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Migrating to Cloud SFTP from traditional servers and other solutions

Posted by Jayden Bartram on Jun 13, 2022 11:27:00 AM

Cloud SFTP offers a number of advantages compared to traditional servers. But many organizations that understand these benefits come up against another issue: migrating to Cloud SFTP from a traditional file server. After all, moving from an on-prem server to the cloud can't be easy, can it? It can be with Couchdrop. Making a significant change like moving to cloud SFTP has its challenges, but our guide will show you how to minimize obstacles to help make your transition as straightforward as possible. 


Is it too disruptive to migrate to a Cloud SFTP server? 

Migrating to a new solution can be daunting and can seem like a large undertaking by an organization, especially if it's critical and business dependency means it can’t skip a beat, or someone set it up years ago (and has since left) and everyone is too scared to touch it.

Rest assured, moving to a new platform, especially a modern one, doesn’t have to be difficult or tiresome. Especially with a Cloud SFTP server preparation and communication is key, as with any organizational change. 

First of all, you can ditch the complex config file and manage everything in the intuitive web browser. And since Couchdrop has simple integrations to over 30 cloud platforms, as well as an easy-to-use agent for Windows and Mac OSX servers, you can rest assured that it's simple to make sure your files end up where they need to be.  Below we are going to look at the steps it takes to transfer your workload to Couchdrop – the Cloud SFTP and MFT platform.

Couchdrop Adding Users with no Config file updates required

Worried about getting stuck? Don't be. 

An important item to note is that you will never do this alone with Couchdrop. Even though you may not need it, Couchdrop provides engineering support right from the start to help with planning, configuration, and support to help you achieve your desired outcomes. There is no cost for this and our team is standing by to help if you run into any issues. Simply reach out to support@couchdrop.io or book in a technical call.

How to migrate to Cloud SFTP from traditional servers

This guide will help you prepare to make the migration from traditional servers to Cloud SFTP and includes some best practices to help make sure the process will be a success. Here's a quick summary of what we'll cover in this guide: 

  1. Audit your current platforms usage and what is actually being used
  2. Finding a new solution can meet your current and future requirements
  3. For SFTP, take note of all usernames, credentials (if you have access), root folders, and permissions.
  4. Check that your storage configuration will still meet your needs. If not, consider using a solution such as Movebot. Movebot can run a discovery scan to understand your file structure and you can use it to migrate data and folder structure from your current solution using its SFTP or another cloud storage connection.
  5. For automation and workflows, draw out your file workflows and annotate around expectations and what should happen at each step.
  6. While running your current platform, configure storage and build out your new platform with SFTP users, map their directories
  7. Create your file automation and workflows in the new platform
  8. When ready communicate with your end users and it is often as easy as switching over the hostname that they connect to your new platform's sub-domain (CNAME record).


Step 1 - Audit the current platform

When looking to adopt a new solution it is paramount to truly understand how your current system is configured and its usage. This not only helps with adopting a new solution when coming to configure, but also how many active workflows are actually required?

Do you have 50 SFTP users but 20 are inactive? Has an organization been attempting to send you files but has been unsuccessful for a period of time? This is a prime opportunity to also cut costs where unneeded operations are running but also workflows can possibly be simplified through a more modern approach. 

Screenshots are a good way to collect everything as you go through all pages as when you lose access to your current solution, you still retain a record.

Some items to look at when auditing your current platform are:

  • Amount of active versus inactive SFTP/FTP users
  • User configurations (great time for a security checkup): permissions, directories, actions, behaviour, passwords, keys, etc.
  • Storage: directory structure, file locations, storage utilization, permissions, could it be moved to a cloud storage solution rather than relying on a third party
  • Inboxes and portal configurations
  • IP addresses used both with yourself and your partners for connecting
  • Failing transfers or highly utilized connections
  • File automations and workflows: configuration, whether they are still required, are they optimal or have you got three workflows that could be condensed into one
  • Alerting and other configurations such as locale for compliance

Step 2 - Finding a new solution that meets your requirements

Now that you understand your current use cases and how your organization uses the product, first check do you actually need to move to a new solution? If yes, does the new solution tick all of the boxes? Can it scale to meet future requirements? Is it secure? Is it a more modern solution than you’re currently using or is it getting on and it has been adapted to work with the cloud rather than being cloud native?

Also, look at pricing and the business relationship, how does the solution scale with pricing, are there volume discounts, are you forced into three yearly commitments? Are you being phoned and does the company's culture align with you and your direction? Remember features and products can be easily implemented and iterated with the right solution, but being stuck in a bad relationship can hurt over the long term.

Step 3 - Take note of SFTP settings and user configuration

Now that you’ve decided on a new platform, it’s time to make sure you have all of the right details to get going. The easiest to get is a user configuration that could be used for an organization to share or send files with you. The items that are noteworthy are:

  • Username
  • Email address
  • Password and/or RSA key
  • Directories that the user has access to and the permissions tied to these
  • Access permissions such as does the user have access to SFTP but not FTP, or a web portal but not email upload
  • Firewall IP addresses to whitelist
  • Anything else noteworthy that could be used later on i.e. does this user have notifications configured for when a file is dropped or sent in

Step 4 - Check your storage configuration still meets your needs

Does your current storage configuration meet your needs, or is this a good opportunity for a change? One thing to check is compatibility. Some platforms allow you to mount your cloud storage (SharePoint, S3, Dropbox, Google Cloud or Azure). If this is the case it is worth understanding how this connection works and its configuration, for example where the root directory resides. Otherwise if using a vendor's storage, what does the directory structure look like, where is the storage hosted and how easy is it going to be to get the data out of there?

If migrating a lot of files, you could utilize a solution such as Movebot which can migrate files and the folder structure from file servers and NAS devices to a cloud storage location or even another file server (though we recommend going cloud-based if you can). Otherwise if leveraging cloud storage you can often just connect it at the new platform without the need to change or recreate any objects.

Step 5 - Draw out automations and file workflows that are in use

It is good practice to draw out the workflows that are going to be configured on the new platform, this not only helps when it comes to configuring the workflows and automations on the new platform, but also assists with visualizing the stages and helps to see if there are any redundant steps or steps that can be visualized.


Step 6 - Configure the new platform

This is the point where all of the pre-work comes into play, you should now configure everything in the new platform and have everything in place ready for cutover. Make sure that any users and their credentials are moved over to the new platform, especially for any users who may be unaware of the possible disruption. 

Often you can reach out to the new company for support during this and they may be able to assist with configuration, for example in the backend they may be able to bulk upload users, or help ensure your automations are configured appropriately to get your desired outcome.

Step 7 - Add workflows and automations in the new platform

If you're used to having secure automated file transfers, the last thing you'll want to do is go back to moving those files manually. While your files are being moved (or before making the final transition if you aren't migrating data), setup the new platform with automations so that it's ready to go for users.

This is also a chance to add in any new automations that can further simplify workflows. Couchdrop for instance, has very powerful automations that many other SFTP and MFT platforms don't offer. For instance, you can encrypt or decrypt files with PGP encryption or send a webhook as part of a Couchdrop Automation. With a new platform, there may be many opportunities to make required file transfers easier and less error-prone. 

Step 8 - Cutover and transitioning to the new platform

It’s time to adopt the new solution. Leading up to cutover and the adoption of the new platform, it is strongly recommended that you be transparent with your partners and customers and communicate and send through new information ahead of time.

Occasionally it can take partners up to 10 working days to adopt new changes such as a change of IP address or password. However, if using a hostname and username and key, a lot of this leads to the end partner not having to change anything as it will redirect with time.

A key item that could be forgotten as a whole is the internal processes that may need to change as well. When moving to a new provider or potentially if adopting cloud storage for the first time, you may no longer need to work through your file transfer solution, and rather interact directly with the backend storage. For example, you could interact directly with Google Cloud through the Google ecosystem, or potentially you have someone in accounts who can interact with the data via the SharePoint sync agent on their computer.

Let Couchdrop help you make the move

While this article may seem long-winded and complex, it can really be straightforward if the right preparations are put in place and there is an understanding of the current state versus the end goal. In the end, there are teams within the likes of Couchdrop who are happy to help and available.

And if you want to get an idea of how Couchdrop works before making such a big move, you can try it free for 14 days. You don't need to add a credit card or go through a sales or product demo if you don't want to, but our team is happy to talk with you if you'd like. Ready to get started? Sign up for your free trial today

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