Summary:

With more huge files and data sets making their way across the Internet every day, Aspera’s work of speeding the transfer of that data is never done. And although the company still focuses primarily on the enterprise, consumer content might be on the horizon.

Broadband Panel

We’ve covered Aspera’s proprietary high-speed file-transport technology, fasp, before, including its products for both Amazon Web Services and the iPhone, but with more and more huge files and data sets making their way across the Internet every day, the company’s work is never done. Now, problems associated with moving big data across overburdened WANs don’t just affect large companies; rather, they affect everyone from startups to consumers, as well. Aspera Co-Founder, President and CEO Michelle Munson and I talked this week so she could fill me in on what Aspera is working on now, and how she thinks Aspera can help alleviate the world’s bandwidth constraints going forward.

Presently, Aspera still is primarily the province of large companies dealing with big data. From digital media companies sending content among supply chain partners to life sciences researchers sending genome-sequencing data among institutes, Aspera has a broad customer base. Increasingly, Munson said, that also includes government intelligence customers sending video files between agencies.

Aspera is still working closely with Amazon Web Services, too, on efforts that help mitigate the need for joint customers to physically ship their hard drives to the cloud computing provider. Munson says Aspera’s fasp product can speed transfers to Amazon EC2 by about 100 times, reaching speeds of 400-500 megabits per second assuming customers have fast-enough connections. The company is also doing work to facilitate transfers directly to Amazon’s S3 storage service, and the reduce the bottleneck that occurs when transferring data between EC2 and S3 servers. This will be especially handy now that AWS supports 5TB objects in S3. Further, Aspera has an on-demand version of its product that utilizes the Amazon infrastructure and that charges users on a pay-per-use basis.

The cloud connection doesn’t stop with AWS, though, as Aspera also has partnerships with a variety of startups providing cloud-based services, including video companies Panvidea and Ooyala, and IaaS reseller RightScale. Really, Munson explained, any startups or small companies that want to deliver deliver content worldwide without using a CDN could leverage Aspera’s technology by storing content in the cloud and using Aspera to send it, ensuring high speeds even across shaky networks.

Soon, though, Aspera could become a stronger force in the consumer world. Munson stressed that although Aspera is not a consumer-facing company, it is working on partnerships with consumer-facing companies. The results could include everything from faster download and playout of streaming video, to helping consumers utilize their full bandwidth when uploading files to the web. For consumers with fast connections, she explained, Aspera could make a “big difference” compared with relying on TCP alone.

I think the consumer space could be a real boon for business if Aspera can get the right partnerships in place. No individual transaction would match the revenue of a single enterprise user, but consumers might pay for such a service by the millions. Imagine being able to upload HD videos or whole hard drives to YouTube, SugarSync or any other web service without having it take a few hours, at least. I’d pay, and I don’t think I’m alone.

To hear more from Michelle Munson about the issues related to moving big data across slow networks, and how Aspera approaches improving that process, be sure to attend our Structure Big Data conference March 23 in New York City.

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