What Managed File Transfer Options Are Available? On-Premise vs. Hosted MFT

A wide array of managed file transfer (MFT) options challenges firms to choose a solution that satisfies feature demands, infrastructure capacity, and budgets. The growth of cloud or “hosted” MFT further complicates the selection process by introducing additional considerations about maintenance, scalability, and costs.

That being the case, how can you identify the best MFT solution for your organization? Cloud computing’s fast rise to prominence points to benefits inherent to hosted or SaaS solutions, yet most MFT products are still on-premise. Might there be reasons for the continued dominance of on-premise MFT beyond hosted options having not “caught up” to the establishment?

To get a clearer picture of which MFT options are available, let’s examine the differences between hosted and on-premise solutions. We’ll do so with an emphasis on the potential advantages of each.

On-premise MFT

When it comes to an overall feature suite, on-premise MFT has a substantial leg up on the competition. It’s simply a more mature platform and has evolved alongside enterprise for many years.

Consider integration. Relative to hosted solutions, on-premise MFT tends to provide more application integration flexibility. For example, Axway SecureTransport MFT Gateway uses standardized protocols to move files among internal applications, and the company’s A2A solution supports various methods of integration, including APIs, across applications. Attachmate FileXpress also offers robust integration capabilities, addressing challenges like data volume exchange, process integration, event processing, and alerts.

However, advanced integration isn’t the only area where on-premise solutions shine. The fact that files need not travel to remote servers (as they do with hosted MFT) avoids potential delivery delays and takes a lot of the sting out of sending large files.

And it’s not just the underlying architecture of on-premise MFT that helps organizations maximize transfer speeds. IBM’s Sterling solution, for instance, offers stateless protocol, parallel delivery, and checkpoint/restart – all of which either boost transfer speeds or prevent interrupted transfers from stopping delivery in its tracks.

Might hosted solutions someday compete on the same fronts? Perhaps. Many are making great strides in these categories, although on-premise MFT maintains the edge.
Hosted or SaaS MFT
Speaking of strides hosted MFT solutions have made, let’s look at costs. The cost of purchasing and maintaining an on-premise solution varies widely depending on the breadth of the implementation, hardware requirements, and necessary integrations. Up-front costs are high, making the yearly, per-user expense of a hosted option appear cheap by comparison.

But beware. While an initial investment in hosted MFT may be far less than in on-premise MFT, the long-term costs of user subscriptions could eventually catch up with your budget. If anything, it’s safe to declare the costs a draw. Depending on your circumstances, either could come out better than the other over the long term.

Expenses aside, other problems each type of MFT handles with roughly equal effectiveness include disaster recovery – hosted and on-premise both offer robust backup functionality – and, believe it or not, maintenance of IT control. In fact, some of the most successful SaaS MFT products are those that give IT the most room to stay involved.

But it’s deployment where hosted MFT comes out strongest. Not having to power and maintain big servers yourself is one of the primary drivers behind enterprise adoption of cloud technology, and cloud-based MFT is no different in this regard.

Consider the Ipswitch MOVEit Cloud MFT solution, which, according to the company, can be live and functioning in a matter of hours. Additional hardware investments for hosted MFT are minimal to non-existent. The primary thing you should consider is whether transferring large files to remote servers will slow down your internet connection (hint: it probably will) and plan accordingly.

Additionally, many SaaS options offer painless scalability. According to a self-authored white paper, Thru’s cloud-based MFT solution lets clients grow usage on-demand via infinitely scalable databases and application servers. Organizations can just purchase additional services and hit the ground running.
So, who gets the nod?
It depends. What does your organization demand in an MFT solution? On-premise options boast high transfer speeds, a wide range of integrations, and expansive feature suites. There’s something for nearly everybody.

On the other hand, firms that demand speedier deployment and would come out better under a per-user subscription model should investigate what SaaS MFT providers are offering. Neither “gets the nod.” What matters is weighing your needs against what’s available and choosing an effective, sustainable solution.

Rest assured: as long as you’re determined to eliminate email attachments, shared folders, and other insecure file transfer methods from the workplace, you’re on the right track.

This is the fourth post in a 10-part series on managing file transfers. Read rest of the series here. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to receive the next posts.

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