There was a time when managed file transfer (MFT) solutions were considered a luxury; a nice-to-have for IT departments and large organizations. Those days are gone. Today, MFT has become mission-critical, particularly for those in the financial services and healthcare industries.
But why – what is driving this shift to managed file transfer inside so many businesses today?
To address this question, we brought together two Ipswitch File Transfer customers and an industry analyst for a roundtable discussion in our webinar the 4 Reasons Every Business Needs a Managed File Transfer Solution. The three subject experts were:
- Rebecca Freise, Automation Application Specialist for Oppenheimer Funds
- Regan McBride, Business Process Automation Consultant to multiple businesses including VIVA Health
- Michael Osterman, Principal at Osterman Research
Here’s what we heard from the panel:
#1. Security is not an option (it’s a necessity)
These days, it’s hard to find a company that isn’t letting employees work remotely; that doesn’t have employees using mobile devices to get work done, and that doesn’t have a set of employees using a consumer-esqe file management tool like Dropbox. While convenient for some, these policies are a nightmare for IT departments, who must ensure that file transfers are both secure and auditable. Michael Osterman explains the dilemma:
“You may have sensitive or confidential content sent in violation of the corporate regulations or a variety of regulatory statutes. In many cases, IT simply can’t audit that content. They don’t know where it’s going. They don’t know how long it’s going to live. They don’t know who sent it to whom and how it was disseminated from there.”
See the problem? On a fundamental level, IT requires visibility and control of the entire file transfer process – something all the panelists agreed on – and the only way to ensure this level of control is through an MFT solution.
#2. You can’t risk violating regulations
Without an MFT solution, companies run the risk of violating a growing number of statutes and regulations designed to protect sensitive data from being breached. In fact, many businesses will find that regulatory requirements are the primary reason for adopting MFT.
#3. It’s not just about moving files, it’s about supporting business process
Managed file transfer is not about supporting the frivolous transfer of files between employees. It’s about supporting efficient file transfer as part of a business process – and therefore allows IT to better manage what happens next to the files or data.
Ragan McBride explained:
“A lot of our employees were going out to FTP sites on their own, grabbing data using regular FTP clients. IT would then have to get involved to unencrypt a lot of that data. We would trust that those users were using the data correctly, importing it to their databases as expected and making sure the data formats were correct. We were finding a lot of time was being spent on the IT side (helping end users figure this out).”
A managed file transfer system not only manages the file transfer, but also tracks the file’s connection to the corresponding business process, whether that business process is another system, a desktop user or a mobile user.
#4 – MFT makes life easier for IT Teams
This may best explain the continued adoption of MFT – MFT systems help make life easier for IT teams, addressing pain points such as audits and reporting and freeing up time to focus on more important tasks--instead of wasting time dealing with ad hoc file transfer requests, sifting through file transfer data to debug an issue, and locating lost files.
Rebecca Freise shared that prior to their MFT system, “We had issues with researching and finding specific transmissions and reporting on specific timeframes of file transmissions. And then trying to do an audit and report on specific clients was difficult and very time-consuming. Just doing any kind of research on any transmission was difficult. It took a lot of meeting hours to get things accomplished.”
And Michael Osterman explained this further,
“If you don’t have a good file transfer system in place, IT ends up having to do a lot of extra work to manage all of those file transfer processes, often on an ad hoc basis. The creation and maintenance of file transfer technologies becomes a real burden for IT simply because they have to do things like write custom scripts to move files, they need to build additional security around FTP servers that in many cases are just inherently insecure, they have to devote IT staff resources to manage the file transfer process where they otherwise wouldn’t have to if you had a good solution in place, and they have to use staff resources to manage all of the security and really the risk mitigation that goes along with file transfer.”
And in days of tightening budgets and strained resources, what IT group wouldn’t take something that can save precious time and remove some day-to-day headaches?
For more on the growing need for Managed File Transfer solutions, view the 4 Reasons Why Every Business Needs an MFT Solution webinar or read Michael Osterman’s recent guest post.