Our Predictions for Managed File Transfer in 2024

What does Managed File Transfer (MFT) look like in 2024? We asked our Pro2col experts and industry leaders to get out their crystal balls and share their predictions for MFT this year...  

Our predictions for MFT in 2024
  1. A Decade of Managed File Transfer and the Impending Security Imperative 
  2. Introduction of Artificial Intelligence to File Transfer 
  3. Importance of Managed File Security 
  4. A Big Push Towards more Secure Platforms 
  5. Forward Thinking but Backward Compatible
  6. Ensuring Security is our Paramount Concern 
  7. The future of Managed File Transfer is still Bright 


A Decade of Managed File Transfer and the Impending Security Imperative


By James Lewis, Managing Director at Pro2col
James Lewis is the Managing Director at Pro2col, Independent Managed File Transfer Experts and the owner of the Certified File Transfer Professional (CFTP) training course. James' experience in MFT & B2B solutions has enabled the Pro2col team to work in partnership with leading global brands and enterprise businesses across a range of industries. Follow James on LinkedIn.

"I’ve been analysing the Managed File Transfer marketplace for more than a decade now and some of the predictions of the past still ring true today. A few of the larger vendors in this space continue to fail to keep pace with the more innovative front runners due to the lack of investment in development, resulting in enterprise process redesign condemning them to the ‘legacy software’ bin. Stepping into the void are some of the perceived ‘smaller vendors’ that are making great progress in functional capability, willingness to listen and ability to make changes quickly. I think we’ll see a continued shift from some of the behemoth vendors to the nimbler and more responsive, to address changing integration patterns, upsetting the status quo like never before, regardless of the migration challenges.

This past year has seen massive data breaches globally, targeting some of the most recognised solutions in our industry. The result being that Managed File Transfer solutions are under increasingly, intense scrutiny. However, ensuring your own security is not enough. I’m 100% convinced this will refocus enterprises to pay greater attention to the security of their supply chain, evaluating and monitoring the software and systems will determine supplier choices, or drive positive change.


Introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to File Transfer


By Chris Payne, Director of Strategic Alliances and Technical at Pro2col

Chris has been working in IT Security and MFT for over 15 years. Having been the lead consultant at Infinigate and founder of Advanced Cyber Solutions, Chris has been a specialist in selling, marketing and delivering File Transfer Solutions for much of his career. Follow Chris on LinkedIn.


"Predictive conversations and discussions on the application of AI into all manner of IT related tasks is commonplace at the moment; and our industry is no different. Although the introduction of AI into file transfer, workflow automation and document collaboration hasn’t really started, it is starting to creep into vendor roadmaps and will gather pace in 2024. Being a specialised market, which has a skills shortage, it is primed for the type of disruptive efficiency that AI can introduce.

There are a number of areas which we believe that AI – including machine learning and deep learning – will have an impact on. At a basic level, we expect reporting modules and tools to provide better insight into data gathered from solutions over time. For example, being able to optimise a schedule of automated workflows for better resource usage or network conditions, which could speed up the transfer of data or improve its successful deliverability rate. On a more advanced level – and maybe more of a 2025 prediction - I expect solution vendors to tap into their wider portfolios and partnerships; and start to explore how they can dynamically adapt the movement of data and files based on conditions which are typically external its consideration.

Wouldn’t it be cool if file transfer solutions could prioritise the delivery of data based whether it is an order, the value of the order and how profitable it was - dynamically selecting an optimal route and format for delivery to a third-party, which if haven’t communicated with before, it can negotiate and setup itself? Put your feet up and watch it do all the work!"


Importance of Managed File Transfer Security 

John Glavin, CTO & Co-Founder at South River Technologies

By John Glavin, CTO & Co-Founder at South River Technologies
Mr. Glavin has over 30 years of software and technology experience, and co-founded South River Technologies in 2001. He holds a BS in Computer Science from California State Polytechnic University. Follow John on LinkedIn.


"Security has long been a focus of Managed File Transfer solutions, but recent events continue to spotlight the critical importance of MFT security. Simply “ticking the box” on a marketing sheet will be insufficient for MFT customers in the coming year, and vendors will need to show that best-practice security is central to their core values. Customers will require transparency, rapid resolution of vulnerability reports, and a vendor commitment to continuously adopt the latest security standards.

In 2024, MFT vendors will be prioritising security enhancements and access controls above other new features, as customers will demand this. There will be a focus evaluating source code for potential security weaknesses. Designing and implementing security features will have an eye toward a complete and comprehensive approach that reduces the risk of data breaches."

A Big Push Towards more Secure Platforms

Ben Readings Kiteworks

By Ben Readings, Senior Solutions Architect at Kiteworks

With 18 years of experience in Cyber Security, Ben looks after Global, Strategic and Regional accounts for the UK&I and Netherlands regions, playing a major role in technical engagement, helping customers share all kinds of sensitive missions critical content easily, effectively and securely. Ben is vital in the development and support of their partner community and prides himself on helping protect organisations from cyber threats with his customer-centric mentality. Follow Ben on LinkedIn.

"The MFT market has been a very interesting and dynamic industry over the last few years as business requirements, product features, and use cases have evolved and developed. The space has also been marked by several high-profile security incidents. As a result, I predict a much stronger focus on security, namely a big push towards more secure platforms. Businesses’ data security and privacy needs have evolved considerably as cyber threats continue to increase in frequency and sophistication, in parallel with an increase in rigorous regulatory compliance laws and standards.
These trends will directly influence the choices customers make when investing in an MFT solution. New and interesting features that enhance productivity will continue to play an important role, but I suspect we’ll see a significant focus on additional ways to harden MFT processes. This should include better scanning technologies within file movements, like ATP and CDR, as well as more comprehensive no-code automation capabilities with as little ongoing maintenance as possible."

Forward Thinking but Backward Compatible 

Ian Snead 2024 Predictions-1

By Ian Snead, Chief Growth Officer at Thru
As CGO, Ian Snead works across key areas of the business: marketing, sales, product and finance to drive growth by implementing the long-term vision and optimising business activities. Ian has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience working in an array of technology ventures. Follow Ian on LinkedIn.
"Businesses are seeking to automate data transfer with an API-first mindset while still being able to support legacy systems and legacy batch file transfer processes. Modern architecture designs allow data to flow in real-time using events to trigger processes that lead to business outcomes.
Large organisations will use a combination of modern and legacy file transfer tools. New projects will allow for tactical use of modern tools. Other drivers for adoption of modern MFT tools will be regulatory compliance and where home-grown systems have reached the end of their life (EOL). That said, legacy systems and processes can be deep rooted. For example, SFTP connections between businesses are challenging to change given the level of coordination required. Another example is the continued use of mainframes running core applications based on a monolithic architecture. Integrating these systems still depends on the indomitable FTP protocol."
Security In the Cloud
"Continued and evolving cyberthreats are ever present. Over the past decade, the standards and competence of cloud architects and cyber security teams have risen exponentially. Together, their designs are pushing boundaries to mitigate data breaches and vulnerabilities such as Zero-Day attacks. With this necessity for higher levels of security, I expect to see more innovation in this area."
Distributed Architecture MFTaaS
"Cloud adoption has hit critical mass for mainstream applications such as CRM, ERP, and HR applications which are all delivered in a SaaS model. The MFT vendor community all offer some variation of cloud, however not all provide true cloud-native SaaS options.
The direction of travel on this topic will be to bridge the gap between on-premises and cloud offerings. We will see more private cloud options that provide all the SaaS benefits while maintaining the security and control of an on-prem installation.
We will see more advancements with distributed hybrid architecture whereby the control plane remains in the cloud, but the data flows are confined to private networks."
API-Centric MFTaaS
"As stated, the MFT vendor market is mature but many of these vendors’ applications are monolithic with limited APIs. IT leaders are being driven to modernise and integrate their network of applications programmatically.
We are witnessing a shift from on-premises based enterprise service bus (ESB) legacy systems to cloud-based Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS). This move includes MFT as part of the same initiative to deliver a modern and integrated landscape in the cloud. The chosen MFT tool will need to be cloud-native and API-centric to achieve these goals.
Modernisation is driven by efficiency. This will be achieved via self-service options to remove bottlenecks within IT departments. Programmatic operations will replace the need for repeated and manual configurations done in Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). This paradigm change is called “Headless MFT” and will become the standard."
Metering and Pricing
"The cost of doing business in the cloud requires close attention to reduce spiralling costs. The core components of these costs are computing, storage, and networking/bandwidth. Moving away from legacy systems means a change in the cost model moving from capital to operational expenditure (OpEx). The challenge for any business using the OpEx model is understanding the vendor pricing models and being able to predict them based on forecasted usage. These models are typically have minimum thresholds and term options.
The ultimate goal of the business is to only pay for what they use. In order to gain the best value, a commitment to usage over a period of time is required. For example, AWS will have a “Pay as you Go” option which only charges for what is actually used. However, to get the best value you will be required to commit to a year at the same usage level.
So, I believe there will be more innovation from the vendor landscape in terms of pricing as they strike the balance between, OpEx SaaS model, metered usage, and commitment terms to deliver best value to the market. This, however, can only be achieved if the vendors’ tech stack supports it, i.e., how the service is delivered, its portability and how it scales by leveraging containerisation technology."

Ensuring Security is our Paramount Concern 

Brian Pick Headshot, General Manager of Fortra's Managed File Transfer Business

By Brian Pick, General Manager of Fortra's Managed File Transfer Business
Every day Brian draws on his vast trove of knowledge about how information should be exchanged securely and efficiently to help customers carry out business-critical functions. Brian has more than 25 years of experience in the fast-changing software arena. Follow Brian on LinkedIn.

"Ensuring security is our paramount concern, especially in the current landscape. Fortra stands uniquely positioned, boasting a range of cybersecurity products that we are actively integrating to enhance the protective measures for our customers. Our integration with Fortra’s Clearswift ICAP Gateway application ensures seamless malware scanning for all incoming files. We strongly advise customers to augment their security posture by incorporating a web application firewall (WAF). Using Fortra's WAF provides unified support from a single vendor.

An exciting development on our horizon is the Fortra Threat Brain. This innovative system consolidates data from our diverse cybersecurity products into a centralised database, cataloguing potential risks. These Fortra products, including GoAnywhere, can then retrieve the updated data. Leveraging this database, we’re looking into having GoAnywhere autonomously block access from malicious IPs and pre-emptively preventing the reception of files and emails from these sources. Our commitment to security remains unwavering as we pioneer solutions for a safer digital environment."


The Future of Managed File Transfer is still Bright 

Greg Hoffer

By Greg Hoffer, CEO at Coviant Software 
Greg brings his nearly 30 years of Computer Science and software development experience, combined with his 20 years of experience in the Managed File Transfer space to Coviant Software, helping deliver exceptional products to market. Follow Greg on LinkedIn.

"If there was a silver lining to the dark cloud that seemed to hover over MFT in 2023, it is that many organisations took the time to examine their MFT—and other software product—deployments, their digital supply chains, and their standard operating procedures where data movement and management is involved. That is why we declare that the future of managed file transfer is still bright.

We’ve been having many conversations, sparked by those unfortunate events, with organisations looking for alternatives to their incumbent vendors or to displace their home-grown processes. We’ve talked with customers who are moving to standardise on our secure-by-design Diplomat MFT managed file transfer solution and mandate that their customers adopt our platform or a compatible secure MFT solution before they will allow them to transfer files to or from their own systems.

We also know that the future of managed file transfer is bright because it is a trusted and mature technology, and with continuing emphasis on data privacy and security, MFT only makes sense." Continue reading more about Coviant's 2024 predictions here.