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MANAGED FILE TRANSFER

WHAT IS MANAGED FILE TRANSFER? (MFT)

In today’s business environment the majority of operations involve the movement of data. This is most often the transfer of files. Examples include processing retrieved orders from e-commerce stores, uploading customer data into a SaaS CRM or transferring documents between colleagues, computers and applications.

Managed File Transfer solutions allow file transfers to take place in a centralised, controlled, secure fashion – inside and outside an organisation – between systems and / or users. Files are transferred more quickly and securely, enhancing productivity and providing visibility.

It is a powerful business enabler that reduces costs and risk. Managed File Transfer is commonly installed to replace legacy or homegrown scripts, improving efficiency and agility through automation, and opening the door to new digital transformation, cloud and big data initiatives.

Traditionally, solutions are on-premise software installations, enabling tight integration with internal systems, however, hybrid configurations are increasingly common as organisations look to leverage the private cloud infrastructure for operational efficiencies. Now cloud-first solutions are growing in maturity, providing full control over data and workflows without the infrastructure management.

WHAT ARE THE FEATURES OF MANAGED FILE TRANSFER?

Most Managed File Transfer solutions have a base licence server delivering a certain amount of core functionality, with more added through modules. Features include automation, encryption and other security features, collaboration, connectivity, auditing/reporting/SLA-monitoring and increasingly data translation and/or transformation.

Managed file transfer

Workflow Automation

Managed file transfer

Encryption & Data Security

Managed file transfer

Connectivity

Managed file transfer

Collaboration

Managed file transfer

Auditing & reporting

Managed file transfer

Data Translation & Transformation

HOW DO BUSINESSES USE MANAGED FILE TRANSFER?

Common use-cases include transferring data using a wide range of secure protocols, automated file-based workflows, secure person-to-person file sharing, secure form-based data capture, geographically distributed data access and much more.
Different industries use Managed File Transfer to address specific requirements.

Managed file transfer

Healthcare

MFT products can secure the data moved between healthcare providers and agencies, both in transit and at rest.

Using the mobile option available on many MFT systems, health care providers can transfer medical notes between tablet devices and central records, enabling home visitors to update patient notes on site whilst working remotely.

MFT also enables the transfer of large files from scans or x-rays, between research partners of hospitals.

 

Financial services

Replacing in-house developed or legacy systems remains the most frequent requirement for our financial services customers. MFT encrypts data in transit and at rest, meaning bank details, credit reports and other sensitive data is transferred securely.

Home-grown solutions are no match for modern MFT solutions, which enable processes to be centralised, provide comprehensive auditing and reporting functions and minimise ongoing support overheads by removing the need for custom scripting. Reducing the proprietary protocols such as Connect:Direct, can significantly reduce costs. You will replace the need for additional customer-facing systems, and communicate with standard protocols such as SFTP.

Secure online forms allow customers applying for mortgages, loans or other services to securely drop off documents. Automated workflows can deliver the onward business processes.

Managed file transfer
Managed file transfer

Financial services

Replacing in-house developed or legacy systems remains the most frequent requirement for our financial services customers. MFT encrypts data in transit and at rest, meaning bank details, credit reports and other sensitive data is transferred securely.

Home-grown solutions are no match for modern MFT solutions, which enable processes to be centralised, provide comprehensive auditing and reporting functions and minimise ongoing support overheads by removing the need for custom scripting. Reducing the proprietary protocols such as Connect:Direct, can significantly reduce costs. You will replace the need for additional customer-facing systems, and communicate with standard protocols such as SFTP.

Secure online forms allow customers applying for mortgages, loans or other services to securely drop off documents. Automated workflows can deliver the onward business processes.

Managed file transfer

Retail

Many MFT solutions have built-in settings to help an organisation configure their systems to be PCI compliant.

Regular reports check the system for compliance and if a setting is changed that would breach PCI guidelines, it will flag it and ask for a reason for the change. By moving data to and from stores and POS systems on an automated schedule, all data can be stored centrally at head office, providing a better picture of how each branch is doing and adding another layer of security to the data. This automation can also be used to trigger orders when stock levels get low.

 

Utilities

MFT solutions can connect to smart meters and retrieve data, allowing companies to process information directly and remove the need to send out a meter reader. This technology contributes to making estimated billing a thing of the past.

By integrating directly into existing data workflows, consolidating automated file transfer tasks and allowing IT staff to create/administer via a user friendly GUI interface, MFT solutions can save utility companies hours of manual processing and ensure the security of personal data mapping against GDPR compliance.

Remote engineers can use mobile apps to send data – such as boiler service updates or technical information about exchange boxes – back to the MFT solution. This can then be forwarded to the relevant system

Managed file transfer
Managed file transfer

Utilities

MFT solutions can connect to smart meters and retrieve data, allowing companies to process information directly and remove the need to send out a meter reader. This technology contributes to making estimated billing a thing of the past.

By integrating directly into existing data workflows, consolidating automated file transfer tasks and allowing IT staff to create/administer via a user friendly GUI interface, MFT solutions can save utility companies hours of manual processing and ensure the security of personal data mapping against GDPR compliance.

Remote engineers can use mobile apps to send data – such as boiler service updates or technical information about exchange boxes – back to the MFT solution. This can then be forwarded to the relevant system

Managed file transfer

Logistics

Logistics companies are using MFT to allow retailers to track items through every stage of a delivery.

By connecting systems with the warehouse and retailer, all parties can see when the delivery has left the warehouse, through to its arrival in the store. This is enabled by transferring files via AS2 and EDI. Logistics companies also use MFT to deliver the same process using MQ messaging.

WHICH IS THE BEST MANAGED FILE TRANSFER SOFTWARE?

Most products offer the same functionality, but vary in how they deliver it. The best product for you is going to depend entirely on your unique business requirements. This level of detail will make all the difference. That’s why it is so important to fully scope your current and future business needs and take all stakeholders into account. You don’t want to make an expensive mistake.

As independent experts, with over 15 years’ experience reviewing Managed File Transfer, we have an excellent overview of the marketplace. Below you can see a selection of some of the best products, based upon feature comparisons, past projects, technical support, product evolution and happy customers:

 

  • Axway Secure Transport
  • Cleo, Harmony
  • Coviant Software, Diplomat MFT
  • Globalscape, EFT Server
  • HelpSystems, GoAnywhere MFT
  • IBM, Sterling Commerce
  • Ipswitch, MOVEit
  • JSCAPE MFT
  • Oracle Fusion Middleware Managed File Transfer
  • Seeburger Business Integration Suite MFT
  • Solarwinds, SERV-U
  • South River Technologies, Cornerstone MFT
Axway Secure Transport
Cleo, Harmony
Coviant Software, Diplomat MFT
Globalscape, EFT Server
HelpSystems, GoAnywhere MFT
IBM, Sterling Commerce
Ipswitch, MOVEit
JSCAPE MFT
Oracle Fusion Middleware Managed File Transfer
Seeburger Business Integration Suite MFT
Solarwinds, SERV-U
South River Technologies, Cornerstone MFT

WHAT ARE MANAGED FILE TRANSFER ALTERNATIVES?

If you are doing your research properly, it is important to consider all alternatives.

Managed file transfer

MFT vs file sharing apps

Employees sometimes resort to file sharing apps if they need to share large files. But consumer-grade applications lack in-built security or an audit trail.

Businesses end up with multiple versions of files sitting in various locations. Plus not all of these solutions will confirm where a file is held, so you may have data stored outside of the EU. Read more in our blog.

 

MFT vs FTP servers

FTP server software has limited functionality and is available online, ranging in price from $50-$1500.

If you have minimal requirements, FTP servers can be a cost-effective option for transferring files. However, they do not provide the same level of security as Managed File Transfer. Nor can they deliver multistep automation requirements. For more information, read our blog article.

 

Managed file transfer
Managed file transfer

MFT vs FTP servers

FTP server software has limited functionality and is available online, ranging in price from $50-$1500.

If you have minimal requirements, FTP servers can be a cost-effective option for transferring files. However, they do not provide the same level of security as Managed File Transfer. Nor can they deliver multistep automation requirements. For more information, read our blog article.

 

Managed file transfer

MFT vs Microsoft IIS FTP

IIS FTP is deployed extensively for tactical solutions. Its lack of functionality and protocol support rule it out as a serious option for organisations that need to meet certain security mandates and regulatory compliance.

We explore the limitations of IIS for FTP in our blog article.

MFT vs middleware

Middleware systems allow the various applications inside and outside the network to talk to each other. They generally have a hub-and-spoke arrangement, with data transformation being performed as messages pass through centralised message queues.

Middleware systems come with connectors to most system types, which allow them to exchange data freely. However, they are rarely for use by end users and don’t tend to handle large messages well compared to dedicated Managed File Transfer systems.

 

Managed file transfer
Managed file transfer

MFT vs middleware

Middleware systems allow the various applications inside and outside the network to talk to each other. They generally have a hub-and-spoke arrangement, with data transformation being performed as messages pass through centralised message queues.

Middleware systems come with connectors to most system types, which allow them to exchange data freely. However, they are rarely for use by end users and don’t tend to handle large messages well compared to dedicated Managed File Transfer systems.

 

MANAGED FILE TRANSFER PRICING: HOW MUCH DOES MANAGED FILE TRANSFER COST?

Managed File Transfer pricing is going to depend entirely on your requirements, business size and the functionality you opt for. But we can give you an idea, based on products we recommend to our customers.

Costs for a simple automation solution for a small to medium size business start around £3250, plus £600 per year support contract.

A base licence for an enterprise-level Managed File Transfer solution ranges from £12,000-£100,000 with additional modules from £1600 upwards. The support contract is typically 20-30% of the licence cost per year.

These prices are estimates and based on the current exchange rate at the time of publishing.

MANAGED FILE TRANSFER PRICING: HOW MUCH DOES MANAGED FILE TRANSFER COST?

Managed File Transfer pricing is going to depend entirely on your requirements, business size and the functionality you opt for. But we can give you an idea, based on products we recommend to our customers.

Costs for a simple automation solution for a small to medium size business start around £3250, plus £600 per year support contract.

A base licence for an enterprise-level Managed File Transfer solution ranges from £12,000-£100,000 with additional modules from £1600 upwards. The support contract is typically 20-30% of the licence cost per year.

These prices are estimates and based on the current exchange rate at the time of publishing.

IS OPEN SOURCE MANAGED FILE TRANSFER AN OPTION?

Whilst the open source marketplace can be a fantastic resource for some business applications, Managed File Transfer isn’t currently one of them. It may be viable if you are a tech business or have an extensive development and technical team. However, for most businesses, Managed File Transfer is mission-critical to mitigate the security and compliance risks associated with supporting a bespoke or homegrown solution. Unmanaged in-house scripts are one of the biggest risks to an organisation’s GDPR compliance. Additionally, as developers and contractors move on, companies get stuck without documentation, no training and no one to make changes or fix faults.

In our experience large organisations who have implemented open source Managed File Transfer usually revert to a commercial product within a few years. The most common reason they cite is that the functionality was behind the curve of the commercially developed solutions.