Managed file transfer (MFT) pricing can be confusing, especially if your company hasn’t evaluated MFT alternatives in decades. To simplify your search, it’s important to understand cloud and on-premises MFT pricing models, additional costs and vendor offerings.
Cloud MFT Pricing
Cloud MFT is a software-as-a-service (SaaS), meaning that the vendor:
- Maintains and manages the cloud infrastructure
- Ensures high availability and disaster recovery
- Provides 24/7/365 support
You pay for everything on a subscription basis. Most agreements bill you annually based on monthly usage. There are two main cloud MFT pricing models: pay-as-you-go and tiered.
What determines the price? With cloud MFT, you typically pay for data transmitted. Vendors may use other variables to determine price, including feature bundles, interfaces or endpoints.
Pay-as-you-go pricing means you don’t commit to a contract, but instead pay for usage each month. The usage metric could be files transferred or bandwidth. Bandwidth is the total data sent, and it’s calculated as the number of files multiplied by the average file size. For example, if 100 files are transferred each month and each file is 1MB, the total data transmitted will be 100MB.
The bottom line: If flexibility is the most important to you, this might be perfect. Just be careful with how much you spend. It might be better in the long run to sign a multi-year agreement.
With tiered pricing, you commit to a contract and are put in a pricing tier based on predicted data transmission volumes. The vendor will reserve that capacity for you.
If you go above your typical usage level, the cloud accommodates the demand easily. However, you’ll likely receive overage fees or opt to upgrade.
The bottom line: If you know your use cases and have a plan to control usage, go with tiered pricing. If not, figure out your key use cases and look at other pricing models.
Cloud versus On-Premises MFT Cost
|Cloud MFT Cost||On-Premises MFT Cost|
|Based on a periodic operating expense||Based on a capital, or one-time, expense|
|Vendor manages scaling and maintenance||Your team purchases, sets up and maintains servers|
|Vendor handles security, high availability and disaster recovery||Your team buys and manages additional antivirus and encryption software. Your team also ensures high availability and disaster recovery|
|No physical space to pay for||Your company pays for the physical space, A/C, etc.|
Because on-premises MFT is a big one-time cost with smaller annual maintenance fees, it can seem like a great deal. However, you should consider the post-purchase costs. It can take 6-8 hours to set up a new server.1 Your team will also have to set strict security policies, ensure high availability and make a disaster recovery plan.
If you have an on-premises IT infrastructure in place, ask your admins:
- How long does it take to set up a server?
- How much time do you spend maintaining other servers?
- How do you ensure server security? What is our disaster recovery plan?
Their answers will help you understand whether cloud or on-premises MFT is more feasible.
On-Premises MFT Pricing
As mentioned above, on-premises MFT pricing is often based on a one-time perpetual license cost and annual maintenance fees. This one-time cost could take these factors into consideration:2
- The number of servers you want to deploy on
To guarantee high availability and disaster recovery, you will need to pay for and maintain additional servers.
- The number of partners
- The number of agents
- The number of domains
By paying annual maintenance fees, you are entitled to support and future upgrades.
|If the price has multiple factors, the price is more customized. The one-time cost could be less than a monthly subscription cost over 3, 5 or 10 years.||If demand for file transfers increases quickly, you might face more costs than you expected. You are also paying for additional servers you don’t use often, or at all.|
The bottom line: Clarify what happens if you scale up quickly. Try to negotiate a lower cost-per-partner or cost-per-server as you scale.
User-based pricing is based on how many user logins your company has. You’ll need to pay for servers you need and some extras to fall back on.
|Great for smaller businesses or less complicated use cases.||Less cost-effective for enterprises. If users don’t adopt it, you pay for them anyway. You pay for capacity you aren’t using.|
The bottom line: Find the ideal user number – not so many that some don’t use it, but not so little that it makes processes inefficient. Ask vendors for a team- or company-wide trial period to see how many employees use it.
Additional Cloud MFT Costs
Once you know the baseline cost of cloud MFT for your company, it’s time to consider the additional costs.
Deployment and Migration
The initial costs for cloud MFT deployment and migration depend on several factors. These include:
- Cloud Instance
Public cloud instances can be provisioned faster and managed by the vendor, so they are typically less expensive.
Private cloud instances are more time-consuming to deploy. Your company may be expected to manage the private cloud, which will increase the strain on your IT team.
- Training and onboarding
Before you complete the switch to a new MFT solution, your team will need training to understand and use the interface.
Here are some factors that influence onboarding costs:
- Number of employees being trained
- Length of training
- Cost of travel for on-site training
- Complexity of migration and setup time
These factors are highly use-case and buyer-dependent. To understand how much migration would cost, ask your IT team to estimate how many servers and file transfer connections would need to be moved over.
If you want files to be stored after delivery, you’ll pay for cloud storage. This cost could be affected by:
- What countries you’re present in
- How many copies you need
- How much you’re storing3
Support and Maintenance
For some MFT vendors, 24/7/365 support is included with every contract. Others come with a basic level of support and require you to pay extra for emergency support.
According to Pro2col, an MFT consultancy, “Support contracts are typically 20-30% of the license cost per year.”4 Keep in mind that this percentage is an estimate and may not apply to every case.
Total MFT Cost
The total cost of MFT (cloud or on-premises) can vary widely, depending on which solution you choose and your use cases.
A simple automation solution could start at around 3000 British pounds, or $4,100 USD, according to Pro2col.5 More advanced solutions fall into the 10-50,000-pound range, or $13,000-$68,000 USD.
With that much on the line, you should investigate a variety of vendors to find the best option.
Before reading this information, please note that we aren’t affiliated with GoAnywhere, Globalscape, Axway or Progress in any way.
|Vendor||Deployment Type||Pricing Model|
|Axway||On-Premises, Cloud Hosted and Cloud Service||Unknown|
|Globalscape||On-Premises and Cloud||Features are bundled into Core, Basic, Pro and Custom bundles6|
|GoAnywhere||On-Premises, Cloud and Hybrid||Features are bundled into Getting Started, Specialized and Comprehensive bundles7|
|Progress||On-Premises and Cloud||Unknown|
|Thru||Cloud||Primarily based on file transfer volume, among other factors. Learn more about Thru’s pricing|
Cloud MFT Price Negotiation
As clear-cut as it sounds, the term “best price” for MFT is somewhat subjective. You could prioritize the best price in total or the best price per unit (user, transfer, etc.)
According to one of our account managers, “The way to get the best price per unit is to sign up for a multiyear agreement and pay for the full term in advance.”
To get the best total price, you should prepay a multi-year contract in advance and pick the right tier for your company. Avoid overage fees as much as possible by making a detailed usage policy and checking transfer volume every month.
Always negotiate with the vendor to see what they are and aren’t willing to compromise on. Negotiation points could include:
- Monthly or annual billing amount
- Billing manner and frequency
- Subscription duration
- Support and training costs
- Renewal procedure
The total price of cloud MFT can be difficult to grasp since it’s strongly vendor and use-case dependent. We hope this helped you understand what pricing models are out there, their pros and cons and what you should negotiate about.
Since more than 50% of all systems integration is still accomplished through file transfer, your MFT choice will have a long-lasting impact. Make sure it’s the right kind of impact.