What is MFTaaS? An introduction to managed file transfer SaaS

MFTaaS is a cloud-based solution that centralizes and automates secure file transfer workflows, offering improved efficiency, security, and cost savings.
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Managed file transfer as a service (MFTaaS) is revolutionizing file transfer workflows by improving efficiency and security while reducing cost and maintenance. Its emergence coincides with businesses seeking to cut expenses, tackle growing cyber threats and meet the demand for streamlined operations. But what exactly is MFTaaS?

What is MFTaaS?

MFTaaS is a managed file transfer solution delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS). It retains the functionality of traditional MFT solutions while incorporating the benefits of cloud-based applications.

As an MFT solution, MFTaaS brings together all file transfer workflows into a centralized, highly secure and automated system. As a cloud-based service, it enables flexibility, scalability and global accessibility. It also eliminates the need for on-premises infrastructure and the upfront costs associated with it.

To gain a better grasp of MFTaaS, it might help to understand how it came into being.

Evolution of the MFT solution into SaaS

In the past couple of decades, leading MFT software applications have established themselves as the go-to solutions for organizations seeking an all-in-one tool that could handle both secure file transfer and business process automation workflows. Their comprehensive selection of security features enabled MFT solutions to handle sensitive data, while their automation features allowed them to facilitate real-time data transfers.

MFT solutions have traditionally been deployed on-premises. However, with the widespread adoption of cloud technology, top MFT vendors acknowledged the advantages of cloud-based solutions in meeting specific business requirements.

For instance, some businesses wanted to use managed file transfer solutions but didn’t have the in-house talent to administer and maintain those solutions. Some businesses also wanted to avoid the upfront costs for the underlying infrastructure, such as physical servers and network devices. Others likewise wanted to benefit from the flexibility, efficiency and scalability afforded by cloud-based solutions.

Leading MFT vendors like JSCAPE by Redwood decided to take the best logical step. These vendors now offer managed file transfer under a SaaS model.

On-premises vs. cloud-managed file transfer

MFTaaS, or cloud-based managed file transfer, evolved from the traditional on-premises MFT, so let’s look at some of the key differences between the two.

On-premises MFT

An on-premises MFT is a managed file transfer software you typically install and configure on a server in your own data center or office. Once an on-premises MFT is up and running, you’ll be responsible for managing, monitoring and maintaining not only the MFT solution, but also the underlying infrastructure.
It’s also your responsibility to keep an eye on new versions and patches and apply the necessary update once a new version or patch is available. If a problem arises, whether it be on the software itself, your operating system (OS), your hypervisor solution or your physical server, it’s also your responsibility to troubleshoot and resolve the issue.

MFTaaS

MFTaaS is still managed file transfer software, but it’s deployed by an MFTaaS provider on a cloud environment and delivered to customers as software-as-a-service. It doesn’t require any installation, nor does it require any physical server and data center/office space on your part. It’s essentially a turnkey solution that you access through the internet. After the initial setup, you can use it right away.

Your MFTaaS provider will take charge of all upgrades and patches. They will also be responsible for monitoring the health and performance of the MFT solution and the underlying infrastructure. If a problem arises, whether it be on the software itself, the OS or anything else on the underlying infrastructure, your provider will address it.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what MFTaaS is and how it differs from on-premises MFT, let’s talk about how MFTaaS improves efficiency, security and cost savings.

How MFTaaS improves efficiency

Traditional MFT solutions already improve business efficiency. Their automation capabilities streamline file transfer workflows and business processes. Through these automation features, businesses can even complete transactions in real-time. In addition, MFT load balancing components enable high availability, which reduces performance issues and operational downtime due to file transfer bottlenecks and server overload.

MFTaaS further improves efficiency through properties inherent in cloud-based services. For instance, cloud scalability allows your MFT environment to meet even larger file transfer demands. Moreover, the significantly reduced administrative overhead, wherein IT teams no longer have to install, manage, maintain and monitor underlying infrastructure, means the reduced workload can be reallocated to other IT tasks.

Sample scenario showing how MFTaaS improves efficiency

Consider a medium-sized business that frequently collaborated on large projects with partners and clients globally through an assortment of SFTP and FTP servers. Those file transfer servers required significant IT resources to manage and often struggled to handle peak demand periods, causing delays in project timelines.

After transitioning to MFTaaS, the company experienced a notable shift. The cloud's scalability effortlessly handled increased file transfer demands during peak periods. Additionally, the team previously dedicated to managing the file transfer infrastructure was reassigned to improve other IT services. This reallocation not only boosted the company's efficiency but also its overall operational effectiveness.

How MFTaaS enhances security and compliance capabilities

On-premises MFT solutions are already equipped with an array of security features that readily meet stringent data security policies and regulatory compliance requirements. Many of these solutions come with strong authentication options, data-at-rest and data-in-motion encryption, granular user and administrative permissions, malware detection, data loss prevention (DLP) and other enterprise-grade cybersecurity functions.

The robust selection of security features baked into most MFT solutions makes it relatively easy to comply with data privacy/data security laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

MFTaaS enhances your cyber defenses even more since it underpins all that built-in security with the world-class security infrastructure of its underlying cloud environment. Leading MFTaaS solutions run on reputable cloud providers like AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. These massive cloud providers can leverage economies of scale to allocate far greater resources and expertise for security than most organizations.

In fact, these providers are already compliant with all the regulations we mentioned earlier. AWS, for instance, supports 143 security standards and compliance certifications. So, when an MFTaaS solution runs on top of AWS, it inherits many of the security and compliance controls already supported by AWS. This includes controls for the operating system, virtualization environment, network infrastructure and even the data center facilities. In turn, as an MFTaaS customer, you inherit those controls as well.

Sample scenario showing how MFTaaS improves security and compliance

Imagine a United States-based healthcare organization that needs to exchange sensitive patient data with other organizations. It has to comply with HIPAA requirements. By adopting an MFTaaS solution running on AWS, the organization can securely transfer files while meeting these stringent compliance requirements. The comprehensive security functions baked into the MFTaaS solution ensure that any file transfer is protected both in transit and at rest.

Furthermore, the organization benefits from AWS's vast compliance certifications, including HIPAA compliance. AWS’ shared responsibility model means the organization doesn't have to manage or maintain these security standards on its own. For instance, the organization no longer has to deal with the underlying infrastructure’s HIPAA compliance. This setup not only enhances the security posture of the healthcare organization but also simplifies its compliance efforts, allowing it to focus more on patient care and less on navigating the complexities of cybersecurity compliance.

How MFTaaS reduces cost

Current MFT solutions already help businesses reduce costs in a number of ways. One is by consolidating file transfer and file sharing workflows into a single solution. Without an MFT solution, businesses that transact with multiple trading partners often have to deal with multiple file transfer protocols. For example, one trading partner may require FTP, while another may require SFTP. Yet another may require AS2, and so on and so forth.

And so, to support all these trading partners, some businesses are forced to deploy multiple file transfer servers, each running a different file transfer protocol. A managed file transfer solution already supports multiple protocols, so you just have to deploy, manage and maintain a single solution.

MFTaaS reduces costs even further by eliminating upfront costs and replacing them with flexible pay-as-you-go pricing. You no longer have to purchase hypervisors, physical servers, network equipment, security cameras, etc. MFTaaS also allows you to considerably reduce  administrative overhead and tech support costs. These cost savings, especially in the form of capital expenditure (CAPEX), can free up your cash flow, allowing you to redirect financial resources to other projects.

Sample scenario showing how MFTaaS reduces cost

Imagine a global manufacturing company that partners with hundreds of suppliers and customers around the world. Traditional file transfer methods required the company to maintain multiple systems for different types of data exchanges, including purchase orders, design documents and invoices. Also, since different suppliers and customers use different file transfer protocols such as FTP, SFTP, AS2 and OFTP, the company was forced to build and maintain a complex web of systems, each needing its own maintenance, security measures and operational oversight.

By adopting MFTaaS, the company was able to consolidate all these disparate systems into one unified solution that supports all the necessary protocols, including AS2 and OFTP, for secure EDI transactions. This transition simplified the management of file transfers, making it more streamlined and efficient. The need for multiple licenses and hardware for different protocols was eliminated, significantly reducing capital and operational expenditures.

Additionally, with MFTaaS, the company greatly simplified its data security and compliance efforts since the MFTaaS provider already met compliance requirements for the underlying infrastructure. The result was a marked reduction in costs and complexity, alongside improved operational efficiency and security.

Final words

MFTaaS is transforming the way businesses conduct secure, automated file transfers by infusing MFT technology with cloud computing capabilities. This results in significantly improved efficiency, security and cost savings.

Should you wish to leap MFTaaS, we invite you to check out JSCAPE MFTaaS. JSCAPE MFTaaS supports a wide range of file transfer protocols and an extensive selection of enterprise-grade security features. It enables automation through a low-code/no-code interface and integrates with several network and cloud-based services through various connectors and a REST API. Hosted on AWS, JSCAPE MFTaaS inherits the security and compliance controls of the world’s leading public cloud provider.


Schedule a JSCAPE MFTaaS demo now.