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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 Whether you’re buying for the first time or replacing an outdated solution, you don’t want to make an expensive mistake.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.

MFT utility case study: Water Plus

MFT utility case study: 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.

“Bringing Pro2col onsite made installation between 50-75% faster.”
Chris Leach
Application Manager

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.

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.”

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

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.

Pro2col team raise over £6000 in 100km challenge

Pro2col team raise over £6000 in 100km challenge

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“We’re over the moon.” The words of Pro2col MD James Lewis on Sunday afternoon at the finish line of the Jurassic Coast 100km Ultra Challenge.

The celebration comes after three months of committed training and fundraising, during which Pro2col raised over £6000 to be shared between five great causes: The British Heart Foundation, a local MacmiIlan Cancer Unit, Crohns and Colitis UK, the Lewy Body Society and BIBS at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

“Saturday was just brutal,” James continued. “The high winds and huge hills were not a great combination. We climbed 2.66km, which is equivalent to climbing Britain’s tallest mountain Ben Nevis twice in a weekend.”

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Pictured: The challenging terrain of Flower’s Barrow near East Lulworth.

Starting in Poole on Saturday morning, they passed the picturesque Corfe Castle, traversed the steep terrain around Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, arriving in Weymouth on Saturday evening. On Sunday they moved further along the Jurassic coast to Chessil Beach and the famous sandstone cliffs of West Bay, arriving in Bridport on Sunday afternoon.

Four of the team completed the 100km course, and Ben Smith received the 50km medal, having been withdrawn by the medical team at 66 km with ligament damage and suspected stress fracture from an ankle injury sustained at 21 km.

“We only set out to complete it,” added James, “but we’re delighted to have three of the team inside the top 10% of quickest finishers. Plus we have raised more than £6k along the way. These are causes very close to our hearts and I’m really proud of the team and their dedication.”

The team are still taking donations and it’s not too late to contribute at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jurassic-pro2col

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Pictured L-R: Ailsa Gibbs, James Reynolds, Helen Gilbert, Ben Smith and James Lewis.

Pro2col are independent experts in secure data transfer, working with businesses to identify, implement and manage the right solution for their requirements. Since 2004 we have helped over 800 businesses, spanning 30+ countries and a range of industry sectors. Pro2col help transform an organisation’s infrastructure, streamlining processes, increasing productivity, collaboration, and data security.

Secure file sharing: Don’t risk a breach from sharing personal data

Secure file sharing: Don’t risk a breach from sharing personal data

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When businesses think about cyber security, their thoughts usually jump to phishing scams, malware or other deliberate theft or sabotage. Yet every day businesses are breaching their own security policies and risking compliance. The cause is employees sharing personal data via email or consumer-grade file sharing apps. These aren’t the right tools for the job, so it’s essential to equip staff with secure file sharing technology and knowledge to protect your organisation’s data.

 

Email

Email is one of the biggest problems. Businesses rely on it so much to communicate back and forth, that employees often send things without thinking. Attaching a customer file or patient record is an easy mistake to make. But, in a typical email setup, the servers don’t encrypt the email attachment, so it is not secure. That may constitute a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the risk of a fine and damage to your reputation.

Email doesn’t provide any guarantee of delivery either, or visibility of the transfer, which is another must for compliance.

 

File sharing apps

If a member of staff needs to send a large file and it’s too big to attach to an email, they often jump onto a file sharing application like WeTransfer or Dropbox. But consumer-grade applications lack in-built security. Again, there’s no audit trail of the transfer and you end up with multiple versions of files sitting in various locations, which no one else can access to wipe if that member of staff leaves. Not all of these solutions will confirm where a file is held either so you may have data stored outside of the EU.

 

Secure file sharing

Anything including sensitive, personal or valuable data – like company IP – needs to be handled very carefully. Our advice is to add a secure file sharing solution to your IT infrastructure, to encrypt and securely transfer files. These are sometimes called secure email, ad hoc, or Electronic File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions.

Most will provide a plug-in to your email client, which makes it easy to use and accessible. Some can be configured to automatically secure emails under certain conditions based on your IT security policy, so employees don’t even need to know it’s there. There are no file size limits either, and IT maintain a full audit trail. These solutions often support file collaboration between your employees and external partners too, which is an added bonus.

Full features of a secure file sharing solution include:

  • Access control / permissions
  • Secure data wiping
  • Secure protocols (HTTPS and sometimes SFTP & FTPS)
  • User authentication
  • Auditing and reporting
  • Encryption of files (PGP or AES)
  • Administrator overview
  • Data residency within the EU

Recommendations

If you think you need a secure file sharing solution, our free bespoke software comparison service will save you weeks of research time and identify the right solution for you. It is informed by over 15 years’ experience delivering secure file transfer solutions, a deep understanding of user needs and continuous review of the multiple vendors on the market.

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 your needs and budget. You can either complete the ad-hoc or Managed File Transfer (MFT) service, depending on what you need the solution to deliver.

 

Use this service if you are looking to address person-to-person file sharing only, as outlined in this blog.

 

Use this service if you also need to automate transfers and integrate between applications.

Three big things wrong with the Software Reviews Info-Tech MFT Data Quadrant

Three big things wrong with the Software Reviews Info-Tech MFT Data Quadrant

There’s been a lot of talk in the Managed File Transfer (MFT) space about the recent Software Reviews Info-Tech MFT Data Quadrant. The report claims to ‘provide a comprehensive evaluation of popular products in the Managed File Transfer market’.

As independent MFT experts with over 15 years’ experience reviewing products, we wanted to provide our take on this report. Our advice is very clear. This is not an accurate representation of the market, and here’s why.

 

Pictured: Info-Tech MFT Data Quadrant, from HelpSystems website.
 

1. Definition of MFT

Info-Tech’s understanding of what constitutes MFT is fundamentally flawed. Of the ten products on the Data Quadrant, four aren’t actually MFT, so it’s not comparing like-for-like.

MFT solutions allow data to be transferred in a controlled, secure fashion, both inside and outside an organisation, between systems and / or users. This includes:

  • System-to-system transfers, such as automated batch transfers or workflows with a series of actions;
  • Transfers between people and systems, such as data capture forms with ongoing automated workflows;
  • Person-to-person or ‘ad hoc’ transfers.

The following four products are not MFT:

Accellion: This is a secure file sharing and collaboration solution only.

Adobe Send & Track: For ad hoc large files.

Citrix ShareFile: Electronic sync and share, for document collaboration.

LeapFile: For ad hoc person-to-person only.

2. Products missing from the Info-Tech MFT Data Quadrant

Only vendors who have paid for the report are able to market what it says about them. This is not independent and it is not a review of the complete market place.

While we firmly agree with the placement of HelpSystems GoAnywhere MFT and Ipswitch MOVEit, who were acquired by Progress earlier this year, there are several other market leaders not included on the Data Quadrant:

Globalscape EFT Server would score highly on both the ‘Feature’ and ‘Vendor’ matrix.

Coviant Diplomat MFT is benefiting from a lot of development at the moment, making it a likely player in the ‘Product Innovator’ quadrant.

We would also recommend Cornerstone MFT from South River Technologies (SRT) as a very good budget solution.

Other credible vendors missing from the quadrant include Axway, Seeburger, Jscape, Cleo and more…

3. Niche or incompatible products

There are several products on the Data Quadrant that just aren’t viable products for the majority of businesses. That’s either because they lack the development, are not enterprise-ready, or are niche to specific industries:

Oracle MFT: Our most recent market research identified there were only around one hundred Oracle MFT customers worldwide. Most of these sales came about to prevent customers discontinuing with their middleware product. There has been little development recently and their roadmap is limited.

SolarWinds Serv-U: This is a budget solution and not something we would recommend for enterprises. Since its acquisition by SolarWinds, the technology hasn’t kept pace with technical innovation and is now a long way behind other vendors. By using a Java web browser plugin, the adoption and usability of their product – especially in risk adverse enterprise environments – will be compromised. This feature is well behind the curve.

FileCatalyst: This is primarily for use within the media industries, with an emphasis on fast file transfer. It doesn’t have the necessary breadth of file transfer protocols or automation options to make it a mainstream MFT player.

IBM Managed File Transfer: This is ensconced in the banking/finance industry, built around their own delivery protocol (NDM). It’s an expensive solution, without the breadth of delivery protocols to make it a mainstream MFT player.

NEXT STEPS

If you are looking for an MFT solution, we strongly advise against using the Info-Tech MFT Data Quadrant for guidance.

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?

Digital transformation? Start by consolidating your data transfers

Digital transformation? Start by consolidating your data transfers

Starting your digital transformation is a daunting prospect. It is no secret that success is hard to achieve; researchers at the likes of MIT have proved it! Yet there is a simple starting point, which will get your project off on the right track. We recommend reviewing your data transfer processes and systems first. They tend to underpin most – if not all – of your operational processes, so you will quickly see opportunities to consolidate systems, whilst getting a great overview of what is in scope.

Your review should include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Existing FTP / SFTP servers;
  • Managed File Transfer solution;
  • Home grown solutions, particularly unmanaged scripts;
  • Ad hoc employee file sharing.

If you already have an MFT solution, we almost guarantee you will spot opportunities to consolidate many of these disparate systems and processes. And if you don’t have one, you will quickly start to see the benefit. There’s the immediate cost savings, plus many more opportunities for efficiencies in the long run. You will also benefit from increased security and visibility, with MFT providing a ‘single pane of glass’ view across all your incoming and outgoing file transfers, plus integration with other security tools such as AV and DLP.

MFT’s data integration capabilities allow you to extend the life of legacy systems, whilst integrating with new cloud-based applications. You keep your options open for future expansion, whilst facilitating the immediate benefits of digital transformation.

Here are the five top ways this technology will drive your digital transformation:

  • Empower employees with an accessible working environment;
  • Gain visibility of all data within and beyond the organisation, enabling data-driven decision making and easier governance;
  • Digitise your processes, including system-to-system, system-to-person, person-to-system and between people. This frees up time for employees to spend on value-add or mission critical work, whilst improving security;
  • You can select the best possible technology for each requirement then integrate between systems using APIs, rather than compromising on a product because it offers the out-of-the-box connectivity you need. You can also easily integrate new technologies as they become available;
  • Capitalise on the benefits of a cloud-based infrastructure, moving files to and from the cloud securely and integrating with applications to deliver onward business processes.

More on MFT and Digital Transformation

You can find out more about this technology in our White Paper, Enablers of Digital Transformation: MFT & Data Integration. You will get a clear understanding of the role Managed File Transfer plays in delivering all aspects of your data strategy, improving operational processes and security by integrating business applications.