The Paradox of Choice – the best Managed File Transfer solution?



We all know the feeling – you are shopping, maybe for some food. You have a vague idea of what you want until you are confronted by reality – dozens or even hundreds of different options. Which is better for you? Which will better meet your needs? It becomes harder to make a choice if there are too many choices. When I am out for dinner at a restaurant I suffer much the same dilemma. I love Cherry Pie for dessert, but what about the refreshing creaminess of Ice Cream? It might seem a simple choice but it would be easier to make a decision if the menu was more restricted.  


This was explored in a very interesting book by Barry Schwartz called ‘The Paradox of Choice – why more is less’. I highly recommend a read of it.

This applies quite widely in other areas. Take for example how you want to deal with files in your business. Let’s face it; you have files, filled with business critical data, on every system in your enterprise. And you need to move the files, or at least the data inside them, across your enterprise to consume the data elsewhere. So you plan to move them, only this creates your first dilemma – should you use simple FTP even though you know it can be unreliable and insecure, and you never really know what happens to your files. Or should you use a managed file transfer solution?

Well hopefully, your business cares about the files and the data enough to look at a managed file transfer solution. After all you don’t want to create a management and security headache when trying to move the files, and you certainly don’t want to troubleshoot what has gone wrong every day, and maintain hundreds of FTP scripts.

So you want a managed file transfer solution – but which one? This opens up a whole different solution set. Do you want a bespoke solution, dedicated to file transfers, or one that is maybe multi-tasking – perhaps a function built out from another piece of infrastructure that might be more adaptable for some of your use cases, even though the dedicated solution looks good for other use cases?

Many customers today might look at their existing solution providers such as IBM who has been providing middleware for this type of solution for many years. And here there has been a choice to be made:

IBM Sterling Connect:Direct, a market leading managed file transfer solution with years of expertise as a dedicated offering in this space, with a secure protocol and purpose built tooling to provide all a business needs when moving files, extended with IBM Sterling Control Center for event based monitoring of file transfers. Looks good for a dedicated solution.

IBM MQ Managed File Transfer, an extension to the widely used IBM MQ messaging middleware offering. This also provides file transfer, moving the files as messages over MQ, but also allows not just file to file transfer but also file-to-message and message-to-file transfers which can help the business make faster use of the data being moved. A highly adaptable solution, but also supported by IBM Sterling Control Center as a management and monitoring dashboard.

So even from IBM you would need to make a choice, even though you could probably adapt both offerings to meet your needs. But it would be nice to not have to choose, but to use whichever offering was best for any particular use case.

On March 11th 2014, IBM announced that it was solving this dilemma of too much choice by combining the two offerings of IBM Sterling Connect:Direct and IBM MQ MFT, and also including IBM Sterling Control Center. Now there is just one solution to buy for Managed File Transfer. And when you buy it you don’t have to choose which to use, as you get entitlement to both offerings included, as well as Control Center. No more choosing between Cherry Pie or Ice Cream, as you can have both.


A smaller number of choices in this case is definitely better. You can read more about this offering in the announcement letter here. Dig in.


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