What Is SFTP Hosting? How to Find the Best Provider

What Is SFTP Hosting? How to Find the Best Provider

How do you decide if SFTP hosting is right for you? If you don’t have the time or money to build and maintain a server, it may be an option to consider.

What is SFTP hosting? SFTP hosting is using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider to host your files. This SaaS will build, maintain, and provide the server for the client’s business while the business receives the protection of SFTP.

What Is SFTP and Why Is It Important for Enterprise Use?

File transfer is an essential technology for most enterprise businesses. Organizations need to exchange volumes of data rapidly with their business partners to execute shared business processes, yet maintain solid security and compliance. It integrates with processes like batch processing, audit logging, and others on both sides of the connection.

With that in mind, it’s essential to understand the difference between file transfers and other cloud-based storage options. Many consumer users are familiar with cloud storage systems like Dropbox or Google Drive, and enterprise users are usually used to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) tools like SharePoint. These, however, are not necessarily suitable for file transfers because they are geared towards individual or group file management rather than moving files throughout a system. That’s why tools like FTP and SFTP are still the cornerstone of much larger file-transfer or managed file-transfer (MFT) solutions.

One of the original file transfer methods, FTP, made sharing files between two computers relatively easy. Built on a client/server model, FTP facilitated direct connections from a user (the client) accessing resources in a centralized computer (the server). FTP, however, was not built with security in mind. All transmissions are unencrypted, and data is also stored in an unencrypted format.

Many users wanted the ease and speed of FTP but couldn’t excuse the lack of security. To solve this problem, several secure alternatives were created, including Secure (or SSH) FTP. While not FTP per se, SFTP is an encrypted alternative built on the FTP model using secure SSH connections.

This type of security proves essential for enterprise users because it can, with the suitable configurations and integrations, support secure and compliant file transfer across an organization. That means fast and encrypted data transfers can also use capabilities like automated audit logs, reporting for analytics, and batch transfers and processing.

Modernizing Enterprise SFTP

What Is SFTP Hosting?

Much like FTP, SFTP uses a client/server model to connect to a server to download or upload files. Both the server and the transmission are encrypted so that information is unreadable by outside users.

Because SFTP relies on the client/server model, traditional implementations will often centralize servers in on-premise solutions, with users implementing GUI software or built-in capabilities. At the enterprise level, however, simple server setups aren’t ideal. Demanding enterprise workloads, compliance and security demands, and drive for high availability, scalability and flexibility call for different solutions.

Therefore, much like other service models, cloud-based hosting services have started to fill that niche. These “SFTP-as-a-Service” and “SFTP Private Cloud” models allow you to leverage configured SFTP-server infrastructure alongside enterprise tools that support strategic business goals and use cases in your organization.

The most valuable aspect of a cloud-hosted solution is that it, or significant parts of it, will be managed by a third-party provider. These providers can organize their SFTP to function like cloud storage with strong security backing it up. This way, your organization can eliminate the resources and expense to host and manage infrastructure while meeting business, security and compliance requirements.

What to Look for in Hosted SFTP

While those benefits are great, you still have to shop for the right solution for your company. Following that, you must understand what to look for in a solution.

Some things to look for include the following:

  1. Managed Security and Compliance: If you work with a provider that uses SFTP and other features on the cloud, they can offer you secure and compliant solutions that you don’t have to manage on your own. These solutions can include high encryption standards, dedicated firewalls, and even dedicated cloud real estate. Organizations that work in healthcare, for example, could find a HIPAA-compliant hosted solution and streamline adoption and file transfer.
  2. Resilience and Recovery: If disaster strikes, on-premise solutions have historically struggled to respond as quickly, or entirely, as comparable cloud infrastructure. Considering that SFT is just as much about storage and documentation as it is about file transfers, having a managed cloud host can give your data management system much more resilience against challenges or outright emergencies.
  3. Enterprise Features: A hosted system will often integrate useful enterprise features that support SFTP transfers, including transfer scheduling, batch file transfers, data analytics and automation for specific workloads.
  4. Bandwidth: A cloud host will offer more control over bandwidth and support infrastructure than most on-premise solutions managed by internal IT. Higher bandwidth means faster transfers and more efficiency throughout thousands and millions of transfers.

The Accellion Kiteworks® Platform: Scalable, Secure, and Accessible

The Accellion Kiteworks platform is built on the cloud, from the ground up, with usability and security in mind. Our platforms support enterprise customers with large workloads and complex demands for compliant infrastructure that can scale with their needs. Our unique private cloud approach, unlike traditional SaaS, removes the risks of intermingled multi-tenant approaches.

Accellion’s hosted SFTP includes the following:

  1. Compliant Systems: Our SFTP server is compliant, or can support compliance, with major regulations like HIPAA, FedRAMP, PCI, SOC 2, FIPS 140-2, GDPR and others. SFTP security and compliance here mean AES-256 encryption for data at rest, TLS 1.2 encryption for data in transit, hardened appliances, and network, web application (WAF), and content firewalls for centralized security and logging, granular, role-based policy settings and data access controls.
  2. Private Cloud: The Kiteworks platform provides clients with a single tenant, which means you don’t share any part of the cloud application with other clients. Your data and metadata are never intermingled with other customers as they are with traditional multi-tenant clouds. Most importantly, you can own and control the keys on your private instance, and prevent the hosting vendor from accessing them. We do this to give everyone that extra level of security and peace of mind.
  3. Comprehensive Visibility and Audit Logging: With our CISO Dashboards, you get an end-to-end view of your data: where it is, who has accessed it, and how it is being used. Export these comprehensive logs to your SIEM via your syslog or the Splunk Forwarder, where their pre-merged, pre-standardized contents will save your SOC team time and effort. Meanwhile, administrative ad hoc and scheduled reports–and optional HIPAA and GDPR reports–save you time preparing for audits.
  4. Business User Self-service: Unlike arcane SFTP servers that require Linux or Windows Server skills, the Accellion back-end looks like normal cloud file sharing. Admins don’t deal with a barrage of help desk tickets to create directories and give external users permissions. Instead, they designate trusted business managers to create folders, invite the business partners who they need to access the data, and set their access to read-only, download-only, blind-upload-only, or full collaboration — as easily as cloud file sharing!

To learn more about Accellion and hosted SFTP, read our eBook, Modernizing Enterprise SFTP. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter to stay on top of Accellion products, events, and news.

Modernizing Enterprise SFTP
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