A lot of posts have been written about why FTP is not a good solution for a lot of the use cases for which FTP is used. This blog post gives a good summary of why FTP is outdated.
So why is it that, even though businesses have the first-hand experience of why FTP is not a suitable solution, do they continue to use FTP today? The reason is that the alternatives to FTP have only solved one aspect of the FTP workflow, which is, unironically, the file transport portion. What they have not addressed is the file transport workflow. Although solutions such as Aspera, Signiant, or File Catalyst exist today, they are geared towards enterprise-sized organizations leaving SMBs priced out of those solutions.
What is file transport today? File transport is about moving files from your file store to someone else’s file store for the purposes of file distribution or collaboration. Even though there are file sharing and file hosting services available today, they are not effective at handling file transport for businesses that either have a lot of little files, some very big files, or even worse, a lot of very big files. The task overhead is compounded when internet connections are slow or of lower quality. Users that handle transporting many large files are tasked with one very important requirement: files must arrive in a timely manner and in their entirety.
In order to ensure that files arrive in their entirety, the File Transport workflow requires the following steps:
Most file transport solutions including point-to-point UDP file dumps or cloud-based file-sharing / file-hosting solutions handle only step 2 and step 5 without handling the most time-consuming part of that process: babysitting the transfer. It’s no surprise that many SMBs continue to use FTP. With replacement solutions, the users still have to verify that file transports are completed in their entirety and they have to monitor those uploads or downloads because any interruptions will only delay the arrival of the files. It’s the worst of both worlds.
Examining the workflow from end-to-end reveals that by improving the process for the users outside of the transfer portion improves productivity for users much more with the benefits from implementing alternatives to FTP an add-on rather than a necessity.
Cache and Sync is the process of storing information locally for faster access and unifying information so that it’s available everywhere.
The cache and Sync process utilizes a CacheDrive (Cache) and the Morro Sync Engine with Global File System (Sync) to improve the transport process for the senders and recipients. CacheDrives are deployed on the local network and appear as local storage drives. The drive letter interface for PC or the mounted drive interface for Mac and Linux means that senders can simply drag and drop their files into a predefined share. Once the file is copied, the CacheDrive transfers the file to the cloud and the Sync Engine transfers the file to the CacheDrive which appears as a local storage drive on the target network. Recipients can then simply copy the files from their network folder to the location they need to use the files.
Since the system must perform checks to ensure files are transported correctly and controlling both points of the transfer means knowing when files have completed their journey accurately. Using Cache and Sync, the File Transfer workflow for the sender and recipient becomes:
7. Sender saves files over the LAN.
8. Recipient accesses files over the LAN when alerted that transfer is completed.
A six-step process is reduced to two. Users no longer need to babysit their ends of the process and files are checked by the systems to ensure transfer is complete and accurate. Transport speeds are near the maximum possible (you can still use those accelerators to improve Internet transfer speeds). By taking the user out of most of the workflow steps, productivity increases even with the natural bottlenecks that exist in today’s internet infrastructure. FTP is a productivity sink because of the way it’s designed to work. SMBs use complex workflows to accommodate the limitations of FTP. Selecting tools that improve workflow is an investment that pays back again and again.