rsync may work for some, but not for M&E

By Michael Darer | Apr 16, 2020

As Signiant Jet continues to debut exciting new capabilities, more and more media organizations recognize the need for alternatives to legacy tools such as rsync, which just aren’t cut out for today’s challenges. While rsync has impressive longevity and continues to be widely used across IT organizations, as files get larger, supply chains become more complex, and the need for swift and simple deployment increases, tools like rsync can be highly problematic for  media businesses.

What makes rsync a problem in media

In a recent guide, we catalogued exactly what makes rsync a poor choice  for the modern media landscape, and the results are worth considering. Despite a well-deserved reputation as a helpful tool for certain industries, rsync simply doesn’t meet the needs of M&E, especially when it comes to speed, ease-of-use, and visibility.

The most obvious issue is that rsync simply cannot handle the large files that are currently the industry standard. Recall that rsync was designed back in the mid-90s (more than 20 years ago!) without file acceleration technology. Because of this, moving large video files over long distances or congested networks takes far longer than necessary in the modern age. That deficiency alone can cost hours, or even days, depending on the file sizes and network conditions, and this is simply unfeasible for organizations that are working under tight deadlines with a host of essential partners — so, most M&E organizations. While this may not be a problem for a company that’s primarily using the solution to transfer documents or spreadsheets, a business like a film studio needs a tool that can comfortably move content many magnitudes larger.

The issue of speed is quickly compounded by a host of additional pitfalls, a major one being how unfriendly rsync is to anyone who’s not an expert. Incredibly techy and complex, rsync can often feel downright hostile to non-coders. Perhaps the most worrying issue for media organizations, though, is that rsync’s unnecessary abundance of complexity is balanced out by a distinct lack of visibility, reporting, and alerts. The massive file transfers that media enterprises need to regularly undertake are immensely sensitive, and often vital to business continuity. The content being moved is not only the primary value of the business, but is also vulnerable to the designs of hackers who want to leak highly anticipated games, films, and shows. As such, being able to monitor the movement of content is crucial for both productivity and security. Unfortunately, if you use rsync, you will rarely ever be able to pinpoint exactly where files are, how efficiently a transfer is actually progressing, or even if something has gone awry. While other tools let you “set it and forget it” rsync’s inability to provide critical alerts when errors occur means that, if you aren’t there when something goes wrong, you might not figure it out for quite some time.

Media organizations need tools that meet their unique needs

When investing in the tools they’re going to be using to undertake massive, system-to-system, file transfers on a regular basis, M&E businesses should recognize the stakes of these operations and how instrumental they are to basic success in the industry. Certainly, rsync has helped a great number of businesses in the twenty-plus years it’s been used, but for the media industry — especially as files grow, security risks increase, and collaboration plays a larger and larger role — rsync simply cannot meet the unique challenges that define day-to-day activities.

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