Automating FTP Encrypted Files Becomes a Transatlantic Effort

by Donna Horton, in File Transfer Automation, posted 3/30/12
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The Challenge

A global corporation enlisted the help of multiple companies — including a finance investment management firm, a global energy partner, and IT services and professional services corporations — to join efforts and find a solution for securely transmitting FTP files  from offices on the East Coast of the United States to Dublin, Ireland. In order for the global energy partner to keep certain information (like employee 401k figures) confidential, the files required Open PGP key ring encryption security.  They also contained a specific naming convention inclusive of the type and company holding association.   Based on three naming conventions, the files needed to be: 1) encrypted 2) the current date and time to be added during the encryption and 3) the files to be uploaded to an FTP site in Dublin.  After the upload, a notification email then needs to be sent containing the names of all of the uploaded files for further processing.   

The Solution

Each company had its own part to play in the solution process.  The finance investment management team, having already used AutoMate for FTP file transmissions for other customer integrations, recommended a Network Automation application to automate the entire process.  The global energy partners were financially responsible for the automation expense of purchasing the application and the implementation.  The IT services company’s systems administrators were tasked with ensuring project completion.  Interestingly, the systems administrators were new to AutoMate and approached the project with a lot of skepticism, the type of uncertainty most administrators have when working with new software. 

But after selecting AutoMate 9 as the best method to accomplish their goals, they used the Encryption, FTP File Upload, Loop Files, Get File Information, If Text Contains (Flow Control) and Send Email actions to write a task generating the desired results.  And at the completion of the task building and testing phase, the once skeptical IT services' systems administrators quickly became AutoMate supporters and advocates. 

The Task

The task built contained the following sections:

Section 1

The first four steps comprised of variable formatting.  Variable #1’s assignment is the current date and timestamp, followed by the “Format Date and Time” action for a specific timestamp formation.  Another variable is assigned to a filename and the last variable, #3, will be used for the filenames upload assignments. 

Section 2

In the next series of steps, the actual automation transpires. The secure “FTP,” with a password login, is initiated with the FTP site name and parameters.   A loop through the designated folder containing some of the files to upload with the “Loop Files” action starts, and populates the filenames in the folder — this step also creates a dataset.  To gather additional file information, the file name from the directory is set to a variable within the loop with the “Set Variable” action.  The file name variable is used for each file name in conjunction with the “Get File Information” action.  Every file in the designated folder is “encrypted” using the Open PGP 6.5 encryption type, Symmetric CAST5 algorithm, public and secret key ring files.  AutoMate also compresses the file in a zip algorithm.  The current date and time is added to the file, and the file is moved to an encrypted folder.  Only the encrypted file containing the specific holding identifiers in the name are uploaded to the FTP site utilizing the “If Text Contains” actions.  The last two steps log off the FTP site, and send an email with the file-upload list to the designated individuals. The task ends based on the customers’ requirements. 

Some additional information to note: When working with this type of automation, the encrypted files can only be decrypted using the same Open PGP key rings and zip algorithm settings used in the encryption process. 

Stay tuned for next month’s blog post where I will be going over a systematic task walkthrough outlining the actions used to accomplish the requirements for creating the FTP and Cryptography task.