With the range of options from vendors also comes a variety of different ways these systems are architected on the back end. Some are policy-based with email platforms, such as Microsoft Outlook: Any file transfer more than 1MB or 2MB can be automatically processed by the MFT, for example, helping to take the strain off of email servers. Others are completely manual or automated processes where users manually select which transfers would be handled by the MFT. Or, automatic processes can be put in place for application-to-application transfers, to machine-to-machine, all done through the MFT.
Customers typically begin looking at MFTs when their email servers begin getting overcrowded, or if they have consistent need for large file transfers. "If an organization sending a 2MB newsletter to 10,000 people, that's pumping a lot of information through your network," says Michael Osterman, an independent researcher in the messaging and collaboration space. Instead, with an MFT, that same organization can upload one copy to an MFT server and send 10,000 much smaller emails that contain a link where users can access the content on the MFT server. All of the sudden the bandwidth consumption of those 10,000 newsletter readers is not happening all at once, but is spread out across a longer period of time, taking strain off the network.
Yates, the Forrester researcher, says IT shops have a variety of tools at their disposal, including MFT, traditional email and next-generation collaboration tools, like Salesforce's Chatter, Jive or Microsoft's Yammer. The key, he says, is for CIOs to study what users are already doing, and then either try to create policies for managing that, or give workers an alternative. "It's the CIO's job to put the right solution in place," Yates says. "It's about finding the right infrastructure to all workers to be the mobile and connected users they need to be."