Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter have formed a pact to move data between platforms in an initiative known as Data Transfer Project. Google said in a blog post that it will allow users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it.”
The data that will be transferred include pictures, mail, contacts, calendars, and tasks, drawing from APIs available to the public from Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Remember the Milk, and SmugMug. Microsoft posted in its blog admonishing other companies to join in on the initiative saying that “portability and interoperability are central to cloud innovation and competition.”
The open-source code for the project is available on GitHub alongside a white paper that carries the description of its scope. The codebase consists mainly of adapter capable of translating proprietary APIs into an interoperable transfer allowing data on Instagram work on Flickr and contrariwise. Engineers have built a system to encrypt the data that’s being transmitted by issuing secret keys for every transaction. This system focuses on a single transfer and not continuous transfers that are enabled by a lot of APIs.
The white paper on GitHub reads, “The future of portability will need to be more inclusive, flexible, and open. Our hope for this project is that it will enable a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly.”
Most of the coding has been done by Google and Microsoft so far as their engineers have for a long time been working on the idea of a more robust data transfer. Greg Fair, product manager for Google Takeout, the idea came out of frustration that is associated with the available options for managing data after it has been downloaded. A tool such as Takeout could only solve half of this problem.
According to Greg Fair, “When people have data, they want to be able to move it from one product to another. It’s a problem that we can’t really solve alone.”