Popular FTP Client Hits 40-Million Mark

In the pre-dawn of the Web era, only a handful of tools sat on every developer’s desk. Chief among them was WS_FTP, the File Transfer Protocol client launched in 1992 by Ipswitch.

Twelve years and so many file transfers later, the Lexington, Mass.-based company said it has passed the 40 million-user milestone for the stalwart FTP client.

William Pollack, chief operating officer of Ipswitch, said 40 million users helps prove that FTP is still a preferred form of network transport for files.

However, the company does not break down the division of paid vs. unpaid users. Though not issued under any modern open source license, the original WS_FTP program, and later the educational version WS_FTP LE, were considered by many users to be freeware because it was shared so widely.

But Ipswitch officials shrug off any questions of an open source threat to the company’s bottom line. “Like other industries where open source applications exist, companies are more comfortable knowing they are purchasing from a leading software publisher who is a viable company,” said Kevin Gillis, WS_FTP product manager at Ipswitch.

“Ipswitch has 12 years straight of revenue growth with a strong Technical Support organization, a strong history of shipping product releases, a worldwide network of Premier Partners and Resellers to offer Professional Services for setup, installation, maintenance and overall support; and even smaller items like printed documentation which is not always available for open source products,” he told internetnews.com.

The original FTP standard was notorious as a security issue because of passwords that were passed in clear text, which were easily spotted by password “sniffing” programs. But newer versions of WS_FTP now support Secure Sockets Layer protocols and Secure Shell over SSL, also called SFTP .

“FTP is 30+ years old and used across all horizontal and vertical
markets,” added Kevin Gillis, WS_FTP product manager at Ipswitch. He said users include “those where security is paramount including US Military, US Government, Defense Contractors and Financial Services.”

Gillis said WS_FTP benefited from a number of factors too.
“It is one of the most proven applications available, so it has time on its side plus a good combination of being highly functional yet easy to use,” he told internetnews.com. “There is a huge worldwide network of loyal users and word of mouth is still our single largest marketing vehicle.”

A new WS_FTP Pro Secure SDK was released in February and there are a number of new releases scheduled over the course of this year.

“With all the emerging regulatory and compliance issues (e.g. HIPAA, SOX, Patriot Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, Basel II, etc.), the need for secure file and data transfer and management is looking healthy,” Gillis added.

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