Kiwis post file-transfer to the web

The file transfer system was born out of the company's need to send massive files overseas

Wellington-based Blade, a software consulting firm which specialises in technical content development and software tools, is providing companies around the world with secure file transfer technology.

The company’s product, Blade Transfer Services, is a client/server software tool that performs fast, secure file uploads over the internet or local networks, using standard HTTP or HTTPS protocols, says Valentine Boiarkine, Blade’s lead architect.

Blade, which Boiarkine set up with Peter O’Dowd in 2001, develops and delivers technical content for Microsoft in Redmond — for example, content for Exchange 2007, .Net Framework 3.0 and Office Communications Server.

The file transfer system was born out of the company’s need to send massive files overseas, says Boiarkine. Previously, the company relied on five-business-days courier transfers, which were not very secure — “and then you realised you had forgotten to add one file”, she says.

The system, first released in 2006, is designed for uploading and downloading very large files. File size is unlimited, says Boiarkine. The largest single file transfer over the system to date is 30GB. Some of Blade’s customers transfer 10GB daily, she adds. Users around the world transfer database files, virtual machine images, large multimedia files, CD and DVD images, and back-up files over the internet, through satellite links and other unreliable networks, she says.

The tool differs from standard upload mechanisms in that it uses checkpoint restart functionality to resume the upload at the point it left off should the connection drop temporarily, says Boiarkine. It also allows the user to pause the upload and resume it later, as well as queue multiple uploads.

Blade’s recently released version 2.1 of the tool includes a web client, which allows any authorised user to upload and download files securely from the customer’s server without installing client software. The system performs authentication against the customer’s corporate active directory, says Boiarkine.

Anyone who is authorised by the organisation can send and receive files in a secure environment — from anywhere, on any machine, be it from home, a hotel or any other location, says Boiarkine.

Another enhancement to the tool is that users can now replicate data between multiple offices, on a scheduled basis, without having a VPN. HTTPS is used as the back-end mechanism, she says.

The risks surrounding file transfers include unreliability, weak security, unnecessary administrative costs, non-compliance issues, and the risk of losing your most sensitive data, says Boiarkine. “It’s just a question of how and when [these risks] will seriously impact on your operational efficiency,” she says.

Today, many organisations have problems copying files over the WAN, says Blade co-founder Peter O’Dowd. Many people need to transfer files from external parties and move files between remote locations but find email inadequate for file transfer, so have to rely on physically transferring files, he says.

O’Dowd says Blade’s system offers a secure, user-friendly and affordable way of transferring files. There is no constraint on number of users.

A breakthrough for the company came when resellers and ISPs started using its product to provide a service to host off-site back-up for their customers, says Boiarkine.

As part of their disaster recovery plan, these resellers and ISPs offer to take care of their customers’ back-ups in their own datacentres.

The system also keeps tabs on who sent what to whom, and can identify exactly where files are located, which can help with organisations’ compliance obligations, she says.

International clients include mining company the Dundee Precious Metals Group, which uses satellites to transfer files from gold mines in remote areas. A medical client is the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, which uses the tool to transfer data from clinical trial sites across the US. Local clients include Lion Nathan, The Computer Guys and Xellon.

Blade File Transfer System is distributed by Soft Solutions in New Zealand.

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