BMC Control-M Managed File Transfer Review

Good alerting features send out immediate alerts when there is a problem


What is our primary use case?

I'm a Control-M analyst and we use the product for a data warehouse, for secure bank payments, banking applications, an externally accessed economics database, database housekeeping and various housekeeping tasks. We use it across Windows and Unix in lots of different areas where we need to coordinate the platforms, and also areas where the jobs that are running are critical so that if there's a problem we can know if they're not running correctly.

How has it helped my organization?

MFT takes a lot of activity and gives us a central point of control. You can do a lot of these activities without Control-M, using bespoke scripts, but the overhead is huge and simple changes become a nightmare. Control-M gives us a standardized solution.

What is most valuable?

The product works very well with the modules. For example, if you have  MFT, Managed File Transfer, or the old AFT, you can link that to processing jobs. You can use other modules as well and sort of control them for SAP or various other products. The alerting is very good, so you can send out SMS messages or emails to people if there's a problem overnight and they get an immediate alert. It has many, many features and is also very flexible. If a user came along and said, "I don't want to use it the way you're doing it, I want to do something completely different," that would be possible as there are many different options of ways to use the product.

What needs improvement?

The structure between the Control-M/Server and Control-M/Agent could possibly be improved. It would also be helpful if the deployment of Control-M/Agent could be simplified. Sometimes you can spend a lot of your day just doing the maintenance work to keep the system running. So that's something that could be improved. I think they could also improve the basic engineering of the server. The product has been around for a long time now, it's 30 years old, so most of the big issues were fixed a long time ago. Any issues now are not serious. The API that they recently introduced is very good and lots of people are using that. It's really about development for the future, which means improving the API. 

I would go back to the API in terms of additional features, in that they should expand the possibilities of the API. Not everything is possible with the API, and you've got utilities in all the controlling systems that are very powerful, but they're not all opened up to the API yet. I think they should really just expand the API to catch up with the rest of the system. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this product for about 20 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution, you very rarely get any serious outages. That's something they have improved a lot. Obviously it depends on the way people implement it. If the Control-M Server keeps falling over then that is obviously a problem but it will be an issue with the underlying platform itself, not Control-M. They have improved high availability now as part of Control-M, out of the box (if installed within certain parameters) so stability can be very good. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The product is scalable. The licensing can be an issue, some people have licenses based on the number of agents. If that's what you have then that can be a barrier to the scalability. I know sites that are running maybe a million jobs per day, even more than that, and they don't report any problems. So yes, it is very good.

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't often have to refer to the technical support because I know the product very well myself. Where I am located, they send us to Italy for support and Italian support is sometimes not so good. In general, there is a very good knowledge base on the product, and you can usually find your problem inside the BMC system or even on the website. So actually opening a ticket is almost a last resort option. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used Cron and Windows Task Scheduler, i.e. the platform supplied solution. They are not the same as using a dedicated scheduler but they don't pretend to be.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very straightforward now, that's something they have improved. The installation is much better now and it's fairly simple. Basically you can download setup files and have the basic server installation done within maybe two hours. But if you want to use it correctly, the configuration is what takes you a long time and they should probably improve the documentation that they provide for administrators on that side. They have various programs where you can go and sign up as a new user, it's called the AMIGO program, and they will help you. They team you up with an existing user from another company and you can get advice with any problems you might be having. 

What about the implementation team?

We used in-house expertise.

What was our ROI?

The product paid for its initial cost within 6 months of purchase and repays its annual license fee within 8 weeks.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Sign up for BMC Software's AMIGO program (help for new installs and migrations) and go for the license where based on number of total tasks.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we tested $Universe, Tivoli Workload Scheduler and the solution from Tidal Software.

What other advice do I have?

The work is really on the configuration side. Installation is not a problem these days. Push it out as much as possible, to have a dedicated team and to decide that you're going to investigate enterprise completely and figure out where the automation will pay the quickest dividends because the return on investment is very quick on these kinds of products. Once you start to use them and you realize how useful they are, then you really make a big difference to the company and it can save a lot of money for many large organizations. Obviously there will be some situations where it doesn't make sense to use it because you're happy with your setup. But there are numerous elements of the business that would benefit that you might just have to get out to your users and ask how you can help improve the way day-to-day work is dealt with.

I would rate this product a nine out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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