Delivering a Managed File Transfer Project
Managed File Transfer is a niche technology and if you’re new to it then the prospect of selecting and implementing a solution for your business can be a steep learning curve. Fortunately for you, we have all the information you need to ensure you get the right solution to meet your functional requirements and budget.
Since 2003, Pro2col has helped over 750 companies to identify which Managed File Transfer solution is most appropriate for them. Over time we have refined the process, breaking it down into the four key stages outlined below. At each stage, we have provided you with a high-level overview and links to additional resources.
What is Managed File Transfer?
Managed File Transfer solutions enable the secure transfer of data between two or more end-points, connected via a network. Over time, the solutions have evolved to address a wide range of data transfer challenges, the result being that it is usually the gateway for all inbound and outbound secure data transfers.
Common use cases include secure exchanges of data via a wide range of protocols, automation of data workflows, securing ad-hoc transfers, enabling remote access to data securely and much more. Traditionally, Managed File Transfer solutions are delivered as on-premises software installations enabling tight integration with internal systems, however hybrid and cloud solutions are being more readily adopted.
A more detailed description can be found in the blog article below.
What problems does Managed File Transfer address?
Over the years, we have found that there is a wide range of reasons that Managed File Transfer software is implemented. Some projects are driven by Lines of Business looking for solutions that increase their efficiency. IT function drivers generally relate to enhanced security, compliance, delivering solutions that the business need and enhancing productivity. We have listed a few below, which may resonate:
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 aren’t a business bottleneck
- Have better visibility of files transferred, accessed and downloaded
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 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
- 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
- Control the use of consumer grade cloud based services
- Offload/secure large email attachments to ease the pressure on the mail server
- Provide guaranteed delivery by implementing highly available systems
- Provide the visibility required to ensure failed transfers don’t affect critical systems or customers
- Minimise investment in alternative technologies such as Middleware and ESB’s
- Mitigate installing expensive point-to-point leased lines and WANs
This list is not exhaustive. For an alternative view, have a look at an interesting survey by the Aberdeen Group in the blog article below.
Why choose Managed File Transfer rather than other alternatives?
Open Source FTP Servers
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 FTP in the blog article below. We explore the limitations of IIS for FTP in the blog article below.
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.
Blog – 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.
Whilst it is fair to say that not all Managed File Transfer systems offer data transformation possibilities, the development costs associated with Middleware combined with their limitations outside of workflows means that selecting middleware for file transfer purposes is widely considered a poor choice.
The price of middleware eclipses most Managed File Transfer solutions and is a key driver when deciding between the two options. MFT can deliver 80% of middleware functionality for 20% of the price. Our blog article below gives further insight into the differences between the two technologies
Blog – MFT Versus Middleware
Next steps for your project
To help you with your Managed File Transfer project, we have a number of other resources available.
Who do I need on my team?
Selecting and implementing a solution for your business requires input from a variety of internal stakeholders and technical teams. Managed File Transfer will impact upon your network and database teams as well as operational teams for in-life support. Take a look at our blog article below, which provides you with a checklist of internal groups you need to engage.
Once you have your team in place, you need to clarify the scope of your project. What are the requirements of specific user groups? How can these be delivered within the organisation’s IT policies and budget and what integration is required with existing infrastructure? To assist you with this data gathering, we have created a checklist of +200 questions. For further information on this or the other options we provide at this crucial stage of your project, take a look at our Needs Analysis services:
Services – Needs Analysis
Compare Managed File Transfer solutions
The next step is to compare various solutions. This can be a time consuming process, but we can help you shortcut this. Our independently researched Managed File Transfer comparison guide enables you to quickly review eight of the leading Managed File Transfer solutions side-by-side. We can also assist with demonstrations, bespoke comparisons and proof of concept.
Free Guide – Managed File Transfer Comparison Guide
Building a Successful Business Case
When you’ve selected your best-fit Managed File Transfer solution, you will need to build your business case. Every business has their own approvals process and business case requirements. Take a look at our blog article below, which includes advice on areas to include such as:
- Consider all stakeholders
- The need for an executive sponsor
- Presenting Managed File Transfer in business terms
- Build the cost-benefit picture
- Identify the selection criteria and vendor shortlist
Resources Available For You
We also have a selection of whitepapers and research reports to support your argument on topics such as PCI compliance, cost of automation and the need for high availability. Contact the team on 0333 123 1240 and let them know which area is of interest to you.