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Managed File Transfer - What is it?

Kevin Conklin| May 21 2018

| security

No matter which industry sector your business operates in, facilitating collaboration among your employees, customers and business partners is a key factor in driving business process efficiencies and increasing your revenue generation potential. Collaboration requires moving information that at some point will need to leave the secure infrastructure of your organization.

Businesses transfer data in many ways—using email, shared cloud storage and integrated applications. But when end users keep data files stored anywhere and everywhere, businesses lose control and expose themselves to risks of data being mishandled or lost.

Some organizations in need of a file transfer infrastructure to protect their data simply reach for a basic FTP server by default. That can be the answer if you need to make files available, create a space where end users can drop files into a process, and script all around those activities to keep things moving while also maintaining some sense of security. But as file volumes have increased in recent years, so too have the range of processes involving file exchange broadened, and this creates risks in terms of securing digital assets.

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Increase in File Transfer Types Creates More Risk

This trend has prompted a corresponding increase in the number and variety of file transfer software solutions. In the past decade, we have seen the emergence of a new category—Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS), which consists mostly of personal tools to help individuals share files in the cloud between a myriad of devices: smartphones and tablets as well as home and work desktops.

While easy for end users, EFSS services have become a real security problem for IT departments. That’s because the simplicity, openness, and device-friendliness they allow come at a real cost to the control, visibility and security protections that are the IT department’s responsibility.

When handling file transfers, IT has to meet the needs of both end users and the business. And on the business side, things have grown increasingly complex. Today, the variety of business processes that depend on reliable file transfer is up just as much as the volume of transfer activity. The need to manage all of this activity under tight, end-to-end security and compliance programs means nothing can be left to chance.

Managed File Transfer to the Rescue

Where simple FTP was once sufficient, IT now has to reach for a more capable infrastructure that combines the end-user simplicity of EFSS, the reliability of FTP, and the business-process focus of integration middleware. This needs to be done in a way that doesn’t inadvertently transform what has traditionally been a solvable problem into a messy, bespoke custom development situation.

The last thing you want to do is to engage transfer solution vendors with their bag of forty tools, complemented by expensive internal developers and systems integrations. Many IT teams are taking on this challenging by leveraging the benefits of Managed File Transfer (MFT). MFT software offers more than a super slick FTP server. This transfer technology combines end-user simplicity with reliability and security to facilitate critical business processes.

Even though file transfer is at the core of MFT, it’s the <M> in MFT that sets the category apart from other transfer methodologies. MFT solutions are a purpose-specific class of middleware focused on the reliable transfer of files between business parties. Using simple, secure file transfer protocols and easy-to-understand models of exchange, MFT is fortified with secure encryption, manageability, scalability, file processing, integration and business-reporting options. With these capabilities, IT teams can deliver more sophisticated and controlled file-transfer solutions—without slipping into the custom-code abyss.

What is Managed File Transfer

 How Managed File Transfer Works

A Managed File Transfer solution, which typically runs on a dedicated MFT server, provides the security and control required for high-volume, secure file transfers. IT gains complete visibility over all file transfer activities and can assure the reliability of core business processes through the secure and compliant transfer of sensitive data among employees, partners and customers.

By consolidating all file transfer activities into one system, IT can also leverage centralized access controls, file encryption, and activity tracking. This helps ensure compliance with internal SLAs, internal governance policies, and regulatory requirements.

Using standard network protocols along with encryption methods, IT can also use MTP to automate and transfer data across on-premises networks and cloud environments. Authorized users can send files via email attachments, through the cloud via their browsers, or by using file transfer digital workflows set up by IT. Files can also be placed in dedicated folders that end users can connect to after being authorized through two-factor authentication.

IT can also set up automated transfer workloads without the need for scripting. This accelerates the rollout of new services and the onboarding of external data-sharing partners by reducing development time while also decreasing the likelihood of errors.

Businesses can tap into both on-premises and cloud service MFT options. The leading solutions are auditor-certified to be fully compliant with PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR and other major regulations.

Facilitating Business Without Putting Digital Assets at Risk

If your existing file transfer systems require scripts to be written and maintained, significant manual activities, and high-touch maintenance to add or change partners or processes, Managed File Transfer provides a better way. Utilizing MFT will become increasingly important as your data volumes and security concerns grow in direct correlation to each other.

MFT is emerging as an indispensable technology just as moving data reliably and securely at the right time plays a bigger role in the success of many businesses. Those that routinely transfer financial, personal and other sensitive data who are concerned about data security, accessibility and compliance—while also maintaining control—need a strong managed file transfer (MFT) solution. Only then can they address these needs in a reliable and automated manner while also eliminating data errors, reducing costs, and making transfers easy for both IT and end users.

While file sharing methods such as FTP and EFSS may be appropriate for some situations, they don’t properly protect sensitive business information. Conversely, MFT solutions provide an effective way to create a secure IT environment for sending files both within and outside your organization. Companies that use MFT solutions can securely transfer sensitive information when needed so internal and external teams can do business without putting digital assets at risk.

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File Transfer Protocol (FTP) vs. Managed File Transfer (MFT) - Ipswitch Blog

Topics: security

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Kevin Conklin

Kevin joined Ipswitch in 2015 and leads the company’s product and content marketing practices. He is widely recognized for his product marketing accomplishments in information technologies. He is a serial startup executive having played instrumental roles in the success of such companies as for Prelert, VKernel, Mazu Networks and Smarts, Inc. and has been instrumental to the success of these IT management technology companies. Kevin is also the co-host of the PICNIC Podcast live show (https://picnic-podcast.com/), sharing experiences and best practices, providing a voice of expertise, and educating IT professionals with the latest technology challenges.

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