Have you ever heard the saying “same, but different?” No matter the similarities, we like to be able to find distinctions when making decisions. While exploring the alternatives to SFTP To Go, we stumbled across a number of terms. Whether it’s hosted SFTP, SFTP as a service, SFTP hosting or cloud SFTP service, there are so many names for what appears to be the same offering. We went on a quest to figure out the distinctions between them, and came to the conclusion that the difference boils down to the state of mind of both the user and the service provider.

Using the qualities and features of these services, the following post will attempt to clear up some of the blurred lines.

Same or different? That is the question! Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Ownership and responsibility

We like to think of SFTP as a Service as a representation of SaaS (software as a service), in which the software you use is an SFTP server, that you connect to using any SFTP client. Hosted SFTP, on the other hand, lends itself to the notion of IaaS (infrastructure as a service), where you gain access to a server, hosted by the provider’s data centers.

It’s true that with hosted SFTP you may not be able to pick the OS type or version, or even the instance type, but the point is that with hosted SFTP there’s a shift in responsibility and ownership from the provider to the user.

Setup and onboarding

In the same manner, with SFTP as a Service (at least in the way our service is architectured), the user should expect a quick sign up process and immediate access to the SFTP service. No need to wait for an instance to be provisioned before you can access it. Moreover, you don’t even care if there’s an instance there, as long as you can use your client to login. It may be serverless for all you care. Life just got easier.

Elasticity and scalability

With SFTP as a service, your storage, bandwidth, the number of concurrent connections, or the amount of users created should be extremely flexible and allow you to scale up and down according to your needs. Therefore, there is no reason to switch over to another host in case you require more storage capacity, more users or more concurrent connections.

Automation and application interfaces

With hosted SFTP, comes SFTP, plain and simple. When using SFTP as a service, you should expect not only other application interfaces to your files (e.g. FTPS, Amazon S3, HTTPS), but also APIs for access and user management, and webhooks that notify your applications when files are created, changed or deleted.

High availability and business continuity

SFTP as a service should deliver a laser focused solution that, for your benefit, acts as a black box that allows you to access files over the SFTP protocol. Additionally, since you expect the service provider to take maximum ownership of the service, you should also expect maximum uptime of the service, and support when dealing with data loss, in case of user errors or hardware failure.

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We’re definitely not saying that all hosted SFTP providers lack what is included in SFTP To Go, which is SFTP as a service, but we do believe different terms have different meanings. We’d love to hear your take on it - you are more than welcome to write to us by clicking the chat button.

Post image by Herbert Bieser from Pixabay