What is MFT?

Hanz Jorgensen

If you have ever worked in the IT industry over the past 20 years, and have dealt with data storage for any amount of time, you probably are aware of the acronym “MFT.”  You know it stands for master file table, a “table of contents” if you will, containing information on every file within a NTFS hard drive.

Recently, however, the MFT acronym is being used for another term which is gaining popularity at a rapid rate.  Managed file transfer is a term which didn’t exist more than just a few years ago, and is now being used to cover a broad scope of existing file transmission protocols and methods.  Protocols such as FTP(S), SFTP, HTTP(S), and SMTP, all of which existed long before the coined term, but now have additional and very beneficial functionality integrated with them.

So what is MFT as it pertains to a managed file transfer?  MFT refers to a solution which can use one or more of the previously mentioned protocols, along with integrated and highly desired functionality, such as audit capabilities, centralization of data, enhanced automation, and most importantly, increased security.  These additional tools and functionality, along with the need for enhanced security methods, is what’s responsible for the recent rise in demand of MFT applications.

MFT solutions can provide full internal and external audit capabilities.  On the internal side, it can tell you which system user logged in, at what time they logged in, and what change, if any, they made to which part of the system.  On the external side, it can tell you what file(s) went where, how they went there, if they were received successfully, and if so, what time all of this took place.  This can be an invaluable tool for the day-to-day administration of the system, as well as aiding in regulatory compliance.

Centralization of data and transmission methods is another great benefit to an MFT solution.  Decentralized file transfers can be an organization’s biggest security threat.  I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve worked with who have no idea how many FTP servers they have running throughout their network.  Having no way of knowing what data is available, and to whom, is a tremendous problem.  Centralized control over file transfers, and specifically FTP transmissions, can have benefits beyond enhanced security, such as, ease-of-use for end users and administrators, lower use of company resources,  and again, regulatory and audit compliance.

Another feature of MFT solutions is the automation capability.  Jobs and processes can be executed on a given timeframe without the need for manual intervention.  Additionally, jobs may be executed when files arrive at a specific time or into a specific folder.  Alerts can be sent to any party designated.  IT managers can be alerted to unexpected events with the system, or users can be alerted when a file is sent or received.  In addition, this type of built in functionality can save organizations an incredible amount of time and money with the reduction of complicated scripting and programming, and the knowledge base required to maintain them.

MFT, or managed file transfer, is simply a progression of the file transfer process and the future of file transmissions.  If you want to learn more about MFT, or how bTrade software solutions can help with any MFT needs, please contact us at info@btrade.com.