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What is Managed File Transfer?

What is Managed File Transfer?

 

So, what is Managed File Transfer and why is it important?

In the digital economy, more than a third of all business-critical processes involve file transfers. Managed File Transfer is a solution to enable the secure transfer of data between two or more locations, connected via a network. It is typically delivered as on-site software but can also be also offered as a cloud-service.

Managed File Transfer offers a comprehensive set of features aimed at replacing: insecure, legacy FTP servers, home-grown, bespoke file transfer solutions, physical shipment of media (e.g. USB devices, DVD’s & HDD’s), consumer grade cloud based services, large email attachments or the installation of expensive point to point leased lines and VANs.

Managed File Transfer can be a powerful business enabler that reduces costs and risk, improves efficiency and agility, and opens the door to new mobile, cloud and big data initiatives.

Managed File Transfer

A recent study by Aberdeen Group* showed that 65% of businesses that implemented Managed File Transfer, did so to improve productivity. Managed File Transfer solutions typically have a range of features, which enhance productivity whilst also improving security. For example they:

  • Centralise support for multiple file transfer protocols including FTP/S, OFTP, SFTP, SCP, AS2, and HTTP/S.
  • Encrypt files throughout the file transfer process (in transfer, at rest even through automation), is managed centrally via a simple to use software interface.
  • Automate file transfer processes with trading partners, from payroll to planning.
  • Detect and handle failed file transfers including notification and initiating remedial action.
  • Authenticate users against existing user repositories such as LDAP and Active Directory
  • Integrate to existing applications using documented APIs (application programming interfaces) to reduce the costs and risks of manual intervention
  • Generate detailed reports on user and file transfer activity to highlight any areas requiring further improvement, or training.
  • Monitoring and dashboards provides a real time view of your business critical workflows.

Gartner* highlights that the two key differences between standard FTP servers and those features provided by Managed File Transfer are the ability to “manage” and the ability to “monitor”. Gartner defines these as:

  • Manage – means to manage all file transfers using one interface (one place) across all business units, operations, systems, applications, partners, etc.
  • Monitor – means to monitor all file transfers in one centralised location which in turn means better governance, compliance and reduced IT costs.

Managed File Transfer projects can range in size, scale and scope, addressing tactical problems to delivering a strategic solution to manage all of a company’s data transfer requirements.

If you think your organisation could benefit from a Managed File Transfer solution, we have a range of resources to help get your project started. Why not download our Managed File Transfer comparison guide or look at our needs assessment options.

 

References*
From Chaos to Control, Aberdeen Group study, November 2013
Managed File Transfer Offers Solutions for Governance Needs, Gartner 2010

 

Resources Available For You

The Expert Guide to Managed File Transfer

Includes definitions, requirements assessment, product comparison, building your business case and much more.

Managed File Transfer Needs Analysis

200 essential questions to consider before implementing your chosen Managed File Transfer solution.

Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide

A full feature comparison of Managed File Transfer solutions from the eight leading vendors in the industry.

Open Source Managed File Transfer Software: Is it Really an Option?

Open Source Managed File Transfer Software

Is it Really an Option? [Updated – 2017]

I originally wrote this post back in July 2012, after a number of requests for open source Managed File Transfer from potential customers. They’d found us via our web site, which clearly promoted a wide variety of commercial products, with no reference to open source, however they were only interested in an open source options.

Free clearly doesn’t pay the bills, however being a bit of an industry geek, I decided to do the research and find out what was available. I identified a couple of SourceForge projects, which I’ve been following over the past 4-5 years.

For the record, I’m a fan of open source. Our previous Technical Director was a thrifty Northerner, who converted me. We ran various elements of the business very successfully on open source projects. Our support ticketing system was based on OTRS and our monitoring system used Nagios. Both were mature applications, widely used in the open source community and provided considerable functionality at a price that suited!

 

open_source

When it comes to open source Managed File Transfer though, the landscape is patchy at best. Open source FTP servers exist in abundance and can provide the landing point for incoming and outgoing files, but open source Managed File Transfer projects appear to be scarce. I suspect that this is because Managed File Transfer hasn’t been one of those technologies that every company deploys.

Open source Managed File Transfer trends

My research over the past 4-5 years has highlighted a few trends that don’t bode well for open source Managed File Transfer projects, and may be a reflection of the wider open source landscape. In general, they have slotted into the following categories:

  • The company is acquired and the free option is removed. Some or all of the functionality is incorporated into a commercial offering.
  • The part-time developer gets a contract or new job and the project gets shelved.
  • The project is labeled as Managed File Transfer, but doesn’t contain the key functions of all commercial offerings in the market.
  • Commercial vendors offer a pseudo open source product with limited functionality and encourage migration to their commercial solution.

Some open source MFT that is no more

These are some of the open source projects that I have been following:

Policy Patrol by OPSWAT – has now become Metadefender Email Security. The Managed File Transfer element of the open source project appears to have been shut down.

ShieldShare by BlockMaster – now appears to be part of the DataLocker stable but their focus is on encrypted storage. It’s unclear whether the product was acquired for the encryption capabilities. Project shut down.

Appterra – their open source supply chain integration platform with Managed File Transfer capabilities was acquired by Descartes. The open source project has been shut down.

DivConq MFT – a SourceForge project that looked promising but the developers seem to have ended the project and the associated web site has closed down.

Karonte – positioned as an open source Managed File Transfer solution but it doesn’t have the basic functionality we consider critical for MFT.

Genuine open source projects

There are just two genuine projects that I’ve found so far. I couldn’t recommend either, as I’ve not invested any time personally or asked our technical consultants to review them, however they have ongoing development and support packages.

Yade – an open source project, previously going under the name of SOSFTP. This project has been around since at least 2012. SOS Berlin lists a number of customers on their web site and provides support and consulting packages. Currently my favourite option, based upon the length of time they’ve been around.

WAARP – a relative newcomer to the market but it looks to have all the basics covered. It also provides commercial support options and their web site provides visibility of who is involved in the project. This is certainly one to watch.

If you’re a user of either Yade or WAARP, I’d be interested in hearing from you. I’m keen to understand how complete the project is, how responsive the development team are and what your experience of their support offering has been like.

In conclusion

Whilst the open source marketplace can be a fantastic resource for some business applications, Managed File Transfer isn’t currently one of them. If your business is in the tech space or you’ve an extensive development and technical team then open source Managed File Transfer may be a viable option for you.

However, Managed File Transfer is mission critical for almost all of our customers and many come to us looking to mitigate the risks associated with supporting a bespoke or homegrown solution. As developers and contractors move on, many companies we speak to are stuck with a solution that has minimal documentation and the knowledge required to make changes or fix faults has been lost.

If you’d like to discuss your Managed File Transfer requirements, I’d be pleased to talk them through with you. You may be surprised at how much bang you get for your buck these days in commercially available products.

Resources Available For You

The Expert Guide to Managed File Transfer

Includes definitions, requirements assessment, product comparison, building your business case and much more.

Managed File Transfer Needs Analysis

200 essential questions to consider before implementing your chosen Managed File Transfer solution.

Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide

A full feature comparison of Managed File Transfer solutions from the eight leading vendors in the industry.