What is MFT?

Managed file transfer (MFT) is a technology platform that allows organizations to reliably exchange electronic data between systems and people in a secure way to meet compliance needs. These data movements can be both internal and external to an enterprise and include various types, including sensitive, compliance-protected or high-volume data. It can be offered as software or as a service and may include a single pane for visibility and governance.

MFT is a more reliable and efficient means for secure data and file transfer, outpacing and outperforming applications such as file transfer protocol (FTP), hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) and other methods.
Organizations increasingly rely on MFT to support their business needs and goals in a way that FTP cannot. FTP presents many challenges (PDF, 571 KB) such as data security gaps, lack of visibility when a problem occurs, timely manual recovery from failures and costly SLA fees due to poor performance.


Benefits of managed file transfer

Data exchange solutions will continue to be in demand because no business is an island and business networks continue to grow, requiring qualities of service that only purpose-built software can deliver," says Stewart Bond, director of Data Integration and Integrity Software research at IDC.¹

Companies rely on the exchange of electronic file data every day. According to a study by Vanson-Bourne, sponsored by IBM, 51 percent of system-to-system integration is achieved through file transfers.¹ Without MFT software, unstructured data — everything from reports, contracts and project data, to customer and employee information — is open to manipulation and loss. The efficient movement of files between internal systems and external partners, securely and with an audit trail, is critical to an organization’s success.

There are several factors pushing companies to move to MFT:

  • Data security: High-profile data breaches and failed transfers can drastically impact a company’s bottom line and reputation. MFT offers a preemptive security strategy with real-time monitoring, and validation security policies and controls to protect data in transit or at rest.
  • Data growth: Data is everywhere, and companies face larger and more varied files than in the past. The number of users sharing files has grown as have the number of end-points and devices. And as files get larger, the time to move them over global distances becomes longer. MFT brings reliable, automated governance to the movement of files inside and outside the business and can accelerate big data movements around the globe.
  • Regulatory compliance: Legislative and industry requirements such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), Basel II, Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and others — typically have stringent data security standards. Using a properly-configured MFT system to encrypt, transmit, monitor and store sensitive data empowers organizations to meet security mandates.
  • Technology megatrends: Moving files has become more complex with the adoption of transformational technologies. The growth of big data, cloud applications, artificial intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) place a premium on the speed and bulk of file transfers. MFT offers advanced capabilities and support for multiple platforms, mobile devices, applications and other existing IT infrastructure.
  • Visibility: Companies need to anticipate risk factors to mitigate damages. Operational visibility over file movements leads to proactive issue resolution, like failed transfers and improved compliance with SLA commitments.

Key capabilities of effective managed file transfer

Security

Encrypt internal and external transfers, in motion and at rest. Secure file transfers with advanced capabilities like session breaks and protocol inspection maximize the protection of sensitive data at multiple layers.

Simplified file transfer

Offers timely and flexible data transfer across a range of file transfer activities and support for multiple file types, including multimedia, PDFs, email, XML, EDI and more.

Full visibility

Provides a 360-degree view in near-real time. Companies can see who is transferring files, what is being shared and the volume passing through the system. Potential issues like delays and failed transfers are visible before they impact downstream business processes or become missed SLAs.

Compliance standards

Strong encryption helps companies avoid compliance failures which can lead to hefty fines. Thorough audit trails confirm regulatory compliance.

Blogs and resources

Four keys to effectively monitor and control secure file transfer

Dramatically improve the security, auditability, service delivery and scalability of your file transfer operations.

Ovum report on managed file transfer

Get details about how IBM is modernizing MFT solutions for evolving business IT requirements.

Your business is complex, your file transfer doesn't need to be

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how the right MFT capabilities help drive out complexities.

How to be a file transfer hero

Everyone needs visibility and governance, especially in your entire MFT environment. Here’s the easy way to monitor your file transfers like a champion.

Data Exchange in the Era of Digital Transformation

Learn how data exchange as-a-service is being leveraged by more than 50% of organizations around the world while more than 33% of organizations still use form-based exchanges.

IBM Connect:Direct Web Console Overview

See how IBM Connect:Direct provides security-hardened, point-to-point file transfers to lessen dependency on unreliable File Transfer Protocol (FTP) transfers.

MFT software solutions

IBM Sterling Connect:Direct

Provides security-hardened, point-to-point file transfers to lessen dependency on unreliable file transfer protocol (FTP) transfers.

IBM Sterling Control Center

Tracks critical events across your B2B and managed file transfer infrastructure for improved operations, customer service and B2B governance.

IBM Sterling Control Center Director

Identify and audit Connect:Direct license entitlements, schedule and deploy patches and updates, and manage server configurations.

IBM Sterling File Gateway

Allows you to consolidate all internet-based file transfers on a single, scalable, security-rich and always-on edge gateway.

IBM Sterling Partner Engagement Manager

Automates the onboarding process, reducing the time and resources required to onboard new partners while managing existing partners.

IBM Sterling Secure File Transfer

Securely share and track mission-critical information movement within your enterprise and across your partner network.