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The Need for Speed Series Part 3: Media Shuttle – Signiant’s Answer to Today’s Need for Speed

Media Shuttle – Signiant’s Answer to Today’s Need for Speed

Speed is in Signiant’s DNA. Our proprietary file transfer acceleration technology—capable of moving files up to 200 times faster than TCP-based alternatives (such as FTP and HTTP)—is at the core of our on-premises and SaaS solutions. Signiant software helps most of the world’s top content creators and distributors ensure fast and secure delivery of large files over public and private IP networks.

Media Shuttle—our cloud-native SaaS solution for quickly and securely transferring any size file anywhere in the world—is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable way for users to send and share large files. Used by hundreds of thousands of media professionals around the world, and by businesses large and small, Media Shuttle is the de facto standard for person-initiated transfer of large files.

Every month, Media Shuttle customers collectively move the equivalent of half a million one-hour shows in HD from Netflix. We’re talking over 1.5 petabytes of data.

Accelerated file transfers is only part of Media Shuttle’s appeal to customers. Designed from the ground up to easily deploy, maintain, and use, the solution supports the need for operational speed in the following ways:

  • Speed of file delivery. Signiant’s file acceleration technology, relative to TCP-based mechanisms, moves files even faster as file sizes, distances, and bandwidth all increase (check out our File Transfer Calculator to see how much faster). So no matter how large your files, how far you are sending them, or over what type of network, Media Shuttle will always provide quicker delivery.
  • Speed of provisioning. As a subscription-based SaaS solution, Media Shuttle is quick and easy to buy. Deployment is just as simple. Most customers are up and running within days after purchase. The web-based user interfaces, file transfer logistics, client updates, usage data collection, and email notifications are always delivered as a SaaS from servers hosted and managed by Signiant in the cloud.
  • Speed of updates. As a multi-tenant cloud-native solution, updates for most of the software components are automated and applied centrally and transparently for all customers with no downtime needed. Customers always have the latest release of the software.
  • Speed of management. Managing Media Shuttle is simple, thanks to its role-based access model in which technical staff are able to delegate administration of non-technical aspects of the web-based portals to media operations and project managers. This removes operational bottlenecks by avoiding the need to involve busy technical staff in tasks such as branding portals, adding users, or changing access rights.
  • Speed to the cloud. Media Shuttle customers are always able to rapidly take advantage of cloud storage and services where appropriate, or keep content on-premises when not. Storage “independence”—the freedom to use the most appropriate storage for content—is a key principle within Media Shuttle. Not only can customers choose between on-premises or cloud storage (Amazon Web Service S3 and Azure Blob storage currently supported), they are also free to choose different types of storage for different portals, all within a single subscription. Switching between storage types—including between cloud platforms—is as simple as reconfiguring where the individual portals “point to” for the content.
  • Speed to end-user adoption. Ease of use is crucial to achieving operational speed. We’ve designed Media Shuttle’s intuitive web-based interfaces to keep complexity to a minimum. The drag-and-drop operations and clutter free layout make it so easy that most new users never require any training at all. Within minutes, they can simply start sending, sharing, and receiving files using Media Shuttle’s built-in acceleration to speed delivery.
  • Speed to adapt to changing workflows. New format and content types, new tools, new distribution platforms, and new partners or customers inevitably lead to requirements for changed or completely new media workflows. With legacy fixed systems, such changes—even seemingly trivial ones—could create major challenges for the technical teams and vendors responsible for supporting the new requirements.

With Media Shuttle, incorporating new or changed workflows is simple, thanks to three different types of web portals. Each portal type presents end users with a slightly different web interface optimized to support the standard modalities by which businesses need to move their content between people:

  • Send portals allow for the rapid sending of files between people.
  • Share portals make it easy for multiple users to upload and download files within designated folders.
  • Submit portals provide an onramp for users to submit files into automated workflows.

Collectively, the three portal types can support virtually any standard media use case, including project collaboration, review and approval, delivery of assets along a process or supply chain, content aggregation, distribution of the same content to multiple end points, exchange of new work orders, and finished deliverables between customers and service providers.

  • Speed to scale. One of the biggest challenges with many legacy on-premises systems is scalability. For this reason, many media businesses built out their core infrastructure, often at great expense, so that it was large enough to support peak anticipated future load. However, this frequently resulted in costly low utilization. Cloud services address scaling issues and underutilization.

As a multi-tenant cloud-native SaaS solution, Media Shuttle fully leverages the elasticity of public cloud platforms. Customers can instantly add users anywhere in the world, and for cloud storage deployments the cloud VMs and associated software are provided by Signiant on an auto-scaling basis. Even very rapid changes in data load can be seamlessly supported by automatically spinning up more cloud resources as load increases, and then releasing them as soon as deman drops.

For customers with portals using on-premises storage, there is the option, at no extra charge, to download and install additional server instances attached to their storage to handle higher volume of transfers.

  • Speed to expanding solution reach. Once operational staff has been given administrative control over a particular portal, they can easily add and remove users while assigning appropriate access. Signiant sells subscriptions as floating licenses based on the number of “active users” (defined as someone who sends at least one file, or receives three or more files, in a given month). So portals can have as many members as the customer wants, and the simplest way to expand access to content is to add more users to a portal.

But media businesses often need to send, receive, or exchange specific subsets of content with other businesses, partners, customers, or suppliers. For these situations, it’s often better to have dedicated portals used only for these projects or relationships. Media Shuttle makes it quick and easy to create additional portals that are accessible only to the parties involved in the exchange of that specific content. Moreover, portals can be branded with customer or project-related images and logos. Customizing the look and feel of portals is just as fast and requires no technical expertise. As part of the base subscription, customers can create as many portals (of all types) as they want.

A final way in which Media Shuttle supports rapid expansion of reach is by enabling customers to add new storage locations—whether in the cloud or in remote offices in other parts of the world. To do this, all the customer needs to do is add a new cloud tenancy and configure Media Shuttle to use that for one or more new portals. If using on-premises storage, the customer simply needs to download and install additional Media Shuttle software on a server adjacent to that storage. Again, the process is quick and easy, and there are no extra charges.

  • Speed through automation. Reducing labor-intensive tasks through automation has become a key method to increasing operational speed and lowering costs. Media Shuttle offers advanced capabilities to help automate repetitive tasks:
    • Auto Delivery enables users to configure specific folders for unattended upload or download, thereby eliminating the need to manually check for new content or streamlining distribution of the same content to multiple partners.
    • CloudSpeX validates file format compliance prior to delivery, thereby lowering rejection rates associated with the receipt of improperly formatted files or incorrect file types. CloudSpeX matches file types and metadata against a cloud-based directory of published specifications to ensure that digital assets comply with customer-defined delivery format requirements. This patented technology saves significant time and resources and helps to manage the volume and complexity of today’s multiplatform delivery specifications.
    • Metadata entry allows end users to populate predefined fields with information describing the file they are about to share. The experience is fully customizable, offering system administrators the ability to define fields for any parameter to ensure that all of the necessary information is captured. The metadata remains associated with the file, making it easy for a person or process to take action upon receipt.
    • SAML-based web SSO enables enterprises to easily and securely onboard and manage large numbers of users. Enabling the use of a corporate directory for user authentication has benefits for both administrators and end users. Administrators can easily provision large user groups, and individual employees can simply log into Media Shuttle with their corporate account credentials.
    • Media Shuttle provides two APIs for customers who want to implement automated computer control of certain Media Shuttle functions. The administration API enables automation of repetitive tasks like portal creation, storage assignment, and user creation. A second API for ‘system to person’ automation enables the creation of simple, automated ‘click here to download’ workflows from their in-house and commercial DAM and MAM systems.

“Turn on a dime” with Media Shuttle

Speed takes many forms. At Signiant, our ability to accelerate the transfer of large files over IP networks is core to all our products. But for our M&E customers, the ability to “turn on a dime” covers many other aspects of their overall media operations. Speed, in all its aspects, is always on our minds as we innovate and enhance our products so that they address as many of these needs for operational speed as possible.

This is the third article in our three-part “need for speed” series. Be sure to check out the other two or download the full series PDF version:

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