Integration of B2B file exchange using APIs

04.04.2019 Angelika Siczek
API + B2B letters visible on the blue background with devices
The management of file transfers from a system to the system in collaboration with external partners is a common practice for large enterprises. This is commonly referred to as B2B transmission. A visible trend among corporate executives and company presidents is centralizing the efforts of IT departments on specific platforms. These departments are trying to find a way to consolidate all B2B file transfers into one place. In order to be able to increase control over them.
New technologies such as SaaS, IoT, and AI have created new demands for file exchange systems. They now need to be seamlessly integrated at the cloud and local server levels. This turns out to be a bigger challenge than some IT executives believed. The strategy of global B2B file sharing must, therefore, be tuned to achieve maximum ergonomics in collaboration with business partners.


In the 80s and 90s, companies practiced the integration of file transfer with their partners through a direct connection. They created and maintained special scripts between systems via protocols such as FTP, SFTP, AS2.
MFT (Managed File Transfer) systems were introduced in 2000. They were meant to be a better way to guard files during exchanging files. However, many of today’s MFT systems still rely on the direct exchange and do not have a centralized way of controlling in real time.
The reason why direct integrations are not an ideal solution is that you can not use them repeatedly. They also require a great deal of financial input and time to maintain them. They force the developers to make the same connections again and again when a new partner appears. This makes it difficult to maintain the system because you must always perform the same tasks to manage the same data, certificates, and configurations.
For example, in a large company, processes associated with orders are carried out. It must automatically download files from 50 different partners for processing in the internal system. Developers using direct transfer must create a separate connection with each of these 50 partners from scratch. If you need to reach 3 separate endpoints, developers need to make 150 integrations in just one exchange. This shows why a direct connection can become a big problem.
What causes additional problems is the fact that there is no one way to look after all transactions simultaneously across all channels. Because of this, file exchanges are unsure and there is a risk that, for example, a file transfer error will be missed.


How can large companies simplify the transfer of files with the customer?  API is the best solution to replace the direct method. Creating a range of reusable connections can significantly reduce the amount of work and time you need to directly exchange files. IT teams can use this time for other tasks.
The solution for businesses wanting to introduce innovations involving simpler design, building, and integration of file transfer is MuleSoft and Thru. They joined forces to create Thru MFT Connector for MuleSoft. It is an API-based integration that aims to introduce the possibility of reusing endpoints of file transfers. Thanks to this, you do not have to code them again with each exchange.
Companies using the Thru MFT cloud platform for OptiPaaS can establish an instant connection between their B2B files and the MuleSoft application. Business partners subscribe to file-sharing processes in OptiPaaS, so developers can access them instantly and not need to write new code or require complicated customer-end-point data.
How does it work? Administrators in OptiPaaS create separate file exchange types called transports. They then provide them to subscribers such as partners, customers, or internal departments. OptiPaaS, a self-service, allows all exchange participants to subscribe to these transports and set up their own endpoints. Mule’s developers can add transports from OptiPaaS to the Mule flow by dragging and dropping the Microservice of the Thru MFT Connector. You do not have to write additional code or download client endpoint data. OptiPaaS is concerned with receiving data, sending this data and handling exceptions. All this without limiting the size or type of files.
As companies look for innovative solutions to improve operations and reduce costs, IT organizations need to consider integrating B2B file sharing into all aspects of the business. If you are using a renewable API, such as: connecting the Thru MFT Connector to MuleSoft instead of making direct connections can greatly increase the speed and efficiency of data transfer. And thus contribute to increasing the efficiency of the entire company.

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