The World is Getting Faster – FTP is not

posted in: Acceleration

Just finished reading a post at GigaOm regarding gigabit fibre in the UK.

Of course, being in the business that we’re in, I immediately thought: if businesses of all sizes, and even homes end up with 300Mbps connections (or faster), what are all these people going to be doing to transfer their large files? Home users and those who don’t know there are options are still going to be using FTP, and wondering why their file is taking so long to send. Typically, even with a good connection, FTP (or any transfer based on TCP) is going to start performing poorly at a measly 10Mbps. Under near-perfect conditions, a single-threaded FTP transfer is likely to reach 70Mbps tops. And when you’re transferring from one part of the world to another, you do not have near-perfect conditions.

Multi-threaded TCP (a technique FileCatalyst itself uses for certain scenarios) can help, but at the cost of resources. It doesn’t take long for multiple TCP threads to slow down even a modern machine.

Even if we forget about reliability (FTP having a poor track record is already a good reason to switch to something else) and other file transfer must-haves for a second, and we’re right on the cusp of every file transfer process in the world needing something better. UDP-based file transfer like that offered by FileCatalyst and a handful of other companies will be the best alternative.

At Gbps+ speeds, there’s another bottleneck: I/O (how fast your network and storage can read or write), but that’s a conversation for another day.

Suffice it to say, when it becomes apparent to the world at large (people other than enterprises that have already switched) that FTP is just not working or is highly ineffecient, well-engineered UDP-based file transfer has already been created and is just waiting for the call.