Storage Made Easy made easy provides free WebDav access to Clouds that don’t support WebDav

We are now giving away 150MB of free WebDav access to mapped Clouds to all SME free accounts. This is enough to access around 300 documents on Mobile devices per month and is enough for the average use of WebDav into Clouds such as DropBox, Google Drive, SkyDrive etc.

If you want to access more than just pay a one time $5 fee and get access to 2GB per month of WebDav for the life of your use of our service. If you want unlimited use then just sign up to be a personal cloud or business cloud user.

Also, all free accounts feature 5GB free storage on Amazon S3 and the ability to add up to 3 other Clouds that you wish to access.

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Cloud Computing Use Case: Automatic notifications of new or changed iWork Numbers documents stored on Google Drive

We had an interesting Use Case recently in which the requirements were as follows:

The Company in question had a Google Apps Account and therefore used Google Drive for their Storage. They had a number of iWork Numbers documents that were modified by their team members whilst on the move using iWork and iPad’s. Currently their process was editing the files, and then trying to send the resultant file via email to other team members. Due to file size some files were not received and in general the email server was quickly eating up storage. What they cam to SME for was to figure out how they could refine this process.

With Storage Made Easy the process became much simpler. Firstly the company subscribed to a Cloud File Server SaaS Account. The SME Cloud Admin then added the companies Google Drive account to be accessible via SME and invited other team members to be part of the Cloud File Server. On the Folder(s) in question the Cloud Admin simply set permissions so that relevant team members had access and added a notification rule specific to keynote file to ensure that all subscribers to the shared folder received an email notification on new files or updates to existing files. As per our prior article on Twitter and SMS Gateways on these changes to file events SME can easily generate instant SMS notifications.

As Storage Made Easy enables WebDav above any Cloud added to it then Google Drive becomes instantly accessible via WebDav. For the Company this means that they can simply open and create new keynote files directly in Keynote from their shared Google Drive folder and then on completion simply save them back. The very act of doing this generates a file event on completion which send an email and/or SMS to users subscribed to the shared folder vastly simplifying the process.




Another added benefit to the company is the complete end-to-end joined up audit tracking they get on all Google Drive documents:

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Manage and Sync with all your Cloud Services using Storage Made Easy’s iOS App

We’ve updated the Storage Made Easy iPad / iPhone App. As with all Storage Made Easy mobile clients, the App unifies public cloud services such as Box, SkyDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, Amazon S3 as well as private cloud services such as OpenStack, FTP(s), WebDav, Zimbra etc.

The App also features our innovative CloudDav feature. CloudDav enables WebDav across any Cloud that is mapped to the App. This then enables users to edit documents using any of their storage services with Doc editing Apps such as iWork, even if the native Cloud does not actually support WebDav.

This update includes a number of refinements and changing such as slight tweak to support the iPhone 5 screen resolution, and the release also extends the Business WorkSpaces feature. This feature lets users create Business WorkSpaces directly from the App and enables members of the group to share files securely with each other.

Cross Cloud Search is also a feature of the App. This means, for example, that if you need to search for files related to a a certain project keyword you can simply type the search terms and all the cloud data sources that you have mapped to the App will be searched and the aggregated results returned.

For the SME business SaaS and on-premise Appliance customers the integration of the SaaS and hybrid Appliance with on-premise Active Directory servers enables single sign-on as users can authenticate with their Active Directory username and passwords.

Some review comments taken from the App store reviews can be seen below:

“This app is a must have if you want to easily manage and have functionality between up to 3 cloud apps. SME is e a very advanced app. So far I’ve been able to download zip files from my email, un-zip (or in SME terminology unarchive) and send to any of my cloud accounts. I can transfer files between clouds from the app either by cloud copy or cloud cut, the later of which will move the file. There’s definitely a learning curve for the advanced features, but the ones I described are easy learn. SME has bar non the best tech support I’ve ever dealt with. On three occasions I needed help to learn the functions, and within 30 minutes tech support had my problem resolved. P.S. not being tech savvy the 3 problems were on my end. By far this is one of the best apps I’ve purchased. The functionality it provides the Pages App alone makes SME worth every penny.”

“Needed a WebDav solution for iWork apps in order to move files to and from the iPad. Dropbox does not support WebDav, iWork does not support Dropbox. iSMEStorage fills the void, providing WebDav services to Dropbox and many other cloud storage providers. Getting WebDav enabled via SME’s CloudDav was not as easy as it could have been, but SME Support was fantastic, getting me up and running on the weekend. All I can say is well done! Now I can move files on & off the iPad seamlessly. Very nice! Well worth the one time charge for the app.”

“First App I’ve used that lets me sync a few different folders on different clouds in one go, and editing files from clouds that iWork does not support is pretty cool however they manage to do it !”

“This is a great supplement for creating your own personal cloud service. Great!”

iSMEStorage from Storage Made Easy is available in the Apple App Store for iPad and iPhone users.

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Integrating iAnnotate with Google Docs, Amazon S3, RackSpace, and other Clouds

The latest version of iAnnotate PDF, the iPad App that enables editing of PDF Documents, adds support for WebDav which means that you can use the SMEStorage ClouDav Protocol Adaptor, free with the iOS iSMEStorage App, to connect iAnnotate to many Clouds that it does not natively support. SMEStorage supports integration with more Storage and SaaS Clouds than any other service.

The steps to enable access to the Clouds mapped to your SMEStorage Account are simple:

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CloudDav is enabled with all Business Cloud File Server Accounts.

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Google Docs WebDav update

We made some changes to accommodate some issues with Google Docs with our CloudDav protocol Adaptor:

1. The first change relates to creating documents directly in Google Docs and then trying to open the files directly in Pages iWork (for example). Previously this failed as the file had a zero size, as the size is unknown until Google exports it. We fixed this. Now such files created directly in Google Docs will open correctly.

2. The second change related to saving files directly back to Google Docs when creating them in Pages (or other Keynote, Numbers). These would fail because pages tried to place a zero size file lock to test write access. Other Clouds allow this but Google Docs does not, and therefore Pages would report that the file could not be saved. This is also now resolved.

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Cloud Computing Use Case: Editing Google Docs, Office365 and DropBox files in iWork on the iPad

We recently did a roll out of our Cloud File Server service to a company of just under 150 people. The primary driver of this was federating data sources, governance and auditing of data, and the ability to edit files directly on iWork on the iPad.

For this use case we’ll concentrate on the latter, enabling ubiquitous document editing on the iPad using the Apple iWork product which encompasses Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

The company is a technology company in which different parts of the businesses use different Cloud Services. The core business admin and management uses Office365. Google Docs is used by the sales team, primarily as a way to share Google Docs files easily with their customers and prospects, whom they found to be predominately Google Docs users. DropBox is used by the tech team who like the ability to have replicated to all their code, tech papers etc instantly to any device.

Interestingly, whereas you would think this disparate use of similar Cloud storage services is an edge case, we find it is not. The storage vendor names may change, but the disparate number, of what appear to be, similar services remains.

When questioned about why they don’t use the other in-house services each team had a different USP as to why:

Tech Team: “With DropBox I don’t have to remember to bring my files. They are always with me”

Admin / Management: “Office365 works and Syncs with what I use like my Outlook task list and calendar”

Sales Team: “most of our customers use Google Apps, so sharing files with the Google Group we have setup for Sales is the best way to get new deals / propositions to them”

One thing this company has jointly bought into was iPad’s. They all used them and their preference was to use Apple iWork as their document editor as they liked it’s simplicity, ease of use, and WYSIWYG features. The problem was it did not work with any of their Cloud products.as it only supported iCloud, MobileMe and WebDav.

The company in question had already bought into the SME Cloud File Server. It enabled them to audit files above all the clouds they used and provide Organisation Shared folders that worked above a “set” of Clouds, giving them a single view on disparate resources.

As the SME Cloud File Server also supports a WebDav protocol adaptor above any Cloud, something we call CloudDav, then it became very easy for all the teams to create, load, edit, and save documents to either Google Docs, Office365, or DropBox.

The steps to achieve this were simple:

1. Launch Pages, Numbers or Keynote

2. Click the ‘+’ button and choose ‘Copy from Webdav’ (assume a doc is to be loaded)

3. Enter https://Webdav.smestorage.com as the server address and your smestorage username and password as authentication. This will then load the file tree and the clouds available to the account.

4. Tap on a document to load it and start editing

5. When finished just choose the “Copy to WebDAV” button and it will be saved.

In this way documents in Clouds not supported by iWork can be edited and saved.

 

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PogoPlug Provider updated

We’ve enhanced the PogoPlug cloud provider so that as well as supporting PogoPlug appliances, we support also the newly announced PogoPlug Cloud. This means that you can use SMEStorage desktop and mobile access clients to manage your PogoPlug Cloud(s) and also business users can use PogoPlug as the data store for a Cloud File Server, and users who want ubiquitous access to PogoPlug from FTP and WebDav can use our CloudDav and CloudFTP protocol adaptors.

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Turning any Storage Cloud into an Amazon S3 compatible Private, Public or hybrid Cloud

In the past we have written about Amazon S3 and how, aas the 100 pound gorilla, of the Cloud Storage world, it’s S3 API has become almost a de facto interface for developers. This is one of the reasons that we originally added an S3 API protocol adaptor to our service.

Many start up’s, small businesses and even enterprises choose initially to use S3 for storage.  This can be fine initially, however, when the volume increases the monthly bill can become an OPEX issue and small companies (and Enterprise) are looking for ways to slash their costs in any way they can. Aside from this other companies have stringent issues about where data is stored (for clarification, Amazon S3 is PCI DSS 2.0 compliant,   SAS 70 Type II certified, and VPV ISO 27001 certified) or wish to store it within their own data centre or site.

As SMEStorage supports over 35 Clouds and SaaS services, you could very easily turn Google Docs, Box, Windows Azure or DropBox into an S3 Platform, or you could just add your own NetGear or PogoPlug appliance, or other private storage implementation.

The SME hosted service, and Cloud Appliance,  provides the ability access to any Saas or cloud storage mapped to your account via multiple protocols. These include  FTP, WebDav and also S3. These work even if the backend provider does not support the protocol natively. The SME protocol adaptors will do the protocol translation to the native storage provider protocol. One of the benefits of this that the users don’t need any special software to be able to access the Clouds. They can use any FTP, or WebDav client, or in the case of S3 any S3 client or code in which the host endpoint can be changed.

To demonstrate compatibility with the S3 API and tools we will now look at how to use AWS s3curl with a smestorage account.

To use s3 curl you will need to modify s3curl.pl and change the end point to

s3.smetorage.com’ (US Server) or ’s3eu.smestorage.com‘ (EU Server) e.g my @endpoints = ( ‘s3.smestorage.com‘);

Your id is your smestorage account user name and you can obtain your secret key by logging into SMEStorage.com going to “My  Dashboard” (from the sidebar) and copying the API key from  the“Tech Info”  section where the “API secret Key” resides.

Now you are all set to use s3curl. For example to list all the buckets you can use

./s3curl.pl –id smestorageusername –key API secret key http://s3.smestorage.com

For s3curl command line options please see the README file that is part of the s3curl package. Also note that the secure way to use s3curl is to use the .s3curl file in your home directory to pass the id and and key.

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Cloud Computing Use Case: Enabling Cross Cloud file abstraction with unified ACLs and BYOD

Continuing our ongoing blogs on Cloud Computing Use Cases, this one is from a real customer with a complex use which details how and why they use SMEStorage:

Please tell us a little about what you do:

AlliedComm provides turn-key communication and web information applications. AlliedComm consists of four micro brands that service niche industries and organizations. These brands include JurisComm, FaithComm, Healthcomm and CiviComm

What were the technical challenge you were trying to solve:

1) Quickly allocate cloud-based ‘Private Organization Decentralized Storage’ for clients (‘pods’) that can be shed/discharged with client attrition.
2) Create a seamless management layer between cloud storage asset (pod) and respective client with flexible ACL permissions for individual client access.
3) Provide a branded, feature-rich portal with an improved GUI cloud-management experience for clients to independently manage cloud assets.

Why did you choose SMEStorage?

#1 BYOD. Whether by Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Blackberry, WinPhone, CloudDav, HTTP, FTP, email, fax and web, …you name it, SME’ supports it. (I wouldn’t be surprised if SME’ announces ‘messenger pigeon-to-cloud’ support coming early Q2 2012 *April fools). Our customers demand access to their cloud on their terms. SME allows us to provide all of this at a fraction of the cost compared to other vendors and with zero infrastructure.

#2 Features, features, features …they go on and on and on. They are easy to get to and intuitively laid out. EVERY setting is flexible and customizable. SME’s flexibility allows for limitless applications and ease of management specific to our business’s needs. With ‘power user’ features, we can really manipulate our settings. Nuance matters and we like the flexibility SMEstorage gives us to groom our SME’ service specific to the way we need it to operate.

#3 No ‘sky high’ corporate-centric pricing. Fair is fair. No gimmicks. No games. Pay for what you use. A la carte add-ons. We LOVE that.

#4 Easy security, backup and redundancy. With SMEstorage, we’re able to isolate our clients’ respective cloud assets as separate ‘pods’ but manage them from a layer above on one interface from within SMEstorage. SMEstorage gives us the ability to import, integrate and transfer assets between virtually EVERY cloud storage provider.

#5 Integration, inclusion and extensibility. We can can still access and manage our cloud vendor resources outside of SME’ if we choose to. SME’ provides the flexibility to integrate web storage with our web applications directly with each cloud storage vendor or, alternatively, by proxy with SME’. Often times SME’ provides integration capabilities not available directly from the cloud storage vendor.

Give us an example of how you decided to use SMEStorage

A good example of one application we use SME’ for is FaithComm’s Cloud Media Storage and CDN. Our client’s’ sites are hosted on FaithComm’s standalone servers while the large media and image files are offloaded to cloud storage ‘pods’ and broadcasted across our CDN. We’re able to manage everything from our SMEstorage account yet each client’s cloud storage assets are independent from each other as separate S3, Azure, Rackspace, etc. accounts. From the client’s point of view, the two applications are seamless. Additionally, we provide each client with group ACL login credentials to collaborate on, access, combine, transfer and manage all of their their cloud storage assets via SME’ on the device of their choice. SMEstorage, in our opinion, is a brilliant development in the storage and management of cloud-based assets.

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CloudDav update – say goodbye to those additional files in iWork

The SMEStorage implementation of CloudDav enables us to provide WebDav over any Cloud whether the underlying Cloud supports it or not. This has great use on devices such as the iPad when users want to use Google Docs with iWork or SKyDrive with iWork etc.

One of the small niggling issues we’ve had is that when files are saved using iWork the CloudDav implementation creates two extra files. One is the original file which is data and timestamped and the other is an empty file. The reason for this is:

1. Whenever SMEStorage changes a file (if file versioning is not turned on) then the original file is actually versioned and moved to Trash. The file is not actually removed from the underlying Cloud until the Trash is emptied and is visible in the same directory as the newly created file, except it has a date and timestamp appended to it.

2. iWork actually creates an empty file when you are working with the file you wish to edit. This file is empty and is a lock on a file  that it  lets go of once the file has been saved, but it results in the creation of a real empty  file.

Most of our users who use CloudDav with iWork just want one file that they changed to be saved and no additional files which they have to manually remove.

To accommodate this we’ve added a new setting in the Cloud DashBoard (accessible from the right sidebar after login):

 

 

 

 

 

This option is on for all new CloudDav accounts and can be turned on for any existing CloudDav accounts. This will prevent the creation of the extra two files in iWork on the iPad / iPhone.

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