For the past 30 years, FTP has been the standard method of transferring large files between employees and partners but it has not been reliable, secure, or flexible enough for today’s IT demands. Even with the increased use of more secure FTP protocols such as sFTP and FTP over SSL, it was not enough. As file attachments to email got larger and more difficult to send through SMTP, especially with the size of multi-media documents being shared with each other and business partners. Compliance standards such as SOX, HIPAA and PCI-DSS have also increased regulatory pressures on file transfer.

Managed File Transfer (MFT) solutions have been around for many years but have been slow to move into mainstream. The market demands have now brought these solutions to the forefront. MFT reduces risk and cost, increases reliability and visibility and simplifies partner relationships.

Compliance and security have fueled the growth of MFT, but new features are being introduced that add capabilities to the basic function of file sharing. Users now want to be able to share files in an ad-hoc manner, and organizations want to schedule regular file transfers that can also be integrated with their business systems. The advancement of social networks has led to collaboration features coming into MFT. Cloud based MFT solutions are gaining ground but buyers are still wary of potential security issues: especially those under regulatory constraints. Mobile access is still in its infancy in MFT solutions but several vendors have already addressed it or are addressing it through new product development and acquisitions.

The growth of these trends, and the varying degrees to which vendors support them has identified some key differentiators in the marketplace. What we thought would be a level playing field turned out not to be. Different vendors are appropriate for different use cases, and appropriate for different sizes of organization. We saw the full spectrum of solutions that can expand to include full enterprise application and business partner integration down to simple lightweight solutions that allow for orchestration of the file send and receive processes automated with security and assured delivery capabilities.

With the revolution of Big Data and the increased use of collaboration, mobile and integration technologies, MFT will become more pervasive in organizations over the coming years. Expect to see vendors address unique market segments in their product offerings.

For more information, please see Vendor Landscape: Managed File Transfer.

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