IBM touts new high speed file transfer acquisition for business

TAMPA – A lot of the talk at IBM’s SmarterCommerce conference here this week is about the glory applications businesses use to mine customer data for insights for making immediate online offers that turn indifferent shoppers into buyers.

But plumbing is also part of e-commerce. Take for example IBM’s new Aspera file transfer division, a startup it bought in January. Aspera FASP is a protocol that replaces FTP and HTTP for firing large files over wide area networks.

As a new member of IBM’s B2B division, the company is being touted here in interviews with reporters.

The next time you watch the news on GlobalTV, remember the Canadian network uses Aspera so news teams can send video files in for editing. Bell Canada and Rogers Communications also use it for their video on demand and streaming solutions.

Company co-founder and president Michelle Munson describes Aspera as an enabling technology for big data. Although media companies, life sciences and energy firms are among its biggest clients, it would like to broaden that base, which is what being bought by IBM will allow it to do.

“The concept for acquiring Aspera was to both enable the managed file transfer line for the emerging area of large data and to also have the capability to integrate into other products IBM makes that are data-focused,” she said in an interview. Many of IBM’s marketing suites involve large data sets, she pointed out, and “the more analytics are done the more that transfer and availability goes with that.”

Other customers include Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola, who need to transfer large video or rich media files to advertising agencies or stores, and YouTube.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) says Aspera can transfer a 10 GB file over a 1 Gbps connection across the U.S. in two minutes or less (assuming no storage bottlenecks) compared to 15 to 20 hours over FTP.

Products include eXtreme File Transfer for moving files, and Enterprise File Sync and Share, for securely transferring files from desktops or mobile devices.

Aspera runs on almost any server platform – Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, IBM AIX, Macintosh – as well as cloud platform file systems of OpenStack, Amazon S3, Google Storage, Akamai and Microsoft Azure so Apsera files can flow in and out at high speed. There are also plug-ins for mobile devices and one for Web browsers called Aspera Connect, which enables browsers to offload file transfers to the company’s software.

Aspera was self-funded and didn’t need IBM’s money for expansion, Munson said. But it fits with IBM’s strategy to re-position itself around data and cloud solutions need by enterprises.

One thing IBM wants to do with Aspera is to put it on IBM’s Softlayer infrastructure as a service platform. That would put Aspera on its own infrastructure instead of a third party’s. There could be cost savings for customers, Munson said. And it would also help make the technology accessible to a wider range of organizations through IBM’s channel partners, she said.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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