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From FTP to Couriers, the Ad Hoc Reality for Media Companies Today

By Meg Cater | Oct 23, 2014

There are many options available for moving small files over the Internet. However, there are few solutions that can handle the massive files common in the media industry. Sharing these large assets requires a different set of capabilities to ensure speed, security, and control. Many media firms still rely on a mix of ad hoc solutions, such as shipping hard drives, courier services and non-secure or outdated file sharing software.

For example, FTP is very commonly employed because it supports the transfer of large files. Yet, this 40+ year-old technology is slow, unreliable, and lacking in basic functionality, requiring scripts written on top of the protocol or the purchase of additional applications to meet business needs — from file management and email notifications to security. And even the purchase of additional bandwidth won’t help the crawling speed of FTP trying to send large files. It all gets cumbersome and is very difficult to scale, update and keep track of. Ultimately, this gum and glue approach to file transfer hinders their ability to work efficiently and grow their business.

As video technology evolves and the trend towards increasing file size from better graphics, special effects, and higher resolution continues, companies that can handle any file size will be in a position to work on the most successful and exciting projects. A large file transfer solution with built in acceleration allows companies to keep tight deadlines with reliable professionalism.

In essence, every media firm needs an easy-to-use file transfer solution that provides the necessary acceleration, security, and central management to be competitive in today’s global media production industry. And with the scalable pricing model of cloud-based software, that opportunity is now affordable for any size company.

Signiant’s hybrid SaaS file sharing solution: Media Shuttle

At Signiant, we’ve embraced cloud software development including our hybrid SaaS (Software as a Service) large file transport solution, Media Shuttle. While there is other software out there that accelerates the movement of large media files, ours is the only true cloud-formed solution. To quote perhaps the best known cloud pioneer that brought enterprise-grade software to the masses, Salesforce says on their website,  “As cloud computing grows in popularity, thousands of companies are simply rebranding their non-cloud products and services as ‘cloud computing.’ Always dig deeper when evaluating cloud offerings.” Hear, hear. 

While Signiant is a cloud pioneer, we’ve also been providing software for media professionals long before the cloud rose to dominance. Today, most of the world’s mission-critical media workflows are still powered by Signiant Managers+Agents, our enterprise-grade system-to-system large file transfer solutions, including Disney and BBC. Our customers have helped us understand the particular needs of media professionals, allowing us to develop Emmy award-winning software. Media Shuttle builds on those core mechanics, while leveraging the advantages of cloud computing — essentially offering the best of both worlds. Some of the key advantages of Media Shuttle are: 

Ease of Use 

Transferring large files to multiple partners across the globe is a difficult proposition with many variables. To help ensure success, it is important that your file transfer solution is easy to use for the people that need to send content on a regular basis. Most on-premises file transfer solutions necessitate up front training and frequent IT involvement. Media Shuttle’s intuitive interface requires zero training. Even your grandfather could figure it out, though he might get distracted by the graphically enticing web portals and an overwhelming sense of progenaic pride; Media Shuttle’s file transfer portals are brandable and customizable for different languages, making your business look sharp and professional to your clients, partners, and grandpa.

Acceleration 

Signiant works with many companies that need to move large content files across the globe, but run up against the pain of bandwidth latency. Our patent and patent pending acceleration technology enable file movement at maximum speeds over any Internet protocol network, regardless of latency. To illustrate the point, we recently had a customer, Post Office Films, working on a Hungarian-Swiss-German coproduction that ran into technical problems right before they were to submit a film to The 2014 Cannes International Film Festival. Just a few days before the festival, they realized the enormous film file needed corrections made by various people around the world or it would miss the deadline and the screening. Fortunately, Media Shuttle allowed the team to quickly send their large movie file as a single unit, multiple times, between multiple locations. “Without Media Shuttle,” P.O. Films editor David Jancso said, “it would have been impossible to make the last-minute changes to White God days before Cannes. It saved their lives and the début.” And, without Media Shuttle, they wouldn’t have won a top Cannes award.

Enterprise Security

Media and entertainment firms move petabytes of high-value digital content every day. This content is one of the most important assets to a media business and, as such, security is paramount in a file transfer solution. Not only do files need encryption while being transferred, a system should also provide insights into user activity, file access and movement, and storage. FTP and hard disks provide limited security while consumer sharing services often lack enterprise security features like Active Directory integration and segregated storage. Given the importance of the content, media firms need a file transfer solution that has enterprise-level security protocols. 

Central Management

Media firms have a unique workflow that can involve multiple people and partners changing during a project. Managing access to files throughout a project lifecycle can be difficult. It is important to control and monitor who has access to your files and where the content is being moved, so you can make certain the project is completed on time and the files are secure. It is also important for IT to know who is accessing the files and how the transfer of these large files will impact the network. Any file transfer solution should provide a central control mechanism allowing IT to monitor users and bandwidth, and view file movement data reports. Without features to easily manage the flow of people in and out of the project, the chances for mistakes increases along with the potential for security breaches and lost files. Media Shuttle’s central control acts as a unified IT dashboard, giving you visibility into everything that’s happening with your files.

In the past, only the largest media companies could afford elegant and powerful solutions

While it is evident that all media firms need a robust and flexible file transfer solution, it has not been possible for smaller and medium sized companies to purchase an enterprise-grade solution. In the past, installing a complete file transfer solution involved a complicated and expensive on-premises implementation that only firms with large budgets and multiple data centers could accomplish. However, the introduction of cloud-based solutions like Media Shuttle means that any sized firm can now access the benefits of enterprise-level file transfer software.

Whether you are a two-person special effects post house or a large cable network, Media Shuttle will scale to fit your needs. Try a free trial of Media Shuttle, or contact us so we can talk about how Signiant software can help your business.

ProfDEH – Original photograph