FileCatalyst for Massive, Rapid File Transfer
In a post-Interop-related briefing, I spent an hour with Chris Bailey, the co-founder and CEO of Unlimi-tech, the Canadian file transfer specialists. This company was founded by a pair of Canadian federal government developers in 2000 as a hobby to accelerate TCP-based file transmissions. What they started with was mechanism to integrate FTP applet into a clients' website as a plugin.
But the big idea behind the venture is the FileCatalyst product, which uses UDP to transfer data. You might recall that the very common FTP relies on the error protection features of the Transmission Control Protocol. Together, it is a connection-oriented protocol that includes congestion-avoidance strategies such as window sizing limitations, checksum for error correction and the assumption that if acknowledgement isn't received in the determined timeframe from the receiver, it must have been discarded along the way and the data is retransmitted.
FileCatalyst is different. It uses the connectionless User Datagram Protocol instead of TCP. This approach supports the same errorchecking mechanism that TCP does, but enables other transmission strategies to improve the rate of transmission. There's no reliability built in, no throttling features that assume congestion, and dynamic retransmission of missing packets.
Clearly, the humble file transfer protocol was engineered in a day when packet errors and low bandwidth circuits were the norm. Today, this is increasingly not the case, so the standard protocol introduces delays while the endpoint waits to receive the acknowledgment, or worse, retransmits data that it mistaken assumes was discarded. In the modern Internet environment, this is not a fair assumption. Broadband, wicked fast and low bit error rates are increasingly the norm.
Actual results are often distance dependent (propagation delays tend to exacerbate the TCP problem), making UDP and FileCatalyst look great on the satellite link Antarctica – Denver file transfer, delivering massive files in half or one-third the time using FTP. AES adds the required privacy for Internet-based enterprise file transfers.
With 10 employees, well known channel partners and over 600 customers, Unlimi-tech is well positioned to accelerate its' growth as well. The model of unlimited client rights (clients require a Java 1.4+ virtual machine and are supported on Windows, Mac OS, Solaris, Linux) with license fees on a per server basis (2nd+ year maintenance is 20%/year), is easily understood by the purchaser. Key markets addressed are military, government, pharmaceutical, entertainment, media, engineering and mining companies where gobs of data are often transmitted from remote locations over satellite or other delay-intensive circuits.
Chris explains that the company also has 2 Formula 1 racing teams as customers. They transmit vehicle telemetry data to their base of operations in the UK for real-time processing and advice on engine tuning dynamics.
Which perhaps explains why Unlimi-tech makes cars and file transfers go vroooom!
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