Understand Cloud-Based
Managed File Transfer

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Managed File Transfer Platform as a Service (MFTPaaS) is the term used to describe a cloud-based managed file transfer solution, also referred to as cloud MFT. Like its on-premises counterpart, MFTPaaS allows data to be transferred in a controlled, secure fashion, both inside and outside an organisation. It supports data security, compliance, and business efficiency, with the added benefits of the cloud.
This page takes a brief look at the evolution of MFTPaaS, before considering the benefits and risks. It will help you decide whether it’s the right time to move to a cloud MFT infrastructure, and – if so – how to approach it.


Section 1

The History of MFT Cloud Services


Managed file transfer has traditionally been deployed on site. Pre-COVID, the majority of the organisations we worked with considered cloud MFT offerings, but still opted for an on-premises deployment. They felt cloud solutions didn’t yet have the functionality they required.

That’s changed drastically post-COVID. Now nearly a fifth of our customers are buying an MFT cloud service and there’s an urgency for organisations to move to the cloud. Businesses are ready to accept the limitations in order to support remote working, reduce maintenance and build a more resilient infrastructure.

It’s the same picture across the industry. Leading vendor HelpSystems report one third of their requests are now for SaaS based solutions. And Gartner predicts MFTPaaS is the fastest-growing segment of the MFT marketplace.

It is not, however, a mature marketplace. There are ‘cloud-first’ or ‘cloud-native’ solutions which successfully deliver the infrastructure, but lack the sophisticated automation of on-premises solutions. Then there are the exceptional feature-sets of traditional on premises vendors, but which lack the advanced infrastructure.

So before we go any further, let’s take a look at exactly what MFTPaaS is.


Section 2

What is Cloud Managed File Transfer (MFTPaaS)?


Managed file transfer has existed for several decades. It secures, automates and governs the transfer of data between two or more endpoints, using file transfer protocols. Organisations who deploy MFT benefit from increased efficiency through automation, advanced security features and auditing and reporting to support compliance.

Cloud managed file transfer can be delivered in two different ways. It can be deployed in a public or private cloud (in this model the solution provider takes responsibility for managing the network, servers and storage). Or as an MFT cloud service, or SaaS model (this sees the hosting, application and operating system fully managed by the solution provider – IT teams just focus on the administration of the MFT solution).

The Benefits of Cloud Managed File Transfer

  • No server set up and maintenance costs
  • Easily scalable as requirement change
  • Reduced on-site infrastructure
  • High availability
  • The latest innovation in infrastructure and security
  • Improved connectivity speeds
  • Secure and reliable hosted environment



Section 3

Common Features of an MFT Cloud Service?


In an ideal world, an MFTPaaS solution will deliver the same full feature set as traditional on premises solutions, supporting your automation, security, auditing and reporting requirements.

This includes: A wide set of file transfer protocols to secure data in transit and at rest (find out more in our Managed File Transfer Guide); dashboards, which provide an overview of past and current file transfers, plus alerts for failed transfers; and a workflow engine enabling complex and logic-based workflows.

There are features specific to cloud managed file transfer, which you should look out for.

Cloud managed file transfer deployments are largely driven by:

  • Businesses wanting to hand over server and infrastructure management to focus on other things
  • Enabling remote working, accelerated by the pandemic
  • Resilience, with organisations wanting an active-active set up but finding the cost is too high on-site
  • Eliminating unsafe methods of transferring data with partners, suppliers or even internally
  • Secure data capture and onward data processing
  • Replacing unmanaged scripts with a simple workflow builder, that doesn’t require scripting expertise
  • Enhancing visibility of file transfers to support data security and compliance


Section 4

Who Uses
Cloud-Based MFT?


For most organisations, the number of files being transferred is rapidly increasing, and so is the level of security required. Many businesses are struggling to keep up, and the cost of their on-site infrastructure is escalating. That’s why we’re seeing a range of industries choosing an MFT cloud service, and there’s been a particular surge in local and central government and financial services.

Cloud features to consider:

  • Is hosting via a private or public cloud?
  • Does the public cloud (eg: Azure, AWS) have the option of UK data residency?
  • Is the service providing management of just the hosting infrastructure, or the application as well?
  • Can users access the operating system as well as the application?
  • Certifications, such as SOC 2 compliance, ISO 27001
  • Is the MFT cloud service support delivered by phone, web chat or email?
  • What is the pricing model? Eg: Monthly or yearly subscription charge, with overage fees?
  • Replacing unmanaged scripts with a simple workflow builder, that doesn’t require scripting expertise
  • Enhancing visibility of file transfers to support data security and compliance


Section 5

MFTPaaS Considerations


As previously mentioned, cloud MFT isn’t a mature marketplace. The cloud native solutions seem to be lacking in their features set – notably automation capabilities. Yet the strong vendors of on site MFT solutions are not so well developed in terms of infrastructure.

There are a few other risks to look out for in an MFT cloud service:

  • Hidden costs, such as leaving costs out of estimates, having lower upfront costs but higher support costs over time
  • Inflexible pricing models
  • Consider the time and cost of reskilling if you are not opting for a fully managed service


Section 6

Moving from an On-Site to a Cloud MFT Deployment


We’re sure you’ll want to know how simple is it to move from an on-site MFT solution to an MFT cloud service. If you’re migrating from the on-premises deployment to the cloud managed file transfer version of the same product you’ll start with a common interface, but there will still be a significant level of complexity. Workflow processes will have to be redefined with trading partners due to your new hosting location, onward workflows will all need reconfiguring to deliver to new target end points and authentication options may well change to in a new environment.

If you’re migrating to a completely different product, it may be more complicated due to it being a new interface and the processes will need to be designed from scratch. There are, however, lots of options for professional services and consultancy to support you with your cloud managed file transfer migration.

It’s important to note that you can’t always take exactly what you’re doing on prem and replicate it exactly in the cloud. You may not have all the functionality you’re used to. There are some points to consider.

Differences between cloud MFT and on-premises:

  • ActiveDirectory authentication isn’t available in all applications
  • Integration with other solutions isn’t always available, eg: Antivirus, Data Leak Prevention or Dashboards for advanced reporting and logging
  • Support for FTPS
  • Powershell capabilities
  • How event rules are built
  • Recovery time objectives – you don’t necessarily have control over this
  • Do you have access to certificate management and native commands
  • Some of the branding may be limited

Experts at Pro2col can advise you on these factors, so please contact us for a free, no obligation advisory call.


Section 7

What Are the Leading Cloud MFT Solutions?


While many Cloud Managed File Transfer (MFTPaaS) solutions offer similar functionalities, their delivery methods can differ significantly. The optimal choice for your organisation hinges entirely on your specific business needs. A thorough understanding of your current and anticipated requirements, along with stakeholder input, is important. A costly mistake can be avoided through correct planning.

Remember, during vendor discussions, salespeople naturally champion their own products. To make an informed decision regarding your MFTPaaS needs, chat to our independent Cloud MFT Experts, or try our File Transfer Comparison Tool to get an expert recommendation to fit your use case.

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Section 8

How Much Does Cloud MFT Cost?


There has always been cost disparity within MFT. For example, customers can completely re-platform to a HelpSystem solution for the cost of just one year’s support with IBM Sterling.

The price of your cloud MFT solution will very much depend on your requirements. For example, you can get a simple cloud-based FTP server solution from £150 per user. A simple cloud MFT solution with a basic feature set and limited usage could cost £4,500 per year. If, however, you need more bandwidth and are supporting complex workflows, and advanced security with complete dashboard visibility, this could cost upwards of £30,000 per year.

Pro2col MFT experts can provide a guideline on cost, once we have scoped your requirements. Just contact us for a free, no obligation advisory call.


Where to go next on your MFT journey

Next Steps


The set-up we’re currently seeing working most effectively for our customer is a hybrid MFT platform. Data for cloud applications or processes enter via the cloud-hosted MFT solution and are handled there, and data for on site applications/processes continue to be handled there. This approach minimises the need to move data to and from the cloud unnecessarily, minimising data throughput charges incurred. Then only data that needs to move between the two systems needs to be delivered. Additionally, your organisation might want to opt for remote agents to better manage the movement of data inside or between hybrid environments.

We’ve also seen some interest by customers to use the same MFT vendor / product for the cloud as their existing on-site MFT environment because this really simplifies the administration and support.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is Cloud Managed File Transfer (or MFTPaaS)?

Cloud Managed File Transfer (MFTPaaS) is a cloud-based service that facilitates secure and centralised data exchange between applications, partners, and internal teams. It eliminates the need for on-premises servers and intricate installations by offering a managed service model. MFTPaaS solutions typically prioritise data security through encryption protocols, user authentication, and granular access controls.

Compared to traditional file transfer methods, MFTPaaS offers several advantages. It streamlines file transfer operations by automating repetitive tasks and providing a central management platform. Additionally, MFTPaaS can enhance data security by ensuring files are protected throughout the transfer process. Furthermore, by eliminating the need for dedicated hardware and software licences, MFTPaaS can reduce IT costs.

The managed service aspect also frees up IT resources to focus on other core business activities. Finally, many MFTPaaS solutions are designed to comply with industry regulations, reducing the risk of audits and penalties.

What are the Benefits of Cloud Managed File Transfer?

MFTPaaS solutions prioritise data security by utilising encryption protocols, user authentication mechanisms, and granular access controls. This ensures data confidentiality throughout the transfer process, both in transit and at rest. Furthermore, MFTPaaS offers several advantages over traditional methods:

Simplified Operations - MFTPaaS automates repetitive file transfer tasks through pre-defined workflows, minimising manual intervention and associated errors. Additionally, a centralised platform provides a single point of management for all file transfers, enhancing visibility and control.

Enhanced Security - Encryption protocols safeguard data confidentiality during transfers. User authentication verifies identities and restricts access to authorised personnel only. Granular access controls further minimise the risk of unauthorised access or modification of transferred files.

Cost Reduction - By eliminating the need for dedicated hardware and software licences, MFTPaaS can reduce IT expenditure. Additionally, the managed service aspect frees up valuable IT resources, allowing them to focus on core business activities.

Compliance Assurance - Many MFTPaaS solutions are designed to comply with industry regulations. This ensures data transfers adhere to strict compliance requirements, reducing the risk of audits and penalties.

Overall, MFTPaaS offers a secure, efficient, and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes to manage their file transfer needs within the cloud environment. The cloud-based nature of MFTPaaS eliminates the need for on-premises infrastructure, improves accessibility, and simplifies management, making it a compelling solution for businesses seeking to optimise their data exchange processes.

What Is the Difference Between Cloud-Based MFT and an SFTP Server?

While both offer secure file transfer, a cloud-based Managed File Transfer solution is far more comprehensive, with more features better suited for business use cases. SFTP is a protocol for secure file transfer, similar to FTP but with encryption. MFT, on the other hand, is a platform that manages file transfers, offering features like:

Automation - Schedule transfers, automate workflows, and eliminate manual processes.
Security - MFT offers additional security measures beyond SFTP's encryption, such as data-at-rest encryption, multi-factor authentication, and detailed audit logs.
Compliance - MFT helps meet compliance regulations with features like detailed reporting for audits.
Scalability - MFT solutions can handle larger volumes of data and more complex transfer needs.
Versatility - MFT supports various protocols like SFTP, FTPS, and HTTPS, while SFTP is limited to its own protocol.

A cloud-based MFT solution is ideal for businesses requiring:

  • High security for sensitive data transfers.
  • Automated workflows for streamlining file exchange processes.
  • Compliance with data privacy regulations.
  • Scalability to handle large data volumes and complex transfers.
  • Integration with existing IT systems.

On the other hand, an SFTP server might be suitable for:

  • Low-volume file transfers between a small number of users.
  • Simple file exchange with basic security needs.
  • Cost-conscious environments where a free or low-cost option is preferred.
What are Some Business Use Cases for Cloud MFT?

Cloud Managed File Transfer (Cloud MFT or MFTPaaS) offers a versatile solution for secure and efficient data exchange across various business functions. Here are some prominent use cases tailored to specific industry verticals:


Securely exchange patient data (electronic health records, lab results, scans) between hospitals, clinics, and labs in the cloud, ensuring HIPAA compliance. Automate appointment confirmations, prescriptions, and referrals in the cloud for streamlined communication and reduced errors.


Safeguard financial data transfers (account statements, loan applications, tax documents) within the secure cloud environment. MFTPaaS solutions comply with regulations like PCI DSS, ensuring secure financial transactions and reducing audit risks (all in the cloud).


Automate production data exchange (machine sensor readings, quality control reports) between factories and HQ in the cloud, enabling real-time monitoring and improved efficiency. Securely exchange critical documents (purchase orders, invoices, shipping manifests) with suppliers and distributors in the cloud, streamlining cloud-based supply chain collaboration.


Automate data transfers between stores and warehouses (stock levels, sales data) in the cloud, optimizing inventory management and forecasting. Securely exchange marketing materials and promotions with vendors and franchisees within the secure confines of the cloud.


Securely exchange sensitive legal documents (contracts, case files) with clients and external parties in the cloud. Manage large volumes of due diligence documents during mergers and acquisitions securely in the cloud.

By implementing cloud MFT, businesses across various industries can achieve secure, efficient, and streamlined data exchange, ultimately enhancing collaboration, improving operational efficiency, and reducing costs.


What is the CloudMFT Solution by Pro2col?
CloudMFT is the smarter way to move managed file transfer solutions to the cloud. It is a hosting platform, built by experts, tailored and perfected to the specific needs of organisations, with their current vendor in mind. It is also available for those new to managed file transfer, and who want to benefit from a cloud-hosted solution.
It provides a trusted, reliable and effective answer to moving new and existing managed file transfer solutions from on-premise to the cloud, saving organisations time and money.
To find out more about the features, benefits and deployment options for CloudMFT, visit the website here.
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