So much data, so little time. If only it were that simple. Whether you need to invest in a managed file transfer (MFT) solution is not just about the volume of data you are moving, but the nature of the data and the environments through which the data is being moved. Asking the following questions might make it easier to answer the larger question of “Do I need an MFT solution?”
1. What is this data?
Are you sending flat files? X12, Edifact, XML, or other standardized EDI data? Pictures from the last office party? Certainly, if the data you are sending is casual in nature, then sending these types of files as an email attachment is relatively fine. If the data you are sending is in the least bit sensitive, an MFT application should be a consideration so you can guarantee that the intended receiver is the only person who can see the data.
2. How much data do I send?
Consider how much time you spend sending even one file manually. Wouldn’t it be nice to just drop a file in a folder and have the file sent on its way? Imagine the time savings you could have if your application that is generating your files is seamlessly integrated with your MFT application.
So, what if you are sending a lot of data, but you’re doing so through a Value-Added Network (VAN) and the data charges are growing and growing. The answer? MFT! If your trading partners offer a direct AS2 or other connection option, you can cut out the VAN and their monthly charges.
3. Do I care about my data?
Of course you do, and in an increasingly hostile network world, keeping your data secure is paramount and increasingly difficult to do. MFT applications offer multiple layers of protection. You can encrypt your files; sign the files digitally so that the receiver knows they are from you and allowing only the intended receiver to decrypt them; and finally, connecting to your trading partner securely to deliver the secured file. Compare this to sending your data as an email attachment, which may be intercepted at some point in the stream, or dropping a file into a “Cloud box” that may not be as secure as you think, and the contents of which might be viewed by the service provider at will.
At point, if you are sending more than a few files a month that are of things other than pictures of grumpy cats, you may have concluded that a managed file transfer solution is the right decision for you and your data. As you go about your research of which MFT solution to implement, look for a provider who has been in the industry for decades, not months. Look for a company who not only has major corporations, financial institutions, and governments using their product, but also a company that can deliver a viable solution to the IT Department whose name is “Bob.”