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New Cars and Faster Horses

One of the go-to examples we point to here at Signiant when we talk about antiquated technology is a saying attributed to Henry Ford:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

He, of course, meant that consumers couldn’t even conceive of a solution like an automobile to solve their slow transportation problem – they could only imagine the improvements that could be made to their current four-legged system.

When we quote Mr. Ford, the improvements in our scenario are the customized scripts, software add-ons, ad hoc scripts, expensive high-bandwidth networks, new servers, and other quick fixes that enterprises tack on to that 45-year-old horse, the FTP file transfer protocol. They simply won’t give companies the boost they need.

No matter how much money companies have invested in pieced-together solutions to enhance it, FTP is becoming more and more outdated, difficult to update, and expensive to support – and businesses are realizing it’s time to move on.

But there’s a flip side to that previous investment: it’s been going on for so long that FTP is fully entrenched – people get so used to it that it’s really hard to just flip a switch and make the transition, even if what’s holding them back is something more nostalgic than practical. After all, an early complaint of holdouts resisting the move from horses to cars was that a car couldn’t jump a fence. As a hobby farmer with four horses, I can relate. (And they’re better company, too.)

Ford’s legacy of rendering equine transportation obsolete is, as they say, history. But what if he’d found a way to bridge the transition for those not quite ready for the open road? In effect, to produce a faster horse, which is what the people wanted? Perhaps it would have had no impact on his success, but it would have made a large swath of the general population more comfortable with the switch.

They could have shared the road without being intimidated by motorists, allowed their fellow travelers to move freely without being impeded by slow traffic, and improved their daily lives by getting somewhere faster.

At Signiant, we’re in the business of innovating entirely new data transport solutions – improvements to traditional file transfers at speeds that people using FTP can’t even conceive of.

We didn’t just look at FTP and say “how can we make FTP faster?” – just like Henry Ford didn’t look at horses and try to fuel them with higher octane hay. We took a whole new approach to dealing with each element of the transfer anatomy – transmission control, communication and overhead reduction.

But unlike Mr. Ford, we have found a way to help people ease their transition from FTP into up to 200x faster transfer speeds, huge file sizes, secure data movement, and reliable delivery and still keep their previous investments intact.

With our FTP augmentation features, we can help businesses take advantage of all of Media Shuttle’s capabilities, while keeping their FTP server deployed – its storage intact, its familiar folder hierarchy visible to users, and its user administration fully flexible for every user and directory.

We recently released two new Media Shuttle features that facilitate this for end users and admins, as well as for the IT experts who set up FTP.

The first is linked folder support. Previously, like FTP, Media Shuttle share portals allowed admins to easily assign a single “home” folder to a user. Now, Media Shuttle enables you to very easily assign multiple folders (and subfolders) with different access rights – all without getting too complex for non-technical people to administer.

The second is an update to our Administration API. The Administration API is a REST interface that enables IT to mimic the FTP virtual server setup, by automating portal creation and user rights management. If your current customer or partner onboarding process includes setting up FTP servers for file-sharing, you can replace that process seamlessly (and get radically faster file transfers) by setting up faster, cleaner and more secure Media Shuttle share portals.

This means companies that don’t want to be left behind (but still have their own, fence-jumping reasons to want to keep FTP around a while longer) can have the best of both worlds: a “faster horse” with Media Shuttle as the more secure, reliable, friendly and high-speed interface to your existing setup, and a brand new, accelerated file transfer engine as the driving force behind it all.

Now all I really want is a horse that administers itself. But, until that time comes, I guess I’ll continue to feed and clean up after them myself.