Last year I was working on a project researching the failure rate of FTP file transfers. I was looking to find how often file transfers using FTP did not complete successfully. It seemed like a straight forward and easy task. Everyone I spoke with had an opinion on the failure rate, but couldn’t point me to a citable source. Some folks had read it somewhere, but couldn’t recall exactly where… while others heard it from someone but couldn’t remember who had said it. This was starting to feel like chasing down an urban legend.
My internet searches were not turning up anything more substantial, it was more anecdotal examples or things that were just not on point. Even my discussions with analysts didn’t provide what I needed. The analysts were certain that FTP has reliability issues, and they had educated guesses at a range of failure rates, but still nothing that was supported by citable research. In the end, I was unable to meet the legal threshold for citing any of the anecdotal rates, so we moved forward on the project without an FTP failure rate. But the question stayed in the back of my mind.
So earlier this year while my team was putting together some market research studies, I was very keen on including a few questions about FTP reliability and failures. My teammates, that I had been bugging for failure rate information previously, were as eager as I was to find out the answer. After waiting weeks for the research to be compled, we had an answer. The 2013 Vanson Bourne B2B Integration and MFT Global Study for IBM interviewed 650 Senior level IT executives from 8 countries and included the question, “In the context of transfers that use the FTP protocol, what percentage would you estimate do not complete successfully?” Without further ado, the answer was 6.47%. Almost six and a half percent of FTP file transfers fail.
That is an amazing rate that brought numerous questions to mind. Like, how do companies cope with that many failurs and what does that cost an organization, which I will discuss in a future blog.