Much has happened in the managed file transfer (MFT) market in the last couple years. Some prominent players have been acquired, others have added as-a-service offerings, and the market itself appears to be on the rise. With all this shifting around, some customers we talk to are unsure about MFT when it comes to renewals, modernization or re-platforming initiatives. Should they go for a service-based solution? Can they rely on the security of these solutions? Which company is going to provide the best support for its MFT offering?
To help, I have put together this list. Here are 5 things to consider when looking for a new MFT solution.
1) Complexity of file transfers
Sending files from A to B is not complicated and can be achieved by any file transfer solution. However, in our experience, soon after set up, other requirements for pre- and post-processing pop up. You may need to do something with the file before you send it, add something in post-processing, or, you might want to add a middle step. As you can see, what started as a simple file transfer can quickly become more complicated. To avoid scripting and future continuity challenges, a proper process engine including an agile workflow must be considered.
2) The market is shifting, and so are your file transfer needs
Since so much has changed in the last few years, whether you are new to MFT or are a veteran user, I recommend you do some research on companies and their offerings. Your file transfer solution is part of your overall integration scenario, so it’s important to take into account how a new solution will fit and work within it, in addition to your particular use cases and business needs. And, be prepared for internal shifting as well – your file transfer needs will continue to increase and change, and there will always be new requirements coming from within and outside your organization. Traditional Managed File Transfer provides end-to-end visibility and control over your application-to-application file transfers. Together with this internal requirement, an external file gateway is required to centralize your external file exchange and guarantee visibility and security. This gateway must be able to cover all your file transfer requirements, your B2B data exchange, and API integration, but also provide standard services such as upload and download capabilities for your employees and business partners.
3) Deployment and operational models
This is an area where a lot has changed in the last few years. Choosing a deployment model was an easy decision back in the day, when we only had two choices – but now there are many elements to consider. Your IT landscape is probably developing from on-premises to more and more private and public cloud. This has impact on both your file transfer endpoints as well as your deployment options. One important question that will help guide your decision: Is your organization ready to run MFT in the cloud or do you need to utilize a hybrid setup, at least for now? According to Rakesh Kukkamalla, Enterprise Architect and VP Professional Services, SEEBURGER, “Public cloud infrastructure like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and others made it extremely easy to provision servers and applications. I encourage you to consider digital MFT solutions that are cloud ready and can scale in a cloud infrastructure.” Read more in the blog post, The Evolution of Managed File Transfer.
The operational model should also be considered. You could have a third-party vendor handle the setup for your file transfers, so your team can focus on other tasks. If this is appealing, you should consider an MFTPaaS. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you will want the same thing down the road that you do today, so make sure your selected supplier supports your choice of deployment models, and will allow you to make changes as your needs change. According to Gartner, “MFTPaaS is experiencing rapid growth as an increasing number of organizations implement hybrid integration platforms (HIPs) to assist transfer between multiple clouds, multiple data centers and multiple external parties.” The right MFTPaaS solution can shift MFT expense from capex to opex, reduce costs for licensing and maintenance, and reduce your number of MFT instances and solutions. Be sure that the benefits match your needs and that your choice of vendor ensures the highest levels of security and governance.
4) Combining integration patterns – conversion, API, routing…
You know you need to avoid silos and spaghetti, but this can be easier said than done. In addition, your need to combine different integration patterns will continue to increase, so you need a flexible solution with this capability. At any point, you also may need to extract data, do some conversions, route a file or add intelligence to a flow to create more business value.
5) The right vendor, the best support
File Transfer is nothing new and there are lots of vendors and suppliers offering solutions. It’s easy to make a purchase, but when you want or have to make changes or updates, you must have the knowledge to do it yourself or have a partner that can (and will) support you. But sometimes, even support is not enough. You may need advice or guidance on how to make a change in the best way, information on how others have solved your challenge, and even suggested improvements that will make the solution work better for your business. This kind of support, or actually partnership, might be necessary for your success with the solution. So it’s important to choose your partner wisely.
We hope these considerations help you when choosing an MFT solution. SEEBURGER is here with expertise and support. To learn more or to set up a meeting, contact us today.
Watch our Webcast-on-Demand, with our customer MoneyGram International!
Watch this interview with SEB and discover how they transformed their basic MFT functionality to something much more.
 Gartner, ‘Market Snapshot: Managed File Transfer, Worldwide, 2020,’ Bindi Bhullar, Keith Guttridge, Mark O’Neil, Shameen Pillai, Kimihiko Iijima, 21 January 2021.
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