Can Cloud Storage Replace Existing FTP Servers?

Cloud storage is often promoted as an FTP alternative, but can it be an effective, easy-to-implement replacement for existing FTP processes?

Cloud storage can seem like a great alternative to an FTP server. It offers a tantalizing list of benefits. No software to install, configure and manage.  Cost savings from pay-as-you-go pricing.  Built-in encryption at-rest. Guaranteed up-time. Automatic data replication.

Trouble creeps in when you consider how you and your trading partners are going to move files to and from the cloud. You may be willing to replace your existing FTP client-side software with a Managed File Transfer tool with direct API access to cloud storage sites, but your trading partners will probably want to use their existing FTP applications to upload and download files.

Diplomat MFT products support direct API connections to Amazon S3, Box, Citrix ShareFile, Dropbox, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud.

We researched 7 cloud storage offerings to see how easily they could fit into existing FTP processes.

  • Not good choices for existing trading partners.

Dropbox has announced that FTP access is not on the current feature roadmapBox supports FTP transfers for Business and Enterprise accounts for bulk migration of data only and does not recommend using FTP as a primary access method.

  • Possible choice, but with some restrictions.

Citrix ShareFile allows access with unsecured FTP and FTPS using implicit-only connections. ShareFile also imposes restrictions like only 8 simultaneous connections, no file renaming and performance limitations based on the number of commands performed per day.

  • Better choices, but with some complications.

Amazon S3, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are better fits.  They offer SFTP access, but only with key authentication.  Each trading partner would need software that supports SSH key authentication – which some FTP clients do not support.  Then, they would need to create an SSH key pair, export the public key and send it to you.  Then, you would attach the SSH key pair to the bucket or container that you would like the customer to use.  With these sites, the set-up is complicated and some of your trading partners may need new software.Oracle Cloud Storage

  • Best choice for least impact on existing trading partners.

Oracle Cloud supports SFTP connectivity with usernames and passwords for authentication. Click here for simple instructions on how to set up secure SFTP user accounts on Oracle Cloud.

If you decide to try cloud storage, Diplomat MFT Enterprise Edition supports direct API connections to Amazon S3, Box, Citrix Sharefile, Dropbox, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud for automated, scheduled file transfers.  Cloud Storage connections are also supported as an add-on to Diplomat MFT Standard Edition. To help you get started, click here for more information on how to set up your cloud storage site for direct API access.

Updated December 19, 2017

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