MFT Resource Center

MFT Software Basics

Are you looking to securely move files? MFT software may be a strong solution for you.

MFT is the secure, centralized transfer of company files, documents, and data. It encompasses all aspects of inbound and outbound file transfers, while enhancing security with industry-standard network & encryption protocols, digital certificates & signatures, non-repudiation, and other security features.

Here is a full breakdown on MFT

In this article, we give you a crash course on MFT software and key considerations as you select your MFT solution.

What is MFT Software?

MFT Software is a unified suite of solutions used to send and receive files across the organization, between applications and to & from trading partners (e.g. two supply chain partners sending and receiving purchase orders and invoices).

MFT solutions centralize, streamline and secure file sharing for organizations and teams, eliminating duplicate one-off file transfer tools, such as unsecured, ad hoc FTP clients.

Why Organizations Must Replace Outdated Ad Hoc File Transfer with MFT Software

Traditionally, organizations handled file transfers with one-off file transfer tools, such as clients for FTP, HTTP, and other legacy file transfer solutions. There are several problems with using this approach.


FTP clients and other ad hoc file expose the enterprise to serious risks for security breach.

Duplication and Fragmentation Waste Time & Money

Ad hoc file transfer processes waste IT resources' time on maintenance and burn holes through budgets. Duplication creates complexity and tangled processes for all involved.

Broken Processes

Ad hoc file transfer solutions are ill-equipped to deal with the enterprise data sources, applications, and systems in the modern enterprise ecosystem. As a result, the file transfer processes themselves can break, often leaving mission-critical data stranded and inaccessible to the people and teams who need it.

Not Built for Large Files and High-Speed

Data and file sizes are growing, and so is the need for high-speed processes reliant on real-time data. Many ad hoc clients are simply not equipped for these file transfers; MFT is built for them.

Ad Hoc Solutions Lack Visibility

With a collection of duplicated, unconnected one-off tools, organizations lack visibility into where data is, who has access to it, where it's going, and which processes are truly starved for data. This poor visibility clouds the picture of what contributes to costs, delays, and quality issues, throwing wrenches into continuous improvement initiatives.

Key Capabilities of MFT Software

As you begin your search for a unified MFT software solution, you'll need to think not only about replacing poor-performing solutions, but about the kind of complete setup and processes you want to create. An MFT solution should be able to transfer file you need moved, secure your data, and help you facilitate smarter, more efficient processes, while offering visibility.

A quality MFT solution comes with some key core functionalities you'll want to look for, including the following.

1. Broad Protocols Coverage

MFT Software provides coverage for all major protocols, such as:

  • AS2
  • AS4
  • FTP/S
  • OFTP(2)
  • SFTP
  • SCP
  • And More!

This broad protocols coverage means you'll be able to send & receive files with partners and internally between teams using the specific process that's called for - no need to manage seven different tools just because partners use different protocols, a common, and quite expensive problem.

2. High-Performance & Reliability

MFT Software supports high transaction volumes and supports the transfer of massive messages - Very Large Messages (VLMs) - via streaming over HTTP-based protocols, such as AS2. This core MFT functionality is more comprehensive and powerful than most ad hoc file transfer tools, so you can securely and reliably share even the largest critical business documents, such as inventory information, product catalogs, document libraries, even high-definition videos.

In addition, MFT solutions come with enhanced reliability features, such that if a giant file transfer is interrupted, it will automatically resume, without you having to start over. For transfers over FTP and SFTP, when you use HTTP streaming, you send messages in chunks, and if the message fails, the MFT tool uses caching to restart the transfer at the exact point where it was interrupted. This saves time and eliminates duplicate transactions, which could slow down your systems and even cause security issues.

3. Data Connectors for Back-End Integration

For MFT to break down silos and facilitate the connected enterprise, your unified MFT solution must act as a bridge and easily interface with your core systems, such as :

  • Applications
  • IT components
  • Communications channels for notifications
  • Data storage services - e.g. data warehouses and data lakes
  • And other systems

This connectivity should be delivered intuitively, through data connectors that allow you to directly integrate MFT with your IT infrastructure.

4. Modern, API-Driven Architecture to Support Automation

One of the biggest elements of modern MFT is an API-driven architecture that supports microservices. Essentially, a modern MFT tool allows you to access specific functions and features as components, available at your convenience, to enable specific processes in a flexible way.

Learn more here

These API-driven microservices can help you in many practical ways:

  • Define and schedule automated file transfer workflows
  • Create multi-step automations and tie them into pre & post-transfer events
  • Act efficiently on triggered events wherever they occur (A2A & B2B)

5. Extensibility for Developers

Another key element of MFT is extensibility through a built-in, REST-based developer API. A good MFT solution will allow your developers to extend the tool to deliver additional functionalities and efficiently handle more use cases. Developers should be enabled to:

  • Onboard new connections programmatically
  • Create scripted management workflows
  • Leverage individual MFT features from inside other apps
  • Easily build infrastructure that's easy to develop, test, maintain, and scale
  • Gain secure, real-time access to siloed data stored in a custom database, legacy applications, or even program files, such as Excel

This powerful weapon, extensibility through a developer API and scripting, is simply not available in the majority of ad hoc file transfer tools.

6. Enterprise-Grade Security

MFT solutions provide the vital security features to reduce your risk so you can reduce the danger of data breaches and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and more. These include:

  • Client/Server Authentication: Ensure only the right parties send & receive messages with authentication capabilities, such as digital signatures, hashing - SHA-2, and integration for authentication against LDAP, Active Directory, and others
  • Certificate Management: Follow industry-standard verification methods using Digital Certificates - MFT solutions offer this through the ability to create & manage Open PGP keys, SSH keys, and other certificates
  • Encryption: MFT must secure data at rest or in motion with the latest encryption algorithms, such as 3DES and AES, in the event a message is intercepted, it won't be accessible to unauthorized parties
  • Secure Access: TLS should secure access to the MFT solution, and API access should also be secured through user-generated authtokens
  • Backup: MFT must also support backup and editing for configuration files, so you never lose your core data!

7. Scalability & Flexibility

As your organization grows, or you incorporate more file transfer needs into standardized MFT processes, it's crucial your MFT solution scales with you.

There should be compatibility with any system disk and server you select and you have to load balanced and high availability setup. Another key element is flexible deployment across different environments, such as on-premise on Windows machines and Apple, Linux, or Unix systems, as well as in the cloud and in hybrid cloud environments.

Certain organizations may also prefer to run MFT through existing IT infrastructures, such as right in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and in containers running on platforms like Docker.

8. Ease of Use

One of the most important keys to ensuring a solution is actually adopted is its ease of use. Select an MFT platform that provides low-code and no-code access via a visual interface (UI), such as a drag-and-drop workflow builder. And check if a tool has easy-to-use templates or pre-packaged integrations to link the back-end systems you use.

9. Governance, Logging, and Auditing

Audit trails and logs are necessary to ensure regulatory compliance and SLAs, reduce risk and simplify troubleshooting. Select a unified MFT solution that provides real-time, actionable insights on data transmission usage and trends.

To deliver these benefits, your solution must be able to complete several actions, such as:

  • Provide audit trails for all interactions
  • Track a message's location when errors arise
  • Support advanced search for configuration and troubleshooting

The solution must actively monitor for files received & ones to send, deliver non-repudiation with MDNs available for every transaction, and provide data connectors to reporting platforms.

Modern MFT vs. Legacy Ad Hoc File Transfer Systems

As organizations grow and pursue digital transformation, they require file transfer solutions that enable them to modernize and automate their processes. They need to connect their data, partners, internal teams and systems. And they must ensure the absolute highest standard of security throughout their organizations.

The reality? Ad hoc file transfer solutions and FTP clients just don't cut it anymore. They unsecure, break processes, error-riddled, and expensive, not only in direct costs, but also in the toll the exert on already overloaded IT teams. In short, they're a problem - not a solution.

CData Arc MFT: a Unified Solution for Innovating Companies

Arc is a robust MFT solution built to simplify MFT & more. With all the capabilities of a modern, blazing-fast file transfer solution and the innovative automation it supports, Arc MFT will help you slash costs, secure processes, and centralize & streamline your tools.