iPlant Creates Convenient Data Transfer with Cyberduck

By Shelley Littin, iPlant Collaborative

Transferring data into and out of the iPlant Collaborative’s scalable data-management platform, the Data Store, is now easier and faster than ever before, thanks to new capabilities of the popular data transfer application Cyberduck.

The application is more user-friendly compared with other data transfer options, said iPlant scientific analyst Roger Barthelson: “I find that Cyberduck is solid, dependable, and very fast, with more functionality. It’s a great tool.”

Cyberduck is used worldwide for transferring data from Mac and PC desktops to servers and cloud systems using protocols such as SFTP and HTPP. The extension to Cyberduck’s capabilities to support iRODS protocol allows iPlant users to transfer data into and out of the iPlant Data Store easily, as well as between cloud systems such as Amazon, Rackspace, and Google Cloud Storage, said Nirav Merchant, co-principal investigator of iPlant at the BIO5 Institute and director of information technology at Arizona Research Laboratories at iPlant’s headquarters at the University of Arizona.

iRODS is widely used by thousands globally to manage their data in a variety of disciplines, including hydrology, astronomy, engineering, and life sciences. Thus, the new Cyberduck plug-in effort led by iPlant will have a global impact to improve convenience of data transfer for scientists working with large-scale data.

Cyberduck allows users, who may not be computational experts, to work with a very familiar desktop interface to store their data, said Merchant. It has the added benefit that it does parallel transfer at high speed, emphasizing convenience for the end user without sacrificing performance. The tool has a familiar graphical user interface, with notifications and drag-and-drop capabilities.

“Cyberduck has a widespread deployment in web development and is a premier tool for cloud storage file transfers,” noted David Kocher, the co-creator of Switzerland-based Cyberduck. The duck brand was selected because of the newly introduced “dock” in 2001, when Cyberduck was just getting started, Kocher said. “The prefix was chosen as a reference to its habitat in the Internet.”

Using Cyberduck, Barthelson was able to download a 2.8 Gigabyte file in 3 minutes, transferring the content at a rate of approximately 1 Gigabyte per minute into iPlant’s Data Store, which provides a reliable and redundant repository for storage, analysis and sharing of scientific data.

Making these enhancements to the open-source project Cyberduck was the result of a collaboration between two National Science Foundation-sponsored projects, iPlant Collaborative and DataNet Federation Consortium, as well as the creators of Cyberduck. The effort was led by directors at the iPlant Collaborative.

Instructions for configuring Cyberduck with the iPlant Data Store are available here. Visit the iPlant wiki for an overview on storing data and accessing the Data Store.