For many years, transferring data between systems and people has been a vital part of business processes. Sharing digital documents and media with colleagues, customers, and partners alike has enabled companies to collaborate better. With that collaboration has come greater productivity and profitability in the workplace.
While file transfer protocol (FTP) was the first standard developed to transfer files via the internet, its shortcomings in reliability and security called for an alternative solution. Enter managed file transfer, or MFT for short.
The basics of managed file transfer
MFT is a technology that offers a secure, reliable way to share critical business data both internally and externally, meaning typically behind or outside the firewalls of the organization.
One of the main differences between MFT and FTP relates to data security (or, in the case of FTP, a lack thereof). Whereas FTP leaves data unencrypted in a file transfer and thus subject to vulnerabilities, MFT leverages network protocols and encryption methods to ensure data securely reaches its destination — and remains secure there.
The other big differentiator between MFT and FTP is MFT’s robustness. Built with scalability in mind, MFT supports the transfer of more extensive data files, with the ability to automate and track these transfers from a single point of administration. This speeds up the exchange of data while enhancing the quality of the delivered information.
Today, MFT is used across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and financial services. And as studies show, growth is expected.
In 2020, the managed file transfer software industry was valued at $1.58 billion. By 2028, that number is expected to reach $2.99 billion — a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 10%.
How has MFT evolved since it was first introduced?
It’s safe to say that file sharing has come a long way. While MFT is a product of that growth, the technology itself has also evolved.
Managed file transfer was first introduced decades ago in response to the need to control and govern data. In its earliest iterations, MFT technology offered a centralized solution to oversee the lifecycle of transferred data, from modifications to movements. These products operated under a standard set of features to allow for data encryption, administrative automation, security protocol support, and user management.
While holding onto those core concepts, managed file transfer products have evolved with the times — and this translates into new opportunities for businesses. Below are a few examples.
As industry regulations have become more stringent, MFT products strive to keep pace. By offering support for the latest protocols and a more comprehensive list, these products ensure businesses have the flexibility to securely and reliably transfer all files. These various protocols include HTTP/S, SWIFT, and AS2, AS3, and AS4 transfers.
Centralized administration of file transfers offers better control and more detailed monitoring: for example, you can create rules that will notify you if certain files did not get processed. With centralized visibility, organizations can get proactive insights before there is a business impact.
Did you know that 30% of business-critical functions involve file transfers? With this statistic in mind, modern MFT products embrace new capabilities to help these transfers happen faster, so businesses can stay productive. Parallel transmission control protocol (TCP) connections are a prime example. By splitting a single TCP connection into a series of simultaneous data streams, more data can be processed between hosts in a shorter period of time.
In a world that’s becoming increasingly connected, it’s only natural that today’s MFT products have made native integration with third-party services a priority. Consider this connection in the context of anti-virus software. By integrating the two technologies, you can conveniently scan files to ensure they’re free of malicious content that could harm your environment. On the flip side, you can easily check outgoing files to ensure that sensitive data isn’t leaked along with a file transfer.
Market trends paint a clear picture of the value of self-service capabilities in modern MFT products, from the sheer rise in transferred data volumes to users’ need for speed. Without the need for installation and configuration, employees now have the means to quickly transfer files without risk from the convenience of their mobile device or desktop computer. While creating a better employee experience, this self-service approach also takes some of the burden off busy IT teams.
Axway offers support for your MFT strategy
At Axway, we understand the valuable role transferred data plays in your business’s infrastructure. When it comes to a service as foundational as MFT, it’s vital to have a mature partner that understands your business inside and out. Axway supports the largest file transfer systems in the world, with the widest variety of integration patterns. Let us make your MFT process simple, secure, and reliable.
There are many managed file transfer solutions out there. Here’s what to look for in an MFT solution in 7 words.