MANAGED FILE TRANSFER (MFT)
WHAT IS MFT? (MANAGED FILE TRANSFER)
What is MFT? Managed File Transfer solutions allow data to be transferred in a controlled, secure fashion, both inside and outside an organisation, between systems and / or users. Files are transferred more quickly and securely, enhancing productivity and providing visibility of transfers.
The solutions address a wide range of data transfer challenges and are used as the gateway for all inbound and outbound secure data transfers. Common use-cases include secure exchanges of data via a wide range of protocols, automated data workflows, secure ad-hoc transfers, enabling remote access to data securely and much more.
Traditionally, Managed File Transfer solutions have been delivered as on-premises software installations, enabling tight integration with internal systems. Now cloud solutions are growing in popularity, providing full control over their data and workflows without the infrastructure management. So what is MFT? It’s a critical component in your infrastructure and the answer to your secure data transfer requirements.
MFT software enhances security, provides visibility, supports compliance (GDPR, ISO) and can increase the efficiency of business processes. There are many different reasons why an IT team or department within a business may want to install an MFT solution.
Business departments are typically looking to:
- Securely share files, as email isn’t sufficient
- Collaborate on project files with geographically distributed teams
- Enable timely file transfer so that IT isn’t a business bottleneck
- Have better visibility of files transferred, accessed and downloaded
- Automate repetitive processes to free up resources
- Transfer files faster – replacing shipping of media such as media USB devices, DVD’s & HDD’s
- Send large data sets, quickly to trading partners across the world
IT often looks to Managed File Transfer to:
- Replace insecure/legacy/open source FTP servers
- Remove the single point of failure of homegrown bespoke file transfer solutions
- Enable business users to send files securely without the involvement of IT
- Integrate with Enterprise systems, e.g. SharePoint or cloud services, e.g. Dropbox, Amazon, Azure
- Automate the movement and integration of data between disparate systems and endpoints
- Achieve compliance with company, industry or regulatory standards such as Data Protection, GDPR, PCI, SOX and HIPAA
- Control the use of consumer-grade cloud-based services
- By replacing in-house developed or legacy systems remains the most frequent requirement for our financial services customers. Home-grown solutions are no match for modern managed file transfer solutions that enable processes to be centralised, provide comprehensive auditing and reporting functions and minimise ongoing support overheads by removing the need for custom scripting for example. By reducing the proprietary protocols such as Connect:Direct can significantly reduce costs, replacing customer-facing systems to communicate with standard protocols such as SFTP.
- Securing data is a regulatory necessity. Using a combination of features, managed file transfer products can secure the data moved between agencies, both in transit and at rest. Data can be moved using a number of different secure methods and by leveraging either automatic encryption using PGP or storing to an encrypted repository with hidden keys, data can be protected at rest. Using the mobile option on many of the managed file transfer systems available, Health Care providers can transfer medical notes between tablet devices and central records, enabling home visitors to update patient notes on site.
- Many managed file transfer solutions have built in compliance 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 the setting 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.
- With managed file transfer solutions being able to connect to smart meters and retrieve data, companies can process information directly removing the need to send round a meter reader. This technology can therefore contribute to making “estimated” billing a thing of the past. By integrating directly into their existing data workflows, consolidating their automated file transfer tasks and allowing IT staff to create/administer them via a user friendly GUI interface, MFT solutions can save utility companies hours of manual processing and ensure security of personal data mapping against GDPR compliance.
For those wanting to build out their own system, a few open source projects exist. However, they require a considerable amount of work to ensure they are fit for purpose. Whilst commercial support might be available, they don’t have the financial backing to allow for a comprehensive list of features, instead enabling IT professionals with development expertise to address tactical problems. Growing these systems is painful and the development costs can be significant.
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 the blog article, ‘Pitfalls of using IIS for FTP’.
The bottom line with FTP servers is that you get what you pay for. FTP server software is available online, ranging in price from $50-$1500. The level of functionality and critically support vary widely. Where requirements are minimal, then they prove to be a cost-effective option for transferring files. Our blog article examines this in more depth looking at the top three drivers for choosing MFT over FTP. Find out more in our blog post, ‘MFT or FTP?’
Middleware systems bring the ability for the various applications both 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 centralized 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 when compared to dedicated Managed File Transfer Systems. Find out more in our blog post, ‘MFT Versus Middleware’.
Our expertise means we are the preferred partner for the majority of the leading file transfer vendors. Organisations can purchase software, receive professional services and be supported by Pro2col on the following solutions we recommend for MFT:
Globalscape EFT Server
Over 20 years’ experience and 13,000 customers worldwide. Based in Texas, USA. Pro2col has been a UK Master Partner for ten years.
Founded over 20 years’ ago (as Linoma). Over 13,000 customers worldwide and Pro2col partners since 2014. Based in Minnesota, USA.
Founded in 2001, SRT are based in Maryland, USA with customers in 125 countries. Pro2col have been partners since 2014.
Oracle Corporation was co-founded in 1977 and is headquartered in Redwood Shores, California, USA. They have customers in 175 countries.
Managed File Transfer News
Which are the most widely used file transfer delivery protocols? Which should you be using and how do you identify which solution uses which protocols? This blog post answers your questions about Managed File Transfer protocols.
Start your Managed File Transfer software comparison. Answer a series of questions about your business requirements. We’ll compare how the different solutions meet your needs and make a free recommendation.