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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Cloud Computing Use Case: Automating Website backup to Amazon S3 using Plesk

Continuing on our theme of presenting interesting use cases that we come across when dealing with customers and businesses, this one is to do with backing up data to Amazon S3 in an automated fashion using Plesk. This was the request from the company involved. The condition being that the control panel can only backup to an external server via FTP. There is no native way to back up to S3 via Plesk.

This of course is tailor made for our CloudFTP product which turns any Storage Cloud into an FTP Server even if the Storage Cloud does not support FTP. This works with any of the Clouds you add to a SME Account, and of course S3 is one of these.

To satisfy this use case, the first thing to do is ensure the relevant S3 account is added to your account. This can even be a free account. You can do this either as part of sign up or from the Cloud DashBoard.

SME Dashboard

 

 

 

Once you have added the S3 Provider You can add CloudFTP to your account from “Cloud Add On’s” available on the right sidebar after login to the website. Once this is added to your account you can access any Cloud mapped to your account over ftp (Ftp://ftp.storagemadeeasy.com) with your username and password as authentication. This works even though the underlying Cloud, in this case, S3 does not natively support the FTP protocol.

Once this is done you can then automate your website backups using Plesk and your recently created S3-FTP. First login to the Plesk Control Panel:

 

 

 

 

 

Next navigate to the correct domain:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and finally navigate to the Backup Manager:

 

 

 

 

 

from here you can select to backup to a personal FTP repository:

 

 

 

 

 

and then enter the StorageMadeEasy.com FTP settings as outlined earlier in the post:

 

 

 

 

 

The end result is your website backed up safely to S3 (or any other Cloud that we support that you can choose).

 

 

 

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Cloud Computing Use Case: Sharing PDF’s stored on SkyDrive with an “on the road” team using Galaxy Tab and iPad’s

Given the propensity for so many different use cases that using the Cloud with Files can come up with  we thought we’d start sharing some of the day-to-day use cases we deal with here on our blog.

This one is an inbound request in which a business has a series of PDF’s stored in a folder hierarchy on SkyDrive that they need to share with a distributed team that uses a combination of Galaxy Tab and iPad’s. The files need to be synchronised for offline use and the files can be updated each evening so the remote people need to be able to resync the files locally to get the latest versions for offline use.

Firstly lets address SlyDrive. In this event all the business needs to is to start using our Cloud File Server and add the SkyDrive Cloud to their account from the Cloud DashBoard.  This starts a wizard in which the user is stepped through adding the SkyDrive Cloud.

 

 

 

Once this is done the Business Admin of the Cloud File Server needs to convert the  folder containing the PDF’s into a shared Organization Folder. This means that any users that are added to the Cloud File Server will be able to see this folder.

The Business Cloud Admin can now choose to set the types of permissions that they wish to set on the folder (read only, etc).

 

 

 

 

Once this is done The Cloud Admin can add the users:

 

 

 

 

Now this is setup lets move to the tablet side. We’ll take the iPad first:

IPAD:

Each of the users that the Cloud File Server Admin added to the Cloud File Server can access their account using the iSMEStorage iPad App. once logged in they will be able to view files on the Cloud in a unique Cloud Files view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However as per the business requirements we need to be able to sync the folder that was shared containing PDF’s down to the device. To do this the user needs to visit that particular folder in the Cloud File Manager and nominate the folder for local sync.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once this is done the user can go to ‘My Syncs’ from the menu and action a sync which will download all the PDF’s locally. In future as the documents are updated overnight he just needs to visit My Syncs again and choose to resync which will download the newest files.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galaxy Tab:

As with the iPad the user needs to visit the PDF directory from the Cloud Files view and nominate the PDF folder for Sync in the SMEStorage Android App.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once this is done the user can return to My syncs, click on the directory and choose to sync. This will download the relevant PDF’s to the iPad. Again a sync can be done each day to update the latest files.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As there is less restriction on Android devices users can set the App to do a scheduled sync daily. Unfortunately this is not currently possible on the iPad.

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