The Storage Made Easy solution can be used for many functional use cases. One of these use cases which we will discuss in this blog post is that of a secure encrypted data room.
Storage Made Easy’s core product proposition is its Enterprise File Fabric product, which unifies an enterprise’s file storage – whether on-premises or in the cloud – providing federated policy and governance for corporate data.
Customers have asked us if we can break out our desktop apps so they can work directly against various enterprise storage products to satisfy lightweight and specific use cases. To that end we are releasing a range of Drives and Explorers that bring object storage directly to the end user’s desktop. There are versions of these tools for a variety of object storage providers such as Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Red Hat Ceph, Rackspace, Google Storage and others.
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 features
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.