Yates calls this the "anytime, anywhere" worker. Forty percent of information workers, he says, use three or more devices for work, while more than one-third of workers already use consumer-focused cloud applications, such as Dropbox, Box or iCloud. These trends are not slowing down; they're accelerating, and MFTs are seen as one way of helping to manage the flow of large amounts of data across these devices.
Vendors are looking to step in and take advantage. Gartner analyst Huang says the industry is dominated by big-name players. IBM's Sterling is seen as the market leader on the enterprise side, Huang says, with other players like Tibco, Axway, Seeburger, Informatica, Software AG and Citrix ShareFile in the mix.
And there is the crop of smaller and mid-tier players, many of which in recent weeks have amended their products. Examples of these companies include, but are not limited to, YouSendIt, Ipswitch, Globalscape, CodeTwo and Kitepoint -- a new product from Accellion being released this week.
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What's the biggest difference among these providers? Generally, smaller providers may have a cheaper sticker price for services, with more basic features and functionality, says Huang. Larger vendors generally have more holistic approaches with additional bolt-on features that can be integrated into the systems, bringing packages into the seven-figure range, Huang says. With those added features comes added complexity, plus longer sales and deployment process. Mid-tier and smaller vendors may have fewer moving parts and a more logical and faster installation.
IBM's Sterling MFT, for example, ties in enterprise resource planning (ERP), and business process management (BPM) features as well, helping businesses automate and streamline operations leading up to the actual transfer of files in the MFT system.
Most on-premise, behind-the-firewall MFT systems run on traditional hardware and do not require dedicated infrastructure, but they do require high-memory servers, usually with high processing power since they are designed to handle large quantities of data transfer, along with features functions such as compression and encryption. Some vendors, like Ipswitch, have servers specifically designed for on-premise MFTs. Huang recommends using a dynamic storage array that has the ability to expand and contrast based on needs of specific file transfers, as well as having real-time backups or replications.