Hi, I’m James, a Senior Developer at Storage Made Easy. As a developer, I often look for ways to reduce coupling in the tools and technologies that we use, and I see this from the low level code that we write, to the higher-level architectural choices we make.by
For those who use the Enterprise File Share and Sync service from Storage Made Easy they will know that as part of the Windows and Mac desktop tools that are provided that there is a n email toolbar integration into Mac Mail and Microsoft Outlook that enables users to securely share file links rather than file attachments.
This support for secure email link sharing has now been extended for Chrome users using Gmail using the Storage Made Easy Gmail Plugin available from the Chrome web store.
Once added this provides a new toolbar entry when composing Gmail’s on Chrome:
Once selected this prompts the user to log into their SME Account, if SaaS, or the user can set their custom endpoint if using the SME On-Site Enterprise File Share and Sync solution:
Once logged in the user is presented with their mapped clouds:
From here files can be shared as links can be shared from any of the mapped cloud directories:
If a cloud governance file policy has been set by the Cloud Administrator for the team account then the details here will be pre-populated otherwise options can be chosen prior to link generation. After this when share is clicked, the link is added to the email:
When the link is shared, if Auditing is turned on within the SME Account, then the link generation will be recorded in the Audit log and once the remote user opens the link the remote IP address will also be recorded.
**Note: only team and on-premise accounts provide the Audit featuresby
Today we have upgraded the Storage Made Easy Web Cloud File Manager.
The Storage Made Easy Web File Manager is different to a lot of file managers that you see today as it is hierarchical in nature and resembles a true file tree (akin to windows explorer). It’s hierarchical nature enables it to easily work with and manoeuvre around large data sets.
Over the years we have had a lot of feedback from companies and users about how they would like to see the File Manager work and what features they would like and we’ve used this feedback to make improvements, which are outlined below:
Large Layout in inline Mode
The File Manager layout is now larger in inline mode taking more advantage of the screen space.
The File Manager has been optimised for iPad / Tablet
A number of optimizations where done for working with the desktop Cloud File Manager on a tablet. The first is that it opens in full screen mode when being used on such devices. The second is that there are optimizations that make it easier to use such as being easily to widen / constrict the view on each pane. Also interactions have been optimized to work with touch events. The selection of files has also been made easier with checkbox selection options (these selection options are also available when using the FM from a PC).
Easier File Selection
A lot of feedback has been made to us about making file selection easier. To that end we have made it easier to select files by using a checkbox paradigm. Check boxes appear so that a file can be selected when the mouse is placed at the left hand side of a file.
Image thumbnails can now be previewed as the File Manager is browsed.
The File Manager now contains help guides showing how to action the most common functions such as copy/paste:
Default PDF Viewer is now native
The default PDF viewer is now a native viewer rather than Google Viewer (although Google Viewer can still be used and be setup to be the default). This means the viewer sandboxes any data viewed in this way just to the SME service.
New Themes / Custom Themes
There are two new large themes for the File Manager a blue theme and a normal theme. The existing themes have been rename to “tiny”. Also now, for Appliance users, custom themes can be created. This will be available in the next Appliance version.
The File timestamp to be used can now be selected
As SME is an abstraction between the remote cloud it works with more than one timestamp. Firstly it has its own concept of time, based on UTC, as to when a timestamp was modified through the SME service. Next it handles what the timestamp shows on the remote cloud service, and lastly it can show the local file time of a file uploaded to a remote service via SME (this may be different to the remote cloud time as some cloud services ignore the local file time and simply timestamp the file at the time it was uploaded to their service). Although all three are handled the user can now set which they want shown by default.
Edit on Hover
When hovering on a file, certain options are displayed for easy access. This has been enhanced so that files that can be edited, such as documents, text files etc can be edited by clicking the edit icon on hover.
Comments view is now collaborative / real time
When working in full file / comments view, if another user is also reviewing the same file and making comments then the comments will appear in real-time like an instant message
The File Manager now features an inline folder search (rather than having to move out to the tabbed search). This is a quick search mechanism to search for files in folders and sub folders.
Favourites and Quick Upload placed at top of file tree
Favourites and Quick uploads have been placed at the top of the file tree for easy access. These can also be configured to be hidden.
New way to copy / move files
Copy and Move can still be done by selecting files and drag and drop but now there are buttons and a wizard to make copy and moving files between folders or cloud services even easier.
There are also other numerous small changes and bug fixes but this post highlights the main functional changes.
We quite often assume that when working with Cloud data it will be from the web or from mobile “on the go” devices. To be fair this can often be the majority of cases, but the Enterprise throws up all sorts of different use cases and I thought it would be useful to go over one of the more esoteric ones.
One of the customers that use the Storage Made Easy on-premise Enterprise File Share and Sync Cloud Control product is a medical company. They use the SME product as a hybrid on-premise cloud product that is able to offer storage locally and on Amazon S3. Both sets of storage use the Amazon S3 API. The SME Appliance is able to make local storage accessible over an S3 compatible API and then off-board this storage to Amazon S3 as required. This meant that the companies scripts and applications could easily work locally and with Amazon S3 with very minimal configuration changes.
Their field staff quite often find themselves in a situation where, when working remotely, their only means of access is using a terminal ie. there is no direct web access and mobile devices are blocked and cannot be turned on. In the past this meant that the consultant used to carry around CD’s / DVD’s in which information that may be required is burned off.
The consultants did however have direct access to terminals which were internet enabled. As the SME EFSS product also include a protocol gateway this mean it was possible to get direct terminal access to remote files using SFTP.
As the SME EFSS Gateway product integrated with the companies Active Directory services then terminal access was still using Single Sign On and the Active Directory credentials for each user access
User access can be obtained directly from the command line as per the example below..
Once authenticated the user can do a simple “ls” to get a file listing.
Once connected the view of the folder/files is available and can be worked with via the command line.
All access to the files are also logged and audited, including the username, the IP address and the types of interactions occurring, all part of a the HIPPA compliant process the customer implements. These reports can be exported and made available in excel to any compliance officer.
Secure access to files and data can take many forms and in the Enterprise the edge cases also need to be catered for as well as the more common access use cases.
Midnight Commander is probably the most popular command line file manager in the world, and certainly for Linux distros. Its design was initially inspired by the classic two pane interface that was found in Norton Commander which was a DOS file manager (for those who remember !).
One of the unsung features of the Midnight Commander (also available on other platforms including phones (I used to use this on my old Nokia N900) and windows and mac) is that it can connect to server over FTP.
This is interesting from a Storage Made Easy viewpoint as although SME providers a full suite of Linux tools, SME also provider protocol interoperability as part of its Cloud Gateway features. What is this I hear you ask ? Well, simply put, it enables files you have stored on public or private storage to be accessible over any of the protocols Storage Made Easy exposes ie FTP, FTPS, WebDav, S3, SFTP.
Midnight Commander supports the FTP protocol which makes it easy to get direct access to any storage that is added to a SME Account using the SME FTP cloud protocol adaptor. To do this:
Choose the Left or Right option
Choose FTP link
Enter connection to SME as follows:
or if you are using the SME EU Server:
The net result is a very easy way to bring the cloud into the linux desktop integrated with tools you already know and use. This can be used with the SME Personal CLoud plan, Business Team, and on-site enterprise editions of the product.by
Document control and management is of vital importance to any organization. If sensitive information is sent outside of your company, once the documents have been sent electronically, control is lost and this can put files you shared at risk. They can be copied or forwarded anywhere in the world, in seconds.
For most businesses, the focus of their attention is on document management and on the organizational workflow and the storage of documents. Companies want to be able to integrate documents into a workflow and store documents in an organized and secure way that still allows documents to be found easily . Where the document is stored can frequently change. It could be SharePoint, it could be FTP, it could be on some external repository etc. Where the security process can fall down is when documents are shared externally or how they are available to be collaborated on.
The proliferation of employees bringing there own devices to work (BYOD and BYOC) and using preferred SaaS applications of their own choosing has led to corporate governance becoming even more of a challenge for those tasked with its enforcement as an increasing number of end users bypass corporate protocol.
Such ‘Shadow IT‘ can pose a significant security risk, as unapproved hardware and software that are used do not undergo the necessary security checks and the storage and dissemination of such documents is outside of corporate control.
Storage Made Easy provides a unified Enterprise File Share and Sync solution, which works with a companies existing private and public data, presenting these files in a unified view.. It enables enterprises to not only securely sync, but also to securely share and work with files, wherever they need to go, even on devices that are beyond IT’s control.
IT benefits from a solution that gives them control, and users benefit as they have automatic access to documents and files from multiple data repositories, with robust security wherever behind the corporate firewall, or using any tablet, smartphone or PC.
Storage Made Easy uniquely provides:
• The ability to view, annotate, edit and sync almost any cloud or private file from almost any storage to any device.
• Internal and external collaboration features to work securely with anyone without losing control of enterprise data.
• Complete audit tracking to ascertain who accessed files, where form, and what action was taken.
• Provides a secure way for the organizations to collaborate with external partners using business workspaces.
• GEO Restrictions – restrict access to documents by IP address and by client. For example let an external sub office only have access to a folder from a specific IP address from the web browser (or any other client you nominate).
• Full Bring Your Own Device Support to restrict access to by employees by device type.
• Sophisticated permissions that unify permissions to different back end document storage and which can also be used with Active Directory or LDAP
• A way to solve the “DropBox” “bring your own cloud” problem be auditing such clouds even when documents are uploaded direct.
• A way to encrypt files stored on remote clouds which a key that is stored behind the corporate firewall this protecting remote sensitive data.
In summary you do not have to choose between a homogenous and restrictive system or a lawless fenzy of different unapproved systems. The Storage Made Easy Enterprise file share and sync solution is storage agnostic. It is compatible with most private or public file sharing cloud data stores allowing users to continue using their preferred cloud storage provider while at the same time converging off-site and on–site private and public data. This allows a centralized point for corporate governance, thus providing a real solution to the Shadow IT and corporate governance problem.by
Storage Made Easy have now made live a new SFTP protocol adaptor. SFTP is one of the two primary technologies for secure FTP networking, the other being FTPS, which Storage Made Easy already supports (along with FTP, WebDav, Secure WebDav and S3).
The primary reason we investigated implementing SFTP is due to a government POC in which access was required to secure AWSGov Cloud files from medical terminals. This was the primary requirement, but because Storage Made Easy works with almost any back-end Cloud. once added, it can be used as protocol gateway for any cloud mapped to an account, note that the Port is 2200
Below is an example of using the SFTP protocol to access a Storage Made Easy account using Transmit (a Mac App).
Once connected, all data and mapped clouds are accessible.
Access can also be done directly from the command line.
Once connected we can do an ‘ls’ to get a file listing and the view of the files is similar to our earlier UI view.
To find out more about the SME protocol gateway feature that is part of the SME solution please check out the below video.
SaaS access to FTP (for business plan users) can be achieved using the following URL’s: