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How do I monitor my Managed File Transfer system?

How do I monitor my Managed File Transfer system?

Most Managed File Transfer (MFT) products contain a dedicated reporting component, available either in the base licence or as an additional module which can be purchased and installed separately.

Many businesses will want to pass this reporting into their monitoring solution, to consolidate all their reporting in one place. But what’s the best way to do this? The majority of MFT solutions generate simple alerts to notify operators or administrators of potential problems. In this article, I’ll explore some of the ways that you can use these interfaces to best suit your needs.

Before you even consider how you want to interface your MFT to your monitoring, you need to take a long look at whether something is, in fact, worth monitoring. For example, would you want to be alerted when someone fails to login to your FTP server? If it’s a wannabe hacker and their IP address gets automatically locked out, then probably not. If it’s a production batch account, then probably yes. Think about your MFT system in component pieces and judge each part on its own merit. Just because you monitor some of it, you don’t have to do it all.

  • 1. The problem with email

    One of the easiest monitoring methods is to generate an email when something goes wrong. Unfortunately though, this is also one of the biggest monitoring failures for a couple of reasons.

    First, relying on email does not preclude a failure or delays in your mail system. Emails can potentially get lost or marked as spam by the mail server if enough are generated. Secondly, if you are only notified of failure, but you don’t receive any emails, is your system working?

  • 2. Simple network management protocol

    SNMP is a protocol designed for monitoring a network and its various devices. There are several monitoring solutions commercially available, however you need to check your MFT system to determine if it is able to create an SNMP trap. If not, you are limited to just monitoring the MFT server(s).

  • 3. Log watcher

    Most monitoring tools contain a log watcher of some description. The monitoring solution can be set to read your log files on a regular basis and will generally remember which parts of the log have already been read. An alert is raised when a certain regular expression is encountered in the log file.

    Be careful when using this approach that you do not inadvertently change the log levels of the MFT solution and that error text does not change with software upgrades.

  • 4. Event log

    Some MFT solutions allow writing to Windows event logs, which you can then monitor with any commercial monitoring solution. On a Linux or Unix system, you would perhaps be checking the /var/log directory (system logs are written to /var/log/messages).

  • 5. Database

    If your MFT solution writes log records to a database, use a query launched from the monitoring solution to routinely extract error events. Depending upon the frequency of execution, this can give near real-time results.

  • 6. And finally… scripting

    If your MFT product provides an API, why not use some scripting to generate events? A Cron or Windows scheduled task can routinely check directly into your system for noteworthy events.

Now that you’ve worked out a way to get the events from your MFT system into your Monitoring solution, you need to consider how you want to be alerted. Of course, this is the responsibility of the monitoring solution, but consider how you would like to grade the events that you receive. Do they all require your immediate attention, or can you apply a priority to some, while others can wait? In practice, it makes sense to prioritise events before passing them to the monitoring solution.

Whichever method you use to pass events to the Monitoring tool, you may find that you also have the opportunity to execute certain activities when you detect an issue. Many monitoring tools possess this functionality (If you script your monitoring interface, this can be used too). A good example of this may be to restart a failed interface, or enable an alternate workflow.

If you need help setting up your monitoring, please contact Pro2col. Our experts deliver professional services on all aspects of your MFT solution.

We’ve been specialising in solutions that securely transfer data, integrate with on-premise, hybrid and cloud systems since 2004. We are partners for the majority of the leading file transfer vendors, delivering accredited support services.

 

Managed File Transfer Buyers Guide

Criteria to consider when choosing the right Managed File Transfer product

Criteria to consider when choosing the right Managed File Transfer product

What should you consider when choosing a Managed File Transfer product? As well as matching technical features against your requirements, it is really important to look at the lifecycle of the product you are evaluating.

As with everything in life there is a natural evolution or life cycle that every product will go through i.e. inception, growth, maturity to decline. Of course the length of time in each phase will vary based on a number of different factors like marketing, on-going product development, customer input and a strategic commitment to R&D.  Under these conditions a product’s growth can continue for a long time. But there are some things that you can help identify a product that is in or near the declining phase of its lifecycle.
 

10 things to look at when evaluating an MFT solution

  1. No product development road map.
  2. Road map is primarily made up of sustaining fixes.
  3. No big enhancements being released in the near term i.e. 6 – 8 months.
  4. No big enhancement(s) released in the last year i.e. reporting, dashboards, etc.
  5. Not up to date with the basic table stakes of MFT functionality. This could also apply to an immature product as well. But if a product has been around for some years and is lacking some basic MFT functionality that should be a big red flag.
  6. Declining Sales. It is easier find out this information for publicly traded companies than private ones.
  7. Little or no marketing promotions for the product(s) you are evaluating.
  8. Still using Old Technology Paradigms, ie: a product doesn’t have the most up to date versions of technology such as encryption algorithms, protocols etc.
  9. Little or no R&D infrastructure.
  10. Based on the competitive dynamics of the MFT industry, if company is not electing to employ one of three strategies: Maintain, Defend, or Innovate your product is in the declining phase of its lifecycle.

Your solution will become a critical component of your organisation’s business workflow, so it’s important to know you are choosing a committed vendor.

We work with some of the industry’s leading vendors. In addition to having a close relationship with them, we understand their position in the marketplace, where their product roadmaps are headed and can help to steer you towards the most appropriate technology for your requirements.  Contact us to see how we can help with your file transfer project.

Managed File Transfer Buyers Guide

Researching Managed File Transfer? Download our independent Buyer’s Guide

Researching Managed File Transfer? Download our independent Buyer’s Guide

​We know it’s difficult to research and select new software, especially one as fundamental as Managed File Transfer. It underpins your security, efficiency, cloud strategy and digital transformation. None of these are areas where you can take risks.

That’s why we created the Managed File Transfer Buyer’s Guide. It helps you mitigate these risks, so you can confidently select the right solution for your business requirements.

Why did we create the Managed File Transfer Buyer’s Guide?

There are three main reasons we wrote this: To save you time, to save you money and because our independence and expertise means we are best placed to advise.

 

  • To save you time and money

    Managed File Transfer is a big investment. Whether you’re buying for the first time or replacing an outdated solution, you don’t want to make an expensive mistake.
    There are over forty vendors on the marketplace, each pushing their product. Of course they will tell you it is right for your business. But perhaps Managed File Transfer isn’t right for you after all? Or maybe there’s a product that will deliver your requirements better and for a cheaper price?
    To research every product thoroughly will take a lot of time and resource. We have distilled the essential information into this guide, so you can understand whether you need MFT, which business problems MFT can address and how, plus advice for the different stages of your project.

  • Other Buyer’s Guides aren’t up to much

    There’s no-one else who can create a truly independent Buyer’s Guide with our level of expertise. They are either written by vendors trying to push their product, or by businesses without our level of experience.
    Pro2col deal solely with MFT and have done for over 15 years. Each of our senior technical consultants has over nine years’ experience. We are thought leaders in the industry, assisting vendors with product research and development, and are providers and developers of the only vendor-independent training programme: The Certified file Transfer Professional (CFTP).
    Our technical expertise is sought the world-over by businesses and vendors alike. Access this expertise for free now.

What does the Managed File Transfer Buyer’s Guide include?

  • Explanation of MFT and whether you have a current or future business need.
  • A series of common business problems MFT solves, including automation, security and visibility.
  • Which MFT features or modules address which requirement?
  • Use cases explaining how different industries use MFT.
  • Advice for the different stages of an MFT project.
  • Access to more downloadable resources to help you through each stage of your product.
Managed File Transfer Buyers Guide

Managed File Transfer software comparison

Managed File Transfer software comparison

Do you need to compare Managed File Transfer solutions? With over forty products on the market, where do you start? We developed this free Managed File Transfer software comparison service to help you.

Globalscape EFT, HelpSystems GoAnywhere, Cornerstone from SRT, Ipswitch MOVEit and Cleo Harmony are all excellent Managed File Transfer products that we recommend to customers. But even from this shortlist, which is the right one for your organisation?

Every business has a unique set of requirements and each solution delivers its feature-set differently. There are so many factors that will determine if your implementation is a success. Sourcing the wrong product will cost you more in the long run.

Pro2col’s free comparison service identifies the right solution for your needs and budget. You complete a series of questions about your current and future business requirements, and receive a bespoke report from our technical consultants, recommending the best solution for you.

 

Globalscape logo
Ipswitch logo
GoAnywhere logo
Aspera logo
South River Technologies logo
Maytech logo
Coviant Software logo
Citrix Sharefile logo
Cleo logo
Thru logo

HOW DOES THE MANAGED FILE TRANSFER SOFTWARE COMPARISON WORK?

STEP 1: Complete a series of questions about your requirements, answering in as much detail as possible.

STEP 2: Our independent technical consultants will review your answers, comparing against the different solutions.

STEP 3: We will make a free recommendation, explaining which product is the best fit for your organisation and why. If we don’t supply the software, we will put you in touch with someone who does.

STEP 4: If you need more detail for your business case or procurement team, opt for our extended paid report service, with detailed analysis of three products, vendor details and pricing.

 


WHY REQUEST A MANAGED FILE TRANSFER SOFTWARE COMPARISON?

SAVE TIME

You will save weeks of research time by completing this questionnaire, making use of our technical consultants’ knowledge and expertise.

EXPERTISE

Pro2col experts have been delivering secure file transfer solutions since 2004 across 30 countries. Each technical consultant has a minimum of seven years’ experience working with this niche technology. We are also providers and developers of the only file transfer certification, CFTP.

INDEPENDENT

Software vendors will want to sell you their product, but our technical experts independently analyse the best solution for your unique requirements. They consistently review the marketplace and only select credible solutions from credible vendors, who provide excellent support and regular software updates.

FULLY SCOPE YOUR REQUIREMENTS

Your internal processes and current / future business requirements will determine which solution is the best fit. That is because different software differs in how it delivers the same set of features – the level of detail makes all the difference. Our free Managed File Transfer comparison service asks you the right questions to recommend an exact fit for your organisation, making sure your implementation is a success.

The questionnaire prompts you to consider the following criteria: Key infrastructure questions you need to think about when comparing MFT software; how your solution will be impacted by other policies within the business; requirements for automated transfers
Transfer protocols, which will depend on the security requirements for the data (eg: personally identifiable data, credit card information);
which cloud services you need to connect to; which standards you need to comply with (eg: GDPR, PCI DSS).

“James and the team provide great insight and service to the MFT industry as a key recognized partner to many of the leading vendors. He assisted us to understand the marketplace and matched it up to our requirements.”

Max Maklin

Enterprise Architect, Nav Canada


“Pro2col have been fantastically patient and have gone above and beyond the call of duty in making sure that we made the right decision and chose a product that was suitable for us.”

Sam Wong

IT Security Specialist, Brit Insurance

MFT utility case study: Water Plus

MFT utility case study: Water Plus

Managed File Transfer (MFT) reduces overheads for utility start-up Water Plus

Managed File Transfer (MFT) reduces overheads for utility start-up Water Plus

This case study describes how Pro2col delivered a smooth launch and cut costs for a utility start-up. It is an MFT utility use case.

Water Plus needed to install a new MFT solution within a very tight deadline, otherwise they wouldn’t get their licence.

The company is a standalone venture, set up by Severn Trent and United Utilities. Deregulation in 2017 meant 400k non-household customers were transferred to the new company overnight. They had no infrastructure, a tight budget and very little time.

The solution was a system that could be set up quickly, provide the exact security and automation requirements they needed, and offer ongoing UK-based support.

Pro2col: On-tap specialists

Water Plus knew they wanted a Managed File Transfer solution, but they needed support selecting the right product and modules, then installing it. They approached Pro2col – the highly trusted UK partner of many MFT providers – who analysed their requirements and suggested an enterprise-level solution with an MFT Gateway for additional security, plus auditing and reporting features. “Using Pro2col kept start-up costs down as installation was fifty to seventy-five per cent faster with Pro2col’s engineers onsite,” said Chris Leach, Application Manager, Water Plus.

Process automation

​Managed File Transfer reduces the need for time-consuming and repetitive manual processing. Companies run more efficiently and keep costs down. It helps Water Plus manage files and data with multiple workflows in place. “We would need an additional team of five to transfer files manually at peak times,” said Chris. “Instead, files can arrive a few minutes before processing without any issues. A member of staff couldn’t do that, especially at scale. MFT doesn’t need lots of people, saving huge staffing costs. It all works in the background. There is less chance of human error and less chance of files or data being sent that shouldn’t.” For example, meter readings are automatically translated into the right format and stored in a certain place on the server. This can then drive multiple processes, such as email acknowledgements, generating bills and printing, right through to processing payment.

“Bringing Pro2col onsite made installation between 50-75% faster.”

 

Chris Leach
Application Manager

 

 

Security concerns

​“Security was a major factor”, says Chris. “If you have files coming in and going out all over the place, there’s a lack of control. That means no security and no audit. The solution Pro2col recommended offered one single system that only needed one external IP in the DMZ for all the files so there’s less chance of getting hacked.” The additional MFT Gateway provides a single point for files to enter or leave the network that is completely secure and under your control. Nothing comes through the Gateway without permission. There are added customer benefits, noted Chris. “I can do all my white listing from one box and customers only need to white list one IP address.”

Auditing and reporting

GDPR makes a data trail essential. You have to know who saw a file and when. Reporting can be set up to automatically deliver this visibility. “I know which files are in the system and who touched them at what time,” Chris explained. “If we have a query, I can go and pull it up. If that was done manually or via email, even using secure portals, there’s no audit and no tracking. That’s a big benefit.” Reporting is also really important to work alongside automated processes to prevent some predictable system problems. Potential issues are flagged, such as a file that is too large. Chris sets the trigger points and actions which can – for example – split the file up into smaller sizes to prevent overnight batch processing errors.

Room to grow

The MFT solution was scalable, which meant Water Plus could build it out as requirements grew. “As we began to understand the business needs better,” says Chris, “we realised we needed a process for ad hoc file transfers. The solution had a module we could easily add-on, which did that. It was quick and easy to set up.” Water Plus added this secure person-to-person transfers module to their solution two years later.

Ongoing support

Ongoing UK-based support is a major benefit for businesses using software from US MFT vendors. “The communication Pro2col provides is clear and concise. When they’ve spotted issues, solutions have come straight away. They’re always on it.” He added, “Pro2col were there in the early days to help us get the software up and running. We got ideas quickly and they found the root cause of any issues. Overall, Chris reports many benefits from their MFT solution, including “reduced overheads and reduced single-team support and development.”
Pro2col are independent experts in secure data transfer working with businesses to identify, implement and manage the right solution for their requirements. We help transform infrastructure, streamline processes, and increase productivity, collaboration and data security. Since 2004 Pro2col have helped over 800 business, spanning 30+ countries and a range of industry sectors.

“The communication Pro2col provides is clear and concise. When they’ve spotted issues, solutions have come straight away.”

Chris Leach
Application Manager

Managed File Transfer Buyers Guide

Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant – Ten years old today!

Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant – Ten years old today!

Somewhat unbelievably it has been ten years since the release of the Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant. When it was released it gave many vendors with whom we now work, a new phrase to represent or categorise their software: Challenger, leader, niche player or visionary.Gartner Managed File Transfer

Since it was written I’ve become a pretty good friend of the author Frank Kenney, and very much respect his opinions on all things file transfer. But if he re-wrote the report today I think it would look very different for a few reasons.

The evolution of a new marketplace, Enterprise File Sync & Share (EFSS), was hot on the heels of Managed File Transfer (MFT). A number of products included in the Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant fall into this category. EFSS technology specialises in secure ad-hoc or person-to-person sharing of data, but not necessarily automated file transfer. This, in my opinion, is fundamental to MFT.

Ten years is a long time for software and the vendor landscape has changed considerably. Looking at the companies represented is a snapshot of a bygone era. Whilst some remain, others have completely disappeared. Some have been swallowed up through acquisition, others have pivoted to focus elsewhere, and a number of products continue in name alone whilst they are slowly managed during decline. Then there’s a small number still fighting their corner.

As I write this, impartially viewing the marketplace, I can see the success or health of the remaining organisations varies wildly. Having also seen many Managed File Transfer vendors acquired by larger software organisations, I expect to see further consolidation in the next 12 months.

So, what’s happened to those represented in the Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant of 2009? Below is our analysis.

Vendors featured on the 2009 Gartner Managed File Transfer Magic Quadrant

Shortly after this report was released IBM acquired Sterling Commerce from AT&T for $1.4B in cash. At the time it was reported that Sterling had 18,000 customers worldwide.

 

Still a cornerstone of the MFT marketplace, Globalscape has undergone significant turnaround over the last two years. Their business strategy was completely realigned after some turmoil in 2018 and the tragic death of its CEO in 2019. A result of the changes, the company has experienced accelerated growth.

Microsoft SharePoint Workspace, previously known as Microsoft Office Groove, is a discontinued desktop application designed for document collaboration in teams with members who are regularly off-line or who do not share the same network security clearance. It is no longer included with Microsoft Office 2013. If still available it would likely fall under the EFSS quadrant.

Websphere MQ (message queue) or now just MQ is a middleware product, with limited MFT functionality. Primarily used only by large enterprises, it continues to be developed but isn’t considered an MFT solution.

Ipswitch was acquired by Progress in 2019 for +$200m. Ipswitch acquired Messageway in 2010 to add integration and EDI to their portfolio which now includes three separate file transfer product lines.

Accellion has never been a managed file transfer solution in it’s purest form, it’s main focus being file sharing and collaboration. More recently some basic SFTP capabilities have been added but it is still better suited to the EFSS quadrant.

Still an active organisation that has extended its capability with the acquisition of Extol. It is also where Frank Kenney, the Gartner author ended up working.

Now known as Hightail. Person-to-person file sync and share, suitable to the EFSS quadrant but not an MFT vendor.

Metastorm was acquired by OpenText in 2011. Not an MFT solution but a Business Process Management tool it doesn’t support the secure exchange of information, it is more geared up to internal approval workflows.

Axway acquired Tumbleweed, the developer of SecureTransport, in 2008 and has since made numerous further additions to their portfolio. Whilst still a significant player in the MFT industry their products are largely disparate. The biggest concern we hear is the extensive professional service costs to implement and upgrade versions.

Earlier this year CyberArk announced that their Sensitive Information Management (SIMS) was to become end of life. Pro2col was consulted on the state of the MFT industry as they wanted to ensure the easiest transition for their customers, who are largely based in Israel.

Proginet CyberFusion Integration Suite: Acquired by Tibco Software in September of 2010 and now called Tibco MFT.

CA have a product called Automic Managed File Transfer. In the past ten years we’ve never found an organisation using an MFT solution from CA.

Biscom’s main business is fax software however they have a secure email and file sync and share solution too. Biscom is another vendor which should sit in the EFSS quadrant not MFT.

Primeur’s initial MFT solution Spazio is in the process of being replaced by their latest version, Ghibli Next. When we last viewed the application it wasn’t complete but if the team deliver against their projections it should be a strong solution. Primeur’s customer base is primarily located in Italy.

OpenText acquired EasyLink Services in May 2012. Their product has been integrated into OpenText’s Bizmanager portfolio.

Inovis were acquired by GXS in 2010 with their Bizmanager product becoming the B2B Gateway of choice for GXS.

nuBridges were acquired by Liaison Technologies in April 2011 and now forms part of Liaison ALLOY® Platform

SSH’s Tectia has never been an MFT solution. As the inventors of the protocol their server and client combination doesn’t provide a large number of features expected of more complete MFT solutions.

Box provides secure content management, workflow, and collaboration. Very much in the EFSS quadrant not an MFT solution.

GXS were acquired by OpenText in November 2013. Bizmanager, formerly an Invovis solution, was adopted as Opentext’s primary B2B gateway.

DataMotion’s primary technology is SecureMail for securing email exchanges with limited automation provided by DataBridge. It doesn’t have enough expected features to fit the profile of an MFT solution.

Stonebranch has a comprehensive workload automation tool and a partnership with Jscape to deliver the ‘file transfer server’ component of their solution, having previously had a strategic relationship with Cleo.

Group Logic was acquired by Acronis in September 2012. MassTransit isn’t very feature rich and looking through the release notes it appears to be in maintenance mode with no new features but minor enhancements and bug fixes in the last few years.

iWay a wholely owned subsidiary of Information Builders continues to promote it’s Trading Partner Manager and wider iWay product portfolio. There doesn’t appear to be any focus on MFT though, however information is hard to find online and it’s a technology we’ve never seen.

No online presence, presumed ceased trading.

Messageway was acquired by Ipswitch in June 2010 providing Ipswitch with a broader integration and EDI capability.

Not one our experts were familiar with Momentum Systems, probably because it’s a quality management and business process management solution. Although like MFT, it has some integration and form capabilities.

bTrade’s website shows them as having a quite functional MFT solution, however the content is quite light and with no blog or news updates in over a year suggests that the organisation might be winding down operations.

ASG Workspaces provides online access to enterprise applications and information, together with collaborative and personal tools. Certainly not focused on MFT now and probably not in alignment with the EFSS quadrant either.

RepliWeb was acquired by Attunity in September 2011. Whilst RepliWeb MFT is listed on the Attunity website there doesn’t appear to have been a product update for a number of years and the datasheet has not been updated since 2015. It can be assumed that this product is in decline.

Leapfile is a secure email and file sharing solution with no MFT capabilities.

Tibco’s website lists their MFT platform however we can assume that the product is no longer under development with their website confirming no support for any Microsoft OS after 2010 and no TLS support, the latest being SSL v3.

SRT continues to develop Cornerstone MFT, providing a modular solution at a significantly more competitive price than other options.

Thru has evolved from being predominantly a secure email and collaboration tool, to a cloud first Managed File Transfer platform. A notable milestone was being the first MFT vendor to integrate with Mulesoft and they’ve continued to focus on solving enterprise integration requirements.

Open Text has acquired GXS, EasyLink, Metastorm and Liaison Technologies – which means they also acquired technology from Inovis and nuBridges.

NEXT STEPS

If you are looking for an MFT solution, it is important to do your research based on the current marketplace.

Most MFT solutions have the same features but differ in the level of detail and complexity, and how they are delivered. The only way you will be able to identify the right one for your business is to fully scope your requirements. Make sure you look at the vendor closely too and see what their previous development release schedule is like from published release notes. These are the factors that will determine whether your implementation is a success and will ensure you back a vendor that should meet your future needs too.

If you need help, use our free comparison tool, which asks the right questions. You enter your requirements, giving as much detail as you can, and our experts will recommend the right solution for your current and future needs and budget. It’s completely free and there’s no obligation to buy through us.

Interested in a file transfer solution?