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Managed File Transfer 

The As to Zs of MFT -  features, history, key terms, marketplace, leading vendors and more...
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Introduction

If you’re reading this page you’ve probably found or been introduced to the term Managed File Transfer, or MFT, and want to find out more. Congratulations – you’re in the right place. It may be that you want to implement MFT in your business for the first time, or you’ve started a new position and inherited MFT from your predecessor. Either way you will learn everything you need to about MFT here.
 
And of course, if you don’t then you can always ask us. To make sure you’re not wasting your time, let’s start by defining MFT. Then you can be sure the following information will be of use.

 

 

Section 1

The history of MFT

    

Although organisations had been securing and automating the exchange of data prior to 2008, it was at this point that the term Managed File Transfer was coined.  Frank Kenney of Gartner Inc used it as a common description for a collection of solution. Gartner went on to monitor this technology under the umbrella term of Managed File Transfer for a couple of years. They used their widely acclaimed Magic Quadrant to rank vendors based upon vision and ability to execute, and the functionality afforded by the products they offered.

The first iteration of the Magic Quadrant included a number of vendors and products that wouldn’t be deemed to fit the definition of MFT today. But as a starting point it highlighted a wide range of organisations providing secure file transfer. An analysis of the vendors listed in Gartner’s 2009 Magic Quadrant, the last compiled, can be found here. Gartner’s initial sweep of the market included vendors which now operate in different technology stacks such as: File Synchronisation & Sharing (EFSS), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Extreme File Transfer, Content Collaboration Platforms and Workload Automation.

 

Section 2

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.

 

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Section 3

Common Features of MFT

    

Managed File Transfer scope, functionality and reach continues to grow. Historically a single server solution to process incoming/outgoing SFTP transfers, systems now support: Increasingly complex workflows, deployment across hybrid environments benefiting from cloud infrastructure, plus a wider set of file transfer protocols (to your right).

Not only is data secured in transit using secure protocols, it is more often than not secured at rest either by encrypting the files/file system or by design of the solution and location of the data.

Reach is extended by the use of agents, which can be installed around the internal network, remote offices or customer sites.

Agents provide the centralised server application with the control to push and pull files on schedules, whilst executing other commands where permissions allow.

The increased reach is supported by dashboards, which provide an overview of past and current file transfers. Some also report on transfers not occurring. This allows organisations to set alerts if mission critical transfers have failed, that would result in a failed service level agreement (SLA).

 

Section 4

Who uses MFT?

    

Almost all businesses have data they need to exchange with business partners, suppliers and customers. You can find industry MFT use cases here, for healthcare, financial services, retail, logistics and utility organisations.

Managed File Transfer is increasingly used to transfer commercially sensitive or customer sensitive data and, as such, needs to be handled with due care and attention. Many industry sectors and indeed countries are subject to specific legislation governing how data should be handled and protected. Some examples include:

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
  • Sarbanes Oxley (SOX)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA)

 

Section 5

Leading MFT solutions

   

I’m sure you’ll appreciate this isn’t an easy question to answer simply because it depends what you’re looking for. 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. 

If you speak directly to the vendors remember one thing – the Salesperson can ONLY sell their product, so inevitably each will tell you their solution is the best! To find the right Managed File Transfer solution for your needs visit our Managed File Transfer comparison for independent expert advice.

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Axway MFT

Control how your organisation sends data. At the forefront of MFT since 2008 French-based Axway provide secure services favoured by the finance industry.

 

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CloudMFT

Move your MFT into the Cloud with Pro2col’s bespoke cloud-hosting service. Ideal for organisations looking to hand day-to-day operation of their MFT to the experts.

 

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Diplomat MFT

Coviant’s MFT tool Diplomat brings enterprise-grade functionality and security at a value that is unchallenged within the MFT market place. An attractive combo of power and price.

 

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FileCloud

Shaking up the Enterprise File Sync and Share market since their founding, FileCloud now boasts 3000 enterprise customers and over 1 million users in 90 countries around the world.

 

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FileCatalyst

FileCatalyst specialises in fast file transfer, allowing users to move large files around the world at high speed. A favourite with media, production and creative industries.

 

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Globalscape EFT

One of the veterans of the MFT market, Globalscape boasts of more than 15,000 customers across 100 countries and remains one of the leading solutions available on the market.

 

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GoAnywhere

Since 2009 GoAnywhere has acquired significant market share in the MFT space over the last 15 years. A focus on innovation and new features makes it stand out from the crowd.

 

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MOVEit MFT

With a reputation as a solution offering a concise set of MFT capabilities that don’t require in-depth skills to implement, MOVEit has been a key player in the MFT market for 20 years.     

  

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Quatrix

Though not the biggest operator in the market, the cloud-native, simple and secure Quatrix punches well above its weight and is designed for hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

 

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Titan MFT Server

Formerly Cornerstone, Titan MFT from South River Tech has a strong focus on cloud-hosting in Microsoft Azure and AWS, the bigger sister to the hugely popular Titan SFTP.

 

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The cloud-native file transfer platform boasting impressive connections with solutions like Boomi and Mulesoft, Thru is building an exciting reputation with enterprise businesses.

 

coming-soon-1Coming Soon

Pro2col continues to onboard new solutions, motivated by a desire to provide our clients with the best solutions options across industries and use-cases.

  

 

 

 

 

    

Axway Secure Transport

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Axway Secure Transport

Cleo Harmony

 

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Cleo Harmony

Coviant Diplomat MFT

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Coviant Diplomat MFT

Globalscape EFT

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Globalscape EFT

GoAnywhere MFT

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GoAnywhere MFT

IBM Sterling

  
  

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IBM Sterling

JSCAPE MFT

 

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JSCAPE MFT

Oracle Fusion Middleware Managed File Transfer

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Oracle Fusion Middleware Managed File Transfer

Progress MOVEit

   

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Progress MOVEit

SRT Titan

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SRT Titan

Seeburger Business Integration Suite MFT

    

SEEBURGER

 

Seeburger Business Integration Suite MFT

Solarwinds SERV-U

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Solarwinds SERV-U

Thru

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Thru

Quatrix

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Quatrix

A Word of Warning!

Whilst researching Managed File Transfer you’ll no doubt find various websites listing what they consider to be the best solution. But beware!! None of these online publishers have any hands-on experience with MFT technologies. They do not have the correct definition for an MFT solution, so are listing incorrect products. Some are getting paid through product placement and affiliate marketing links.

Here is the list of other websites you might like to take a look at – but has questionable expert advice:

It’s the wild west out there, so if you want expert advice get in contact with the team at Pro2col.

 

  • Addictive Tips – non MFT products listed, affiliate link for Solarwinds, out of date info
  • PeerSpot – non MFT products listed
  • Appuals – non MFT product listed and affiliate link for Solarwinds
  • G2Crowd – non MFT products listed and multiple affiliate links
  • Trustradius – non MFT products listed and affiliate link for IBM
  • PC Mag – non MFT products, incorrect information and from 2017

Get a Full View of the MFT Marketplace

What are the top MFT Solutions to consider in 2024?

 

Section 6

Alternatives to MFT

    

We help a lot of businesses to secure and automate file exchanges. Yet as much as we love MFT technologies, it absolutely isn’t right for every company or every use case.

Over the last decade, file transfer solutions have fragmented into different categories. This means there is some overlap. That includes: Enterprise File Synchronisation & Sharing (EFSS), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Content Collaboration Platforms, among others.

In fact, there are a surprising number of other technologies that provide a degree of file transfer automation. Some do it well even though it’s not part of their core offering. Others don’t.

Over the years we’ve reviewed and replaced a wide range of technologies, documenting which features differentiate them from MFT and which overlap. If you’re considering any of these, the extra information in the links provide some clarity during your decision-making process.

 

Section 7

The future of MFT

    

Managed File Transfer scope, functionality and reach continues to grow. Historically a single server solution to process incoming/outgoing SFTP transfers, systems now support: Increasingly complex workflows, deployment across hybrid environments benefiting from cloud infrastructure, plus a wider set of file transfer protocols (to your right).

Not only is data secured in transit using secure protocols, it is more often than not secured at rest either by encrypting the files/file system or by design of the solution and location of the data.

Reach is extended by the use of agents, which can be installed around the internal network, remote offices or customer sites.

Agents provide the centralised server application with the control to push and pull files on schedules, whilst executing other commands where permissions allow.

The increased reach is supported by dashboards, which provide an overview of past and current file transfers. Some also report on transfers not occurring. This allows organisations to set alerts if mission critical transfers have failed, that would result in a failed service level agreement (SLA).

 

Section 8

How much does MFT cost?

    

The price of a potential Managed File Transfer solution depends 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, yet capable automation solution for a business with a limited number of requirements starts at around £3000, plus £600 per year support contract. From there, a solution price might scale based upon a number of metrics. Not all software vendors follow the same model but all currently apply:

  • Single server
  • Multiple servers for high availability
  • Disaster recovery licenses
  • Development, Test, User Acceptance Testing licenses
  • Number of trading partners – a model adopted by some
  • Modules – the features you require can make a big difference
  • Proxy servers and load balancers
  • Reporting modules or dashboards
  • File sharing and collaboration users (where appropriate)
  • Number of processes that can be run concurrently

Most MFT solutions fall into the £10,000 – £50,000 range however we’ve implemented solutions at three times that amount too. Support contracts are typically 20-30% of the licence cost per year, unless you’ve opted for a subscription when support is rolled into the overall annual cost. As you can see there are lots of variables and it’s not always easy to compare solutions on the same terms. Our team are here to help you get exactly the right solution for your needs and budget.

 

Section 9

Is open source an option?

    

Managed File Transfer scope, functionality and reach continues to grow. Historically a single server solution to process incoming/outgoing SFTP transfers, systems now support: Increasingly complex workflows, deployment across hybrid environments benefiting from cloud infrastructure, plus a wider set of file transfer protocols (to your right).

Not only is data secured in transit using secure protocols, it is more often than not secured at rest either by encrypting the files/file system or by design of the solution and location of the data.

Reach is extended by the use of agents, which can be installed around the internal network, remote offices or customer sites.

Agents provide the centralised server application with the control to push and pull files on schedules, whilst executing other commands where permissions allow.

The increased reach is supported by dashboards, which provide an overview of past and current file transfers. Some also report on transfers not occurring. This allows organisations to set alerts if mission critical transfers have failed, that would result in a failed service level agreement (SLA).

 

Where to go next on you MFT journey

Next steps

    

Managed File Transfer scope, functionality and reach continues to grow. Historically a single server solution to process incoming/outgoing SFTP transfers, systems now support: Increasingly complex workflows, deployment across hybrid environments benefiting from cloud infrastructure, plus a wider set of file transfer protocols (to your right).

Not only is data secured in transit using secure protocols, it is more often than not secured at rest either by encrypting the files/file system or by design of the solution and location of the data.

Reach is extended by the use of agents, which can be installed around the internal network, remote offices or customer sites.

Agents provide the centralised server application with the control to push and pull files on schedules, whilst executing other commands where permissions allow.

The increased reach is supported by dashboards, which provide an overview of past and current file transfers. Some also report on transfers not occurring. This allows organisations to set alerts if mission critical transfers have failed, that would result in a failed service level agreement (SLA).

Find the Perfect File Transfer Tool

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The Beginners Guide to Managed File Transfer

Download Pro2col's Definitive Guide for crucial insights about file transfer needs, a review of the marketplace and use case.

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Discover the Best File Transfer Software in 2024

Our experts review the market to reveal the best enterprise-grade file transfer tools available in 2023. 

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Get a Personalised File Transfer Recommendation

Take our short 7 minute quiz to discover the perfect file transfer match for your business requirements. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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.

It is important to carefully consider your business needs before making a decision on whether to pursue an open source MFT solution.

Advantages of open source MFT:

  • Cost: Open source MFT is typically much less expensive than commercial MFT solutions.
  • Flexibility: Open source MFT gives you more control over the software and allows you to customise it to meet your specific needs.
  • Transparency: Open source MFT allows you to see the source code and understand how the software works. This can be important for security and compliance reasons.

Disadvantages of open source MFT:

  • Support: Open source MFT may not have the same level of support as commercial MFT solutions.
  • Features: Open source MFT may not have all of the features of commercial MFT solutions.
  • Maturity: Open source MFT solutions may not be as mature or reliable as commercial MFT solutions.

Whether or not open source MFT is a good option for you depends on your specific needs and requirements. If you are on a tight budget or need a highly customisable MFT solution, then open source MFT may be a good option for you. However, if you need a high level of support or need an MFT solution with all of the latest features, then you may want to consider a commercial MFT solution.

Yes, open-source managed file transfer (MFT) is an option for organisations looking to securely and efficiently transfer files between systems and users. Open-source MFT solutions are software applications or platforms that allow you to automate, streamline, and secure file transfer processes. They are typically developed and maintained by the open-source community, making them cost-effective and customisable to suit your specific needs.

Some popular open-source MFT solutions include:

  • FileZilla: FileZilla is a widely-used open-source FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client that supports secure file transfers through protocols like SFTP and FTPS. It's primarily a client application for transferring files, but it's not a complete MFT solution.
  • vsftpd (Very Secure FTP Daemon): An open-source FTP server for Unix-like systems that focuses on security. It's commonly used to set up a secure FTP server for file transfers.
  • Amanda (The Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver): Amanda is an open-source backup and recovery solution that can be used for transferring files and managing data backup.
  • Mule ESB: Although not a dedicated MFT solution, Mule ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) is an open-source integration platform that can be used to build custom file transfer solutions.
  • Apache Camel: Apache Camel is an integration framework that can be used to create custom file transfer processes. It supports a wide range of protocols and data formats.

While these open-source options can be effective for certain use cases, it's important to note that they may require more technical expertise to set up and maintain compared to commercial MFT solutions. Additionally, commercial MFT solutions often come with additional features, support, and security measures that can be crucial for enterprise-level file transfers.

Also, one major consideration should be the fact that there are also some security risks associated with using open source MFT solutions. Here are some of the security risks of open source MFT solutions:

  • Vulnerabilities in the source code: Open source MFT solutions are typically developed by a community of volunteers, which means that there is no single company responsible for security patching. This can lead to vulnerabilities in the source code that may not be patched promptly.
  • Less rigorous security testing: Open source MFT solutions may not be subject to the same level of rigorous security testing as commercial MFT solutions. This can make them more susceptible to attack.
  • Lack of vendor support: Open source MFT solutions may not have the same level of vendor support as commercial MFT solutions. This can make it difficult to resolve security issues or get help if you are attacked.

 

When considering open-source MFT options, it's essential to assess your organisation's specific requirements, including security, scalability, ease of use, and support, to determine whether an open-source or commercial solution is the best fit for your needs.

What are the features and benefits of Managed File Transfer?

Managed file transfer (MFT) software is a type of software that helps organisations automate, secure, and manage the transfer of files between different systems and users. MFT software offers a variety of features and benefits, including:

Features:

  • Secure file transfer: MFT software encrypts files in transit and at rest to protect sensitive data from unauthorised access.
  • Automated file transfer: MFT software can automate file transfer workflows, such as scheduling file transfers at specific times or transferring files based on certain events.
  • Centralised management: MFT software provides a centralised console for managing all file transfers, making it easy to track and monitor file transfer activity.
  • Audit trails: MFT software generates audit trails that track all file transfer activity, including who transferred what files, when, and where.
  • Compliance support: MFT software can help organisations comply with industry regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR.

Benefits:

  • Improved security: MFT software helps to improve security by encrypting files in transit and at rest and by providing centralised management and audit trails for all file transfers.
  • Reduced costs: MFT software can help to reduce costs by automating file transfer workflows, eliminating the need for manual intervention.
  • Increased efficiency: MFT software can help to increase efficiency by streamlining file transfer processes and reducing human error.
  • Improved compliance: MFT software can help organisations to improve compliance with industry regulations by providing audit trails and other features that help to track and manage file transfer activity.

Overall, MFT software can offer a number of benefits to organisations of all sizes, including improved security, reduced costs, increased efficiency, and improved compliance.

Here are some additional benefits of managed file transfer software:

  • Scalability: MFT software can scale to meet the needs of growing organisations.
  • Flexibility: MFT software can be used to transfer files between a variety of different systems and users, including internal and external stakeholders.
  • Reliability: MFT software is designed to be reliable and secure, ensuring that files are transferred accurately and on time.

If you are looking for a way to improve the security, efficiency, and compliance of your file transfer processes, then managed file transfer software may be a good solution for you.

How much does managed file transfer software 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 £10,000 to £50,000 range however we’ve implemented solutions at three times that amount too. Support contracts are typically 20-30% of the licence cost per year, unless you’ve opted for a subscription when support is rolled into the overall annual cost. 

What is meant by Enterprise Managed File Transfer?

An enterprise managed software solution is a software solution that is designed to meet the needs of large enterprises. These solutions are typically complex and require a high level of support. Enterprise managed software solutions can be used to automate and streamline a variety of business processes, including:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Human capital management (HCM)
  • Supply chain management (SCM)
  • Business intelligence (BI)
  • Security
  • Infrastructure

Enterprise managed software solutions are typically offered on a subscription basis and include a variety of support services, such as implementation, training, and maintenance.

The following types of businesses would typically be searching for enterprise managed software solutions:

  • Large enterprises with complex business processes
  • Businesses that need a high level of support for their software solutions
  • Businesses that need to comply with industry regulations
  • Businesses that are growing rapidly

The following types of solutions are typically sought out by businesses that are looking for enterprise managed software solutions:

  • CRM solutions: CRM solutions help businesses to manage their customer interactions and relationships.
  • ERP solutions: ERP solutions help businesses to manage their core business processes, such as accounting, manufacturing, and sales.
  • HCM solutions: HCM solutions help businesses to manage their workforce, including payroll, benefits, and talent management.
  • SCM solutions: SCM solutions help businesses to manage their supply chain, including inventory, procurement, and transportation.
  • BI solutions: BI solutions help businesses to analyse their data and gain insights into their business performance.
  • Security solutions: Security solutions help businesses to protect their data and systems from cyberattacks.
  • Infrastructure solutions: Infrastructure solutions help businesses to manage their IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, and networking.

When choosing an enterprise managed software solution, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The specific needs of your business
  • Your budget
  • The level of support that you need
  • The reputation of the software vendor

It is also important to compare multiple solutions before making a decision. Please visit our MFT Software Comparison page to find out more on what To Consider When Comparing Enterprise Managed File Transfer.

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