Laura Loredo, Worldwide Marketing Product Manager, HPE Enterprise Servers Storage & Networking
Carlos Castro, Program Manager, Storage Products for Data Protection, IBM
Terry Cochran, Marketing Communications Manager, Quantum Communications
Tim Jones, President/CTO, TOLIS Group
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Phil Storey, Co-founder & CEO, XenData, Inc.
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz we are looking at backups, archiving, LTO tape and media. Files are exploding in size and quantity, which we need to preserve for increasingly longer periods of time. Tonight, we figure out how.
Larry Jordan: We start with Philip Hodgetts, the CEO of Intelligent Assistance who sets the scene by explaining key concepts in how we preserve our media and the increasing importance of metadata and machine learning in helping us to find our files.
Larry Jordan: LTO tape technology is developed by a consortium of three companies, HPE, IBM and Quantum. Tonight, we talk with representatives from all three to learn more about what LTO is, what it does, how much it costs and how we can best use it.
Larry Jordan: Dr Phil Storey is the CEO of XenData. Just last week they announced Cloud File Gateway. This new software connects end data archiving software with object oriented cloud storage. Tonight, Phil explains why this is important, and necessary.
Larry Jordan: John Tkaczewski is the co-founder and president of File Catalyst. They specialize in high speed worldwide file transfers for media companies. This technology is increasingly important as post production and visual effects for a single film are handled by multiple companies around the world.
Larry Jordan: Tim Jones is the president and chief technical officer of Tolis Group. They’re a company that specializes in software for backups and archiving to tape. Tim explains the practical side of archiving from organizing files to issues with LTFS in both Mac and Windows, and what you need to know to backup or achieve your projects successfully.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with our weekly DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts – production – filmmakers – post production – and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world.
Larry Jordan: Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. Today we’re talking about archiving and the media that makes it possible, LTO tape and cloud based systems. Yesterday I spoke at the Creative Storage Conference on the challenges that media creators face in preserving their assets for the long term. Unlike major studios or corporations, we don’t have full time IT staff or large ongoing budgets, yet with each project we create tens of thousands of files recording terabytes of storage that we maintain for decades. It’s an impossible situation.
Larry Jordan: Tonight we want to look at some of the storage options available to us. Options that don’t require huge budgets but give us some assurance that our files will last long into the future. It’s a complex subject, especially as companies push us to migrate our files to the Cloud. Storage may not be the sexiest part of media creation, but nothing is worse than losing your data. We’ll be covering this subject regularly in the future.
Larry Jordan: By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue gives you an inside look at The Buzz, quick links to the different segments on the show, and curated articles of interest to filmmakers. Best of all, it’s free every Friday.
Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a DoddleNEW update, with James DeRuvo. Hello James.
James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: So what have we got this week?
James DeRuvo: Well, DJI announced yet another game changing drone. It’s called the Spark, it’s about the size of a can of 12 ounce soda, so it’ll fit in your backpack or pocketbook. It can record in 1080p, but the really cool thing about it is that you can completely control it with hand gestures at a distance for ten feet, or you can control it by your mobile phone app at 100 feet or an optional controller at up to a mile. It has numerous smart modes including orbit, drone selfie, rocket, where it’s pointing down and rises up so you get that feeling like you’re taking off like a rocket, or a special Helix spiral type of orbit. It has follow me, it’s DJI’s smartest drone yet, and it’s designed to be so easy that if you have no experience whatsoever you can fly it. At under $500, the Spark is just another game changing drone that will offer capturing that Kodak moment for a bird’s eye view Larry.
Larry Jordan: The size of a can of soda? James, I’ll buy you a six pack. What else you got?
James DeRuvo: Well at $500 that’s $3,000. Sling Studio announced today their new wireless TV broadcast studio in the box. It’s by DISH, it’s called Sling Studio, and for $1,000 you can connect wirelessly to up to ten different cameras, smart phones or tablets through an ad hoc wifi network. You don’t even need to have internet access and you can stream 1080p, 60p video to either Facebook Live or YouTube with a four hour battery life, and a distance of up to 300 feet. Using an iPad, you can control titles, transitions, add music, lower thirds, and even do archival copying by an optional USB-C external device. As we saw at NAB last month, just about everyone is getting into the live streaming video game, so it makes sense that DISH would join the party, but I have a hunch with their enormous back end network, they also mean to lead it Larry.
Larry Jordan: This is a very interesting development. So what have we got for number three?
James DeRuvo: This coming week is Cine Gear at Paramount Studios, June 1st to the 4th, among 100 or so distributors, RED is going to be the main hub, having forsaken NAB for a more local concept, which makes sense because they are literally right across the street from Paramount Studio. To that end, they’re going to be hosting panels with filmmakers to explore production trends, and hands on demonstrations with all the camera platforms. Other major exhibitors are going to be there including Sigma that’s going to be showing off their entire arthouse and fine lens line, and of course there’s Cine Gear’s annual film competition and festival.
James DeRuvo: Jarred Land took to Facebook and explained that with NAB it was basically derailing them for three months out of the year just to go to NAB when they could spend literally a day or two at Cine Gear and talk to everybody they really want to talk to and actually have fun doing it. So this could be a game changing year for Cine Gear with RED being out there.
Larry Jordan: I’ve always liked Cine Gear. It’s human scale, it’s got every possible production toy you would ever want to play with, it’s a wonderful show. James, for people that want more information about these and other pieces of news, where can they on the web?
James DeRuvo: All these stories and more can be found at Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo is the senior writer for DoddleNEWS and returns each week with a DoddleNEWS update, and James next week we’re devoting the entire show to streaming, so it’s going to be a fun show to talk about. We’ll talk to you soon, and see you next week.
James DeRuvo: Alright, talk to you.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to. Doddlenews.com. DoddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platforms specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in depth organizational tools for busy production professionals. DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts Community, a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography to filmmaking, performing arts to fine arts, and everything in between, Thalo is filled with resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go. Doddlenews.com.
Larry Jordan: Philip Hodgetts is a technologist and the CEO of both Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System. Even better, he’s a regular here on the Buzz. Hello Philip, welcome back.
Philip Hodgetts: Hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: Philip, tonight we’re talking about media archiving and LTO storage, and I couldn’t think of a better person to talk to than yourself, to help us set the scene and explain some of the differences between backups and archiving and define some terms. So what is the difference between backups and archiving?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, backup, like it implies, is a backup copy of your media. Usually I think we tend to have that nearby during the production space of a show but having just one copy isn’t a backup, so you have to have two copies or more, or three or four copies, preferably in different geographic locations in order to have any form of backup. But I do associate that mostly with the production phase. Whereas archiving is where you would want to keep the work that you’ve done for long term storage. Of course your archive should have a backup. Generally speaking, backups are on SSD or spinning disks, usually in a RAID configuration. Archiving could be on a set of drives, or more commonly, it’s on LTO tape which is a linear tape, backup storage. It’s ironic that we have gone from tape to digital, to tape to backup the digital.
Larry Jordan: So it sounds like backups need to be almost on the same type of gear that we’re using for our editing? Whereas archives can be on gear which may take longer to access, true?
Philip Hodgetts: That’s certainly true. The demand for backup would be instantaneous. Something … primary storage, you really want to be able to access that backup as quickly as possible so that you can be back up and running and continue production. Whereas archiving is assumed the main work is finished, it’s maybe a year or two later and you want to revisit something for a new version, a new distribution channel, and so you’ll go to the archive, and certainly LTO tape, while with LCFS the file formatting, it appears as a drive, it is very slow compared with any sort of drive.
Larry Jordan: I was talking with Sam Bogoch, the CEO of Axle Media Management at the Creative Storage Conference yesterday, and he told me that when Axle was released in 2012, they were delighted that it tracked up to 30,000 assets. Their newest version, which they released at NAB this year, now supports over two million assets. How do we manage all the files that a typical media project creates?
Philip Hodgetts: You might guess my answer would include metadata. But in fact, that is exactly what an asset management is doing, it’s tracking all the metadata for an asset. That’s why I said management tools like … Axle and … are all very important because the file system for LTO does give a unique ID to every asset … two assets with the same name, without being asset management level above it to get confused.
Larry Jordan: Philip, I don’t know about you but I do not want to type metadata for two million assets, so what can we do about this?
Philip Hodgetts: Hopefully the metadata would flow into the asset management system from the production. Many metadata that you enter in production should flow into the asset management system and be available, so obviously … metadata but any logging you’ve done, any keywords you’ve applied, UCG information is also valuable metadata. But the reality is, if you’ve got too many assets … metadata, then up until very recently you would have to send it through mechanical … to small amounts of money, break it down that way. Certainly … have done that with the Johnny Carson shows and other transcript work that they’ve done adding metadata. They had their own version of mechanical … but mostly these days we can use machine learning to examine the assets and extract the metadata automatically. Certainly for large repositories in an asset management system … or large repositories without management data, it’s probably the only way forward.
Larry Jordan: We’re going to learn a whole lot more about all of these issues on today’s show, but for people that want to keep track of the stuff you’re doing, where can they go on the web?
Philip Hodgetts: Philiphodgetts.com is my primary playground. I also have intelligentassistance.com, metadataguru.com or lumberjacksystems.com. I’m everywhere.
Larry Jordan: That’s philiphodgetts.com and Philip, thanks for joining us today. We’ll talk to you soon.
Philip Hodgetts: My pleasure, thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: LTO is run by a consortium of three companies, Quantum, IBM and HPE. These three firms set the strategic direction for this technology which is then manufactured by IBM and HPE. Today we’re joined by Laura Loredo. She’s the marketing product manager for worldwide LTO tape marketing, located at the HPE storage development lab in Bristol in the UK. Laura joined HPE in 1995 and has worked in the R&D engineering group on the development of LTO technology since its conception. She is now responsible for LTO technology worldwide for HPE.
Larry Jordan: Joining Laura is Terry Cochran, the marketing communications manager for Quantum Corporation. Terry has 14 years experience in storage with a broad background in marketing technology across a variety of segments. Terry is based in Quantum’s Irvine, California office.
Larry Jordan: Our third guest is Carlos Sandoval Castro, he is the program manager for storage products for IBM. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, electronics and automotive sectors, Carlos has a manufacturing skill about him, and he’s based in Mexico.
Larry Jordan: Hello everybody, welcome. Glad to have you with us. Terry, I have to ask, it’s the thing that puzzles me the most, why does it take three companies to create LTO technology?
Terry Cochran: The reason that the LTO consortium was set up is that LTO itself stands for Linear Tape-Open, and the whole intent behind the development of the technology was to really have an open platform. So in support of that, we felt it was important that having that open technology having three different consortium members would really help to drive that open standard in the market. Instead of just being a single company, it’s much more effective for an open technology to be managed by a consortium.
Larry Jordan: Terry, I just want to follow up. What does open mean to you?
Terry Cochran: There’s no proprietary technology, the open platform really allows not only the consortium members but all of our licensees to really share the platform and make it widely available across the market.
Larry Jordan: Laura, to someone that doesn’t really understand what LTO is, how would you describe it?
Laura Loredo: LTO is made up of HPE, IBM and Quantum. The three companies make the specifications of the format, and we also publish the future roadmap. It’s an open format, so anybody can license it and make LTO products. These then get certified, and we make sure all the companies comply with the format, and so they get branded logo. This certification means that the products are tested for compatibility between vendors then customers can rely on buying products from any vendor and everything is compatible and will work together. LTO technology started in 2000 when we launched the first generation and we’re currently in generation seven of the technology. This doesn’t mean the previous generations are obsolete, there are vendors still manufacturing LTO-6, LTO-5, four, and even three drive today. In each generation we improve on capacity and transfer rates over the previous generation and go back compatible to generation to read and one generation to write. For example, for the current generation seven, it has a capacity of six terabytes native per cartridge, a transfer rate of 300 megabytes per second, and an LTO-7 drive can read LTO-6 and five cartridges as well as write LTO-6 cartridges. Also, with each generation, we have been adding features to the technology. We added WORM (write once ready many). We also added encryption at power level, and since generation five, we are supporting the linear tape file system, LTFS. This makes a cartridge self describing and is easier to use with its drag and drop functionality. Same way as you would use a hard drive or a stick, so it makes tape easier to use than ever before really.
Larry Jordan: Carlos, I was under the impression that LTO drives were only manufactured by IBM and HPE. Laura’s describing a system of licensing. Are the actual drive mechanisms made by more companies?
Carlos Sandoval Castro: In the latest generation IBM is the only manufacturer on the previous one, six and earlier, we still also that HPE and IBM.
Larry Jordan: For LTO-7, IBM’s doing the manufacture?
Laura Loredo: The mechanisms yes, the different generations were made from Quantum, HPE, IBM and then you find integrators, so we’re talking about the drive mechanisms, but these go into libraries as well.
Larry Jordan: It’s like a hard disk manufacturer where a limited number of companies make the actual hard disk mechanism, but then it gets integrated into a whole lot of different systems from a wide variety of integrators? Is that similar?
Laura Loredo: Correct.
Larry Jordan: Carlos, thinking of it technically, a lot of independent filmmakers, which are the people that are listening to this interview, independent filmmakers are just simply stacking a hard disk on a shelf and assuming that that’s archiving. What makes recording to LTO tape superior to archiving on a hard disk?
Carlos Sandoval Castro: There are several benefits on storing data on a tape. One is capacity, another aspect is compatibility. You can use devices from different vendors which is an open platform. There is also reliability on the information without the storing tape, and can last up to 30 years, when stored in proper conditions. Also the portability that hard drives initially have moving parts inside that are more sensitive when there is shipping and handling associated with those devices and you don’t have that concern. The most important benefit is the cost per gigabyte. According to our service and the data we have, the cost per gigabyte putting data on a tape is below one cent per gigabyte.
Larry Jordan: Carlos, that’s a true statement, except the LTO drives themselves are multiple times more expensive than a hard disk. What makes the drives so expensive?
Carlos Sandoval Castro: The cost of the drive is just because of what technology is associated on the development and the reliability of the mechanism. It’s not a one to one relationship in terms of a tape drive and a hard drive. You can use multiple tape drives which can be taken to the reader and writer which is what we call the drives.
Larry Jordan: In other words, once we’ve invested in the hardware of a single reader and writer, the drive, then the only additional costs are the cost of the tape, as opposed to having to buy hardware each time with a hard disk. Is that what you’re saying?
Carlos Sandoval Castro: Correct.
Larry Jordan: Terry, last week we were talking with a technologist who was recommending against storing data on LTO tape claiming that the technology was too slow, there was a high risk of losing data due to tape damage and drop outs, and instead he was recommending archiving to the Cloud. How would you respond to him?
Terry Cochran: LTO technology actually is the safest long term way to store your data. There are certainly reasons why somebody would want to save their data to the cloud. There’s certain implementations why that makes sense, but in terms of cost and reliability, really LTO technology is definitely lower in cost and much safer in terms of any damage or errors that can happen to your data over the long term.
Larry Jordan: Laura, independent filmmakers and smaller production houses don’t have the seemingly unlimited budgets of enterprises and large studios. What are some of the economical ways to invest in LTO technology to be able to archive our products?
Laura Loredo: I just want to highlight again the costs of LTO and we have a few TCOs, the total costs of ownership of LTO costed on our website. One study by ESB and another study by … where it shows the cost benefits of tape vs disk and we are talking about the whole system. With that really is that LTO is less expensive and also safer way to keep your archives. LTO is … better reliability than enterprise hard disk drives. So therefore for filmmakers who archive on LTO make sense, from the cost point of view and because it’s the safer way to keep their archives.
Larry Jordan: Carlos, because of the roadmap, we know that about every 18 months, LTO technology is going to change. As Laura explained, the way that it works is the new technology is one version back writeable, and two versions back readable. Which means that after five or seven years, the format that our tapes are stored on is no longer valid because there’s no longer any tapes in the market. I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect, but some period of time between five and ten years after we record them, we’re going to have to invest in new LTO technology in terms of the reader and writer, and transfer all that data, which means now we have to take an active approach in managing our archives. We can’t just simply put the tapes on the shelf and come back to them 30 years later and expect them to work. That’s the background behind the question, which is what is the best practices that we need to follow to preserve our assets for the long term if we want to be able to access movies 30, 50, 70 years in the future?
Carlos Sandoval Castro: One of the considerations is, and I think Laura mentioned this earlier, these generations are a point in time product with a specific capacity and performance specifications. But they are built to last for a long time, so it doesn’t really mean you need to keep migrating your data from one generation to another.
Laura Loredo: If I can carry on on Carlos’ comments. We get this question quite often, and one of the things I mentioned earlier, and I want to again say, is that when a new generation comes out, that doesn’t mean that the older generations get obsolete. So because LTO-7 is out, doesn’t mean that you cannot buy an LTO-6, an LTO-5, even an LTO-4. So if you have your archives in say LTO-4, if that capacity is working for you, you don’t need to go and buy an LTO-7. LTO-4, you can still update your hardware by new LTO-4 drive, and cartridges, and you will carry on working. The difference between an LTO-4 capacity and an LTO-7 capacity is so huge, that people make that move to latest generation because of the savings on managing your data, managing your cartridge.
Larry Jordan: Laura, Carlos has mentioned on several occasions, the LTO roadmap. What is the roadmap, and what does the future hold for us?
Laura Loredo: Well we currently have ten generations in the roadmap showing up to 64 terabytes capacity native for generation ten. We are currently working on extending this roadmap and we will keep you all informed when this becomes available. We are also working on the next release of the technology that will be generation eight which according to the roadmap will be 12 terabytes native.
Larry Jordan: It’s truly impressive how much storage you’re able to fit onto a single tape. I was looking at the roadmap and some of the numbers are just absolutely mind boggling, so congratulations to you and your team for that growth. Terry, I’ve got one more question before we wrap up. Media creators are smaller shops. They’re individuals, they’re companies with four, five employees. They could never afford a library. They can’t afford all the high end bells and whistles behind LTO tape. They just want a bare bones system and they’re only archiving stuff every couple of weeks because they’re not generating that much new content. So what advice would you give them as they’re considering adopting an LTO strategy for archiving for both their projects and their work files? What do they need to consider?
Terry Cochran: The easiest implementation and the easiest way to start adopting LTO technology, especially for the smaller media and entertainment studios or small companies, is just an LTO tape drive that can be plugged in directly to a personal computer. Usually through a SAS connector that connects directly to the LTO tape drive itself. The LTFS, the linear tape file system can just be downloaded as a free download. Really it’s that simple. They can just drag and drop files back and forth between the PC and the tape drive, and very easy to get started with.
Larry Jordan: Just to wrap this up Terry, where can people go on the web to learn more?
Terry Cochran: We actually have our own website. It’s lto.org. It’s a … site, with a lot of information and again, that’s lto.org.
Larry Jordan: Three letters, lto.org. Laura Loredo is the marketing product manager for worldwide LTO tape marketing for HPE. Carlos Sandoval Castro is the program manager for storage products at IBM, and Terry Cochran is the marketing communications manager for Quantum Corporation, and all three of you, thank you so very much for sharing your time.
Larry Jordan: Dr. Philip Storey is a co-founder of XenData which creates software for tape based archiving solutions for media creators. Hello Phil, welcome.
Dr. Phil Storey: Hi there, thank you.
Larry Jordan: I only saw you yesterday at the Creative Storage Conference, so this is feeling like a continual conversation because today we’re talking about archiving, and it seems that there are two basic choices. Archiving locally either to hard disk or tape, or archive to the Cloud. When does it make sense to use the Cloud?
Dr. Phil Storey: In terms of archiving to hard disk, if you’re someone that’s doing that, and you’ve got hard disks on the shelf, or boxes of hard disks, I’d say the Cloud is a very attractive option because hard disks are basically unreliable. You can come back five years after you wrote your contents, and you’ll find the hard drive just doesn’t work. Maybe, maybe it will work. So for people that are archiving, and they want the convenience of just being able to send it to the Cloud, they don’t have to worry about anything physical that they need to be managing.
Dr. Phil Storey: Another case is if you’ve got spinning disk storage as opposed to offline disks, and you’re concerned about backup, and actually if you’ve got several terabytes of content, then backing up can be a difficult process, another approach to get the data protection that you need is to just replicate your content to the Cloud, so you have another copy up there, just for data protection purposes.
Larry Jordan: Well one term I heard a lot yesterday is what’s called object orientated storage. What’s object oriented mean?
Dr. Phil Storey: Well in the context of the Cloud, then the lowest cost way, if you’re going for one of the professional Cloud storage suppliers like Amazon Web Services, S3, like Microsoft Azure, then the lowest cost way to use them is to write in objects. Amazon calls them objects, Microsoft calls them blobs, and it’s not an exact analogy, but it’s equivalent to just the sectors that you write to a spinning disk. It knows nothing about files. You need something to convert from files to these objects which are just blocks of data.
Larry Jordan: That gets me to your newest product which is called Cloud File Gateway. Where does your product fit in both with your history of tape archiving and the new interest in cloud based archiving?
Dr. Phil Storey: We announced the Cloud File Gateway just before NAB, showed at NAB, should be shipping fingers crossed by the end of July. Basically what it does is it’s software that you would install on a Windows machine. It will take control of a local disk volume, and it will connect to the Azure cloud. So we’ve got a strategic relationship with Microsoft so we chose them, and basically it just allows you to send content to this Windows machine, just like writing to disk or restoring from disk, but the content will be written to that local disk volume that we took control of, and also Azure. It’s defined by policies actually as to what’s going to happen to a particular file or content that you put into a particular folder. It could be called hybrid storage actually because it manages local storage and it manages Cloud. So for example you could set the system up so that low res proxies are written to that local disk volume and effectively there’s another copy, a data protection copy up in the Cloud, so a kind of backup. For say high res content, you could store that in the cloud, and you would have a sub-file on the local disk. So when you’re restoring it, it just looks like its sitting there on disk. But in reality, in that particular example, low res proxies backed up but they’ve come off local disk, the high res content would come from the Cloud.
Larry Jordan: Phil, I hate to break it to you but your company got started and built its reputation on tape based archiving. Why are you supporting the Cloud?
Dr. Phil Storey: We’ve got a lot of customers that don’t have the internet bandwidth or they just want to keep everything on premise. They’re very concerned about something going out of their control. So we have one set of customers that actually aren’t really interested in the Cloud but then we have a growing set of customers that want the convenience of Cloud. It means that you don’t have to create tapes perhaps replica tapes, one copy you take off site, because it’s just all taken care of with the Cloud. It allows you to access your content from multiple locations. So it’s got certain advantages, and as I say, a lot of our customers are saying, “Great, we’re happy with what we’ve got. We don’t have the bandwidth anyway to manage our content in the Cloud.” Then we have others that are really interested in the Cloud solution.
Larry Jordan: For people who want to learn more about both XenData and your new product coming in July, which is the Cloud File Gateway, where can they go on the web?
Dr. Phil Storey: We’ve got a new website coming in about a weeks time, but its already up on our old website. It’s at www.xendata.com, and that’s XenData with an X, so it’s xendata.com.
Larry Jordan: That website again, is xendata and Dr. Philip Storey is the co-founder of XenData and CEO. Phil, thanks for joining us today.
Dr. Phil Storey: Thank you Larry.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Dr. Phil Storey: Bye.
Larry Jordan: In 2000, John Tkaczewski co-founded Unlimi Tech Software which created File Catalyst. File Catalyst is used to improve file transfers. He’s now the president of the company and his products are used by Fortune 500 companies, television broadcasters, and movie studios around the world. Hello John, welcome.
John Tkaczewski: Hello Larry.
Larry Jordan: What first got you interested in file transfer?
John Tkaczewski: When we first started thinking about file transfer problems, was back in 2000, 2001 era, when we were working in the government, and we were tasked to write some file transfer software for mainframe computers. We recognized right away that moving large amount of data is going to be a much bigger problem than just moving some payroll information onto a mainframe.
Larry Jordan: What made it harder to move larger files than smaller files?
John Tkaczewski: First of all, it’s a long session. You’re handling a lot of data, which has to go over the network which is never guaranteed that everything’s going to arrive at the right time in the right place. Then making sure that everything arrives intact, meaning that what we’re actually copying arrives bit by bit, the same way onto the other disk.
Larry Jordan: Well then what does File Catalyst do?
John Tkaczewski: We started File Catalyst around 2006. What we did, we developed our own protocol, it’s based on UDP, so we can actually push as much data as we want through the network. We don’t have to wait for the TCP or the problems of TCP where as soon as you have latency, or packet loss, TCP will throw it down and slow down your speed. We can actually push as much data as we possibly can through the network, while keeping all the information intact and in good place. Meaning that if packets arrive out of order, we will be able to reconstruct the file and give you an intact file but in a lot faster time than TCP can offer.
Larry Jordan: With transfer speeds varying widely depending upon location, and especially the last mile connection, who can benefit from using File Catalyst?
John Tkaczewski: Anybody that has a ten megabit connection or higher. Depends also where you’re sending the data. If you’re sending the data across town, your benefit is much smaller because you’re just around the corner. But if you have that ten megabit connection, for example, and you’re going coast to coast transfers, now we’re talking about significant time improvement on those transmissions.
Larry Jordan: John, this really sounds pretty simple. I mean, I take a file, I move it from point A, to point B, what other features am I getting with File Catalyst that justify purchasing the software?
John Tkaczewski: One of the big issues in the media is knowing exactly who got which file, and when. We’ve built a lot of administration tools to help end users to know that. So for example you can log into a web portal on File Catalyst, and at a glance see exactly who’s transferring what. You have also the entire historical data to see who received what and when. So in post production for example, as soon as your customer or client gets the file, you can see that on the console and you can raise the invoice.
Larry Jordan: What kind of levels of security do you provide?
John Tkaczewski: Everything is secured with SSL, AES. So SSL is used for like the DCP connectivity, and AES is used for UDP. It’s the same grade of security as you would have with your online banking obligations.
Larry Jordan: Originally you announced a partnership with XenData. What’s this provide?
John Tkaczewski: So XenData is archival and storage. The idea here is that your archival site is not necessarily always in the same location as your production. So therefore you’re now going to have several miles or several hundred miles to the archival site, and we can speed up this process, so you can get your archival data really fast.
Larry Jordan: How is File Catalyst priced?
John Tkaczewski: The pricing is based on bandwidth and the functionality you want to achieve in our software. The simplest functionality would be sort of like a FileZilla type of workflow where you have local and remote panes and you can move files from the remote to the local, and vice versa. To much more sophisticated workflows where there’s automation involved, ability to move growing files. So it really depends on the functionality you want, and the bandwidth. To give you a ballpark start figure for perpetual license, where you own it for life, you’d be looking at about $5,000.
Larry Jordan: A lot of projects just last for a short period of time. We’re not a studio sending data all the time. Is there a way to get this for a shorter period of time?
John Tkaczewski: Yes of course. We have leased pricing where you can lease a license for three months. This allows you to have a much smaller cost of point of entry to use the software for specific applications or projects.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to learn more about the product, where can they go on the web?
John Tkaczewski: They can go to filecatalyst.com. We do offer a free 30 day trial evaluation of our software. All they have to do is just go to our website and request a trial.
Larry Jordan: That website is all one word. Filecatalyst.com, and John Tkaczewski is the co-founder and president of File Catalyst. John, thanks for joining us today.
John Tkaczewski: Thank you very much Larry.
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Larry Jordan: I want to thank this week’s guests and James DeRuvo, senior writer for DoddleNEWS.
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