I had an opportunity to discuss moving large-to-huge data files around with Ian Hamilton, CTO of Signiant. His company reached out to me after reading my comments about IBM Softlayer's plans to allow customers to move very large files from place to place in the post, IBM PartnerWorld: SoftLayer looks to simplify IT. Hamilton wanted to introduce his company and what it has been doing since the early 2000s. He also wanted to introduce me to Media Shuttle, the company's newest product that is based upon the its LAN acceleration and file movement technology.
Introduction to Signiant
Signiant was founded in 2000 to address the needs media companies had to move large objects — movies, television shows, soundtracks and other media files — from place to place as part of the production and delivery process. It developed technology that combined acceleration, automation, security, and control to address those needs. The company's client list reads like the who's who of TV broadcasting, studios and production, post production, media services, sports, game publishing, and government organizations.
As the IT industry began to explore ways to utilize big data and analytics, the company saw a way to repackage its technology and address a new market segment. After all, moving huge files containing digital content for a film and moving huge files containing operational data both boil down to moving huge files through the network quickly and safely.
The company also offers an enterprise software product for those wishing to implement this technology in their own IT infrastructure.
A look at Media Shuttle
Media Shuttle is the newest implementation of Signiant's technology. In this case, Signiant is offering a file movement service. Customers can drag a huge file or set of files, drop them on a Web portal, and the files are automatically sent from one place to another through the network.
After a long discussion of what was going on behind the scenes, it became clear to me that Signiant had implemented technology that crosses software-defined networking and software-defined storage. The communication stream is, in essence, separated into two flows of communication — control and data. The data object to be moved is analyzed and a large number of segments of this object are moved across the network in parallel. The control functions constantly adjust the size of the data segments being transferred to both optimize the use of the available network bandwidth and make sure that all of the segments arrive safely.
Although Hamilton wouldn't offer a detailed description of how Signiant's products actually accomplish these tasks, I was reminded of how Digital Equipment Corporation's DECnet functioned on long latency and unreliable network links.
Although IBM Softlayer is touting the technology it acquired when it purchased Aspera, it would be wise for IT decision-makers to also know about Signiant and its technology.