When it comes to pumping files through corporate networks or the public Internet, the constant cry of business and consumers alike has been for more speed. This lament pervades all discussion about bandwidth, networks, routers, and increasingly, the software stacks on top of them.
Traditionally, businesses have resorted to WAN compression and TCP tuning tactics to extract more out of their oversubscribed network investments, but in the process, have also learnt the limitations of the underlying transport protocols, especially when the networks become lossy (ever attempted large uploads or downloads over wireless links such as WiFi or 3G?), or when the distances become too great for TCP’s flow control algorithms to work efficiently. Distance, as you may have deduced, refers in this case to high latency and long round-trip times in the network, and not geographical distance necessarily.
This lies at the core of the question of how best to fill one’s proverbial pipe. The TCP transport protocol is designed to scale its sending rate according to prevalent network conditions, in order to drive the available bandwidth efficiently, while at the same time to guarantee delivery of the payload and assemble the pieces in the correct order at the receiving end. This mechanism, however, is well known to break down quite spectacularly when the endpoints are far removed from each other (in latency terms), or when there is even moderate packet loss.
Unfortunately, such is the nature of modern networks and global business communication – we have high bandwidth links that span the globe, but we are unable to attain the transfer rates offered by the raw link capacity, on account of limitations in the transport protocols.
The trouble, you see, is that the total throughput is composed not only of your digital assets traversing the wire. There is also a substantial amount of signalling and control traffic that TCP uses to maintain data flow. Let’s call these two aspects of your throughput “goodput” and “badput”, where “goodput” is your data in the payload, and “badput” is all the signalling, flow control and integrity mechanisms in TCP. In networks with high latency and even moderate amounts of loss, the “badput” increases exponentially, and the “goodput” decreases accordingly, which results in your link being driven to the maximum, but very little of the data flowing consists of useful, successfully delivered payload, and your data delivery times become longer and longer until eventually, it reaches infinity – manifested as stalled or failed transfers. If you’ve ever wondered why your 10Mbit/s link only yields a 1Mbit/s FTP transfer at full tap and often times out before completing, there’s your answer.
Moving the world’s data at maximum speed – this is the simple maxim that drives Aspera’s unwavering mission to create the next-generation software technologies to move data securely and at the maximum rate offered by the underlying network infrastructure, regardless of distance, network conditions or file specifications. In comparative tests, Aspera’s patented fasp transport protocol consistently tops throughput tests, and securely, reliably and predictably delivers files to their destination at wire speed.
“The use cases are nearly limitless,” says Breakpoint’s Robert Upton. “Imagine if you could guarantee the arrival time of a large file to any endpoint in your network, instead of having to add all sorts of disclaimers to your estimate about the network holding up, or no other concurrent transfers interfering with yours. Businesses want that predictability and reliability, and besides, in many cases the transfer is over 10 times faster than traditional file transfer mechanisms.”
Breakpoint’s decision to deliver Aspera’s next-generation file transfer technologies to the South African market came after careful internal evaluation and benchmarking, as well as thorough review of the security model of the platform. “We are so confident in the technology’s ability to deliver on its bold claims that we’re offering a try-before-you-buy option, giving customers a risk-free opportunity to evaluate the solution in their own environments. It’s very easy to deploy, and doesn’t require any special hardware or extraordinary network modifications. We foresee strong demand in the rest of the African continent as well, in areas often served by satellite and other types of heavily contended bandwidth.”
Aspera’s fasp transport protocol, which underpins its suite of full-featured file transfer products, apparently solves the inherent problems of TCP transport in the network. How does it work? “It works exceedingly well,” says Deon Erasmus, technical specialist at Breakpoint. “By eliminating TCP from the transport stream entirely, Aspera developed innovative integrity and flow control mechanisms that allow the data to be transferred over UDP at line speed over the entire path, while maintaining integrity and fair play with other services on the wire. This is what led to Aspera receiving an engineering award at the 65th Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards.” The 65th Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards ceremony was held on 23 October at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Other prestigious recipients of Engineering Emmys include YouTube, iZotope, Digital Dailies, and Lightcraft Technology.
“We are grateful to the Academy and our forward-looking customers and partners in the digital media industry, who have helped drive the development and maturation of our core technology, and we are tremendously honoured to have received this award,” said Michelle Munson, Aspera CEO and co-founder. “Innovation is core to our being here at Aspera and we will continue to invest ourselves and partner with our customers to create fundamental solutions that advance all aspects of digital data movement.”
Aspera and Breakpoint invite you to visit us at booth 20 at the 2013 AfricaCom exhibition, to be held at the CTICC in Cape Town, 12-14 November. We’ll be in attendance to showcase this exciting technology and address any questions you may have.
For a free exhibition pass, go to http://africa.comworldseries.com. For full conference attendees, Per Hansen, Aspera Technical Specialist, will present: “Bridging on-premises and cloud deployments for broadcast IT” on Tuesday 12 November at 12:10pm. We look forward to welcoming you at AfricaCom, and hope to provide you with new and improved pipe-stuffing techniques for smoking file transfers.