The Pros and Cons of Open Source Managed File Transfer Software

Nowadays with how much sensitive data is needing to be shuffled around between businesses, it’s coming to the time for many companies to implement a managed file transfer (MFT) solution. Regardless if there are new compliance requirements that have to be met or new relationships with third parties and customers that requires advanced data exchange, the option of open source managed file transfer software is likely to arise.

Many businesses currently utilize open source solutions for many everyday needs, but what are the actual pros and cons of this approach? We decided to dig deeper into the question. Here is what we found.

The Pros

  1. It’s free

It’s no secret that IT projects can get expensive quickly so FREE can be a compelling bonus. The price tag – or lack thereof – for any open source solution is typically the main reason IT teams consider them as often as they do. If your MFT software needs are smaller in scope, short term, or you don’t have any compliance requirements at play, a free open source MFT solution could be a viable option.

  1. It has decent functionality

Compared to commercial options, open source MFT solutions aren’t likely to be equipped with the exact equivalent of functionality as commercial alternatives, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t deliver most of what you may need.

  1. Support and development are community-based

If a solution is used by a large group of companies, then there could be enough of a user community to find the answers to questions you may have on an on-going basis. Some of the main open-source options available on the web today offer fee-based consulting and support packages.

  1. You can tailor the solution to your unique needs

The beauty of open source solutions is that product roadmap and copyright issues don’t have to be a source of worry. If you have a large internal technical and/or developmental team, you can push the functionality of your chosen open source solution forward in a way that meets your unique needs.


The Cons

  1. Effective (or free) support isn’t guaranteed

Although the software itself is free, there are costs that manifest in other ways. Consider the possibility that you may run into issues down the line, but you will not have a technical customer support rep available to help. If a user community exists, they may also not have an answer for you either. The options that offer support for this service are not going to offer it free of charge, and the cost you pay could end up as expensive as a full-featured MFT solution. Doing your homework to dig out hidden fees is important with free solutions.

  1. Setting up and maintaining is time consuming

Depending on the level of maturity of the open source solution, you could run face first into bugs or issues that could potentially thwart productivity. It’s important to realize taking bandwidth from an IT team with not much to spare could be risky.

  1. Potentially is less feature-rich

Even if an open source solution is called MFT, it will lack some of the key capabilities of a true MFT solution. Commercial MFT options have dedicated development teams whose sole purpose is to continue making them better with the input of customers and ongoing industry best practices.

  1. You could outgrow it quickly

While you may find that open source MFT options can handle your simple ad-hoc file transfer needs, it may not be able to accommodate business growth or increased complexity in your requirements. If you begin to see an increase in daily file transfer needs, it won’t be long until your ability to complete them effectively decreases substantially. This can put your users in a bind.

  1. Security/audibility features are likely lacking

Security is of critical importance in today’s IT-centric environment. If you must show compliance with any governmental or industry regulations, a proven Managed File Transfer solution can be a great help with its detailed logging and advanced security protocols.

  1. It could disappear

Open source software can be unpredictable when you least expect it. If you’re relying on a free version from a company that gets acquired, they can always shift their focus to paid software instead. Or perhaps the developer who started the free project decides to no longer continue the effort. Your open source MFT application could be nixed at any time.


How to Decide between Open Source and Commercial MFT?

Open source managed file transfer software has its perks, but overall it’s not right for every need.

The first step in figuring out how to move forward is to develop your own individual business case. Doing this will enable you to pinpoint your exact needs in greater detail. Then, evaluate both the free and paid options against your criteria. This should make your decision clear.


Get the Managed File Transfer Buyer’s Guide!Whether you go open source or not, our buyer’s guide for secure managed file transfer software gives you a comprehensive, vendor-agnostic look at all the factors to consider.

June 4, 2019

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