Ottawa file transfer firm wins Emmy

There are any number of official and unofficial IT industry awards, but an Ottawa company had the rare distinction this year of winning a technical award from the U.S  Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

The Emmy, awarded to Unlimi-Tech Software for its secure accelerated file transfer solutions, will be picked up January 8 at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, starting the new year off with a bang.

Broadcasters, who create huge video files, are among the company’s biggest customers, John Tkaczewski, president and co-founder, said in an interview. NBC, for example, used Unlimi-Tech solutions to upload files from Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, to Stamford, Ct.

John Tkacczewski, Unlimi-Tech
John Tkacczewski, Unlimi-Tech

“In two weeks we transferred 45,000 HD files, practically in real time,” Tkaczewski said. “If you wanted to use traditional tools like FTP it would have taken three years.”

Co-founded in 2001 with CEO Chris Bailey, Tkaczewski said the company has “always been heavily involved in the media and entertainment industry. Some of the biggest American and Canadian networks use our software.

“It’s been years in the making. It wasn’t a single advance that caused us to win the Emmy.”

The federal government played a small part in the win: In the late 1990s Bailey and Tkaczewski were working for the Public Works department charged with building a file transfer system for mainframes. They decided to leave the government to build a solution for PCs. Its first product was UnlimitedFTP, a Java applet.

In 2006 the company started to develop acceleration technology for file transfer with FileCatalyst for large file transfers.

Speed depends on bandwidth, but Tkaczewski said FileCatalyst’s solution is three to 100 times faster than regular file transfer.

To move a 10 GB file from Los Angeles to England using FTP would take 12 hours, he said. FileCatalyst can do it in 14 minutes.

Co-incidentally, Ottawa is the home to another high speed file transfer company: Signiant Inc., which also counts NBC as a customer as well as 20th Century Fox, the BBC and ESPN. Its products include MediaShuttle, SkyDrop for moving loads to and from the cloud, and Manager+Agents.

Also in this space is Aspera, bought just over a year ago by IBM.

FileCatalyst is a series of client-server applications that come in three versions:

–Direct, for point to point file transfers. It comes with tools for automating scheduling, controlling bandwith and QoS to transfers;

–WorkFlow, a Web based portal for transfers instead of using a client. Just enter an email address destination, select file and the recipient gets a message with a link;

–Central, for management of FileCatalyst servers. It also delivers alerts to administrators if there are problems.

To get around the problem of Java browser plug-ins, FileCatalyst Transfer Agent was released in the fall. It’s an HTML5 interface that allows users to leverage the FileCatalyst protocol from within a web browser without a browser plugin. Although it can be integrated into FileCatalyst WorkFlow, Tkaczewski said Web developers can also build it into any Web page.

Meanwhile Tkaczewski said he and other staffers are preparing to go to the awards ceremony. Wearing a tux? The technical awards are less formal than the prime time awards, he said. “I am still debating whether I’m going to wear a tux and over-dress, or wear an nice, sharp suit.”

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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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