Our lives and information exist in the form of data. If an individual or an organization gets their hands on our files, they can disrupt our personal lives, or in the case of companies, competitors or hackers could use the information to significantly damage business. For this very reason, businesses need to understand how to protect themselves, their information, and their clients’ or customers’ information.
This is where Managed File Transfer comes in.
What is Managed File Transfer?
In 1971, the world was introduced to File Transfer Protocol. FTP allowed individuals and organizations to transfer their computer files, on a computer network, between a client and a server. It was a simple solution to the problem of moving large amounts of data from one computer to another. But in recent years, FTP has failed to deliver in one essential aspect: security. To address this issue, MFT was developed. The most simplistic way to describe it is FTP on steroids. But it’s so much more than that.
Managed File Transfer is a service or software that securely transfers data through a network. It is mainly marketed to corporations as an alternative to HTTP and FTP, and while it is not yet universally used, it is becoming the industry standard. It is available as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) or as an on-premise licensed software package. There are several features of MFT that make it unique from FTP and other file transfer services, including:
- Production of detailed user and file transfer activity reports.
- Use of documented application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate to existing applications.
- Authentication of users with LDAP, Active Directory, and other user repositories.
- Handling and detection of failed file transfers, as well as other automated file transfer processes.
- Use of multiple data encryption methods to store files securely.
- Use of encrypted file transfer protocols to transfer files over private and public networks securely.
- Support of several file transfer protocols, such as HTTP/S, AS2, SCP, FTP/S, SFTP, and OFTP.
In short, the monitoring of performance metrics, reporting, end-to-end security, non-repudiation, automation, audibility, and global visibility make MFT the gold standard of data transfer for SOA, Cloud, B2B, A2A, Accelerated Transfer and Ad Hoc. This wide-spread of applicability, as well as the nature of moving data today, is moving MFT from a great option to an absolute necessity.
Why Do You Need MFT?
The primary reason for the use of Managed File Transfer is legal. Legislation like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have made institutional data transfer requirements even stricter. And while these acts mainly affect healthcare and financial institutions, other industries are recognizing the need for the design, implementation and maintenance of private information protection. This will especially come into play as the US-EU Safe Harbor program becomes increasingly enforced.
Another reason Managed File Transfer is gaining popularity is its user friendliness. Organizations need a more secure way to transfer files without a messy system that requires tens of tools, vendors, systems integrators and internal developers. MFT manages to avoid tumbling into the abyss of custom code, while providing security. The file processing and integrating are easy to understand and easy to manage. Companies are able to quickly track and transfer files around the globe. They can both monitor, with improved compliance and governance and reduced IT costs, and manage, using a single interface throughout systems, partners, applications, business units and operations.
Arguably the most tangible reason many businesses are making the move to Managed File Transfer is money. Files are critical for pretty much every business function, from payroll and inventory to trade settlement and asset management. In fact, more than half of the average organization’s system integrations rely on files. And the movement of these files, in an efficient way, is a challenge that 88% of businesses are facing. But it’s not just about moving the current file volume, it’s also about addressing the issue of increasing volume and size–file size is growing by more than 6% and file volume by more than 8% annually. With this growth and the fact that it costs roughly $0.05 to trouble shoot a file transfer, businesses need the security and efficiency of the MFT system to reduce costs and keep up with the pace of global business.
A Closer Look at an MFT Solution
One popular Managed File Transfer software is Flux. It has become a standout product because of the extensive features that it offers. In addition to supporting scheduled file transfer workflows and file watching that uses FTP, it also supports Binary/ASCII mode, Passive/Active mode, FTPS client and server certificates, SFTP private key files, FTPS, SFTP, and TLS, SSL and implicit SSL encryption protocols for FTPS.
Users are also able to steer clear of processing transferred files that are incomplete because of Flux’s watching feature. Any incoming files that arrives via Secure FTOP, the local file system, FTP, FTP-SSL or a UNC network share can be watched and then processed within the workflow.
There is also a convenient mix of ease of use and customizability with Flux. Users are able to change the file permissions on FTP servers, issue FTP commands to their FTP server directly within a workflow, and, instead of writing a temporary copy of a file, the file transfer avoids occupying disk space and increases the speed of the transfer by streaming the file in a way that writes only to the disk on the target FTP server.
The Flux Managed File Transfer platform understands that there needs to be increased timeliness and reduced errors in file transfers, while not sacrificing security. Their automated software allows for this in all of your data sending and retrieval with business partners, applications, vendors and clients.