Mft is a lot in talk these days with companies focusing on improving file transfer capabilities with ever increasing volume and ofcourse compliance requirements. While market is now occupied with a lot of products by different Vendors like IBM,Axway,Tibco, etc. some being cloud based and few other are in-house solutions there are few points to consider when moving to a MFT solution –
Security – Security is the one of the key reasons why companies are looking for an MFT based transfer. With more & more B2B data being transmitted over internet nowadays there is definitely a need to protect company’s business data. Whichever solution you go for, do make sure that it supports all types of secured protocols like https, ftps, sftp, etc. Also these solutions offer various encryption techniques which would be necessary in certain situations like exchanging financial data with banks etc.
Audit & Compliance – Another important feature be it for compliance reason or for ease of troubleshooting. It makes sense to have this feature while investing in an mft product/service. “who sent what” is something business users are always worried about. Since each activity is logged end-to-end, it helps organisations meet compliance requirements be it SOX,HIPAA, etc.
Some products offer integration with reporting tools like Cognos throughwhich different reports can be generated for business users & technicals teams. Good example wouldbe looking at daily reports to find a suitable maintenance window.
Scalability – Number is files transfer is ever growing business but whats more pressing issue is the increasing size of files. With filesize (in GBs) comes into picture is speed of transfer. There are few products which sell as high speed solutions & utilise UDP to speedup the transfers. How quickly can a partner be onboarded and ease to use & understand the product(inhouse) are also
important. Overall it should reduce the effort required to setup the partners with simple to use features and templates.
Reliable – Environment factors are unavoidable so the recovery features of product have to ensure auto recovery in case of failures without any manual intervention. Products have features like auto-retry, auto-resume( incase of network glitch), integrity checks, alert mechanism etc. which are features lacking in vanilla FTP or are implemented using some custom process with FTP.
Manageability – Centralised management of all file transfers, having visibility into any transfers happening within & outside the organisation reduces overheads as compared to disparate solutions. MFT solution forms the single backbone capable of addressing all types of file transfer needs and simplifying the integrations.
Some other factors to consider are –
Inhouse or hosted(SaaS) approach – Hosted solutions are easily built and donot require any special skills inhouse to maintain the solutions. Service providers take charge from onboarding partner to maintenance. It can also be scaled-up/scaled-down easily during peak/low volume season. You might have some challenges around custom processes, datavisibility to 3rd party, overall cycle time, etc.
Inhouse on the other hand will require investment in terms of effort to maintain the systems & build an inhouse team of experts to handle all aspects of development & maintenance. Since in-house requires infrastructure expenses to setup the systems, cost is also and important factor to consider. Hosted solutions have quite predictable expense sheet as these are laid down in advance based on number of users and does not depend on infrastructure & resources.
These are just some key factors. There are a lot of other factors to consider like API usage, platform support etc. while evaluating the best product that meets all the needs of the organisation. While these are the technical consideration, business needs can surely be translated to technical requirements & accordingly mapped to pinpoint a product.