New Storage Made Easy Google Chrome Cloud Unifier File Manager Extension

We’ve added a new Storage Made Easy Chrome extension to the Chrome Web Store. The sole function of this extension is to enable auto-login and launch of the SME Web File Manager for quick access.

The SME Web File Manager is a hierarchical file manager which makes it ideal to deal with large data set and also data from different on-premise or public cloud storage, which are unified in the file tree. A Storage Made Easy Account is needed but a free account can be signed up directly from the extension.

The reason for this extension was to make it a lot easier for users to be able to gain access to the Web Cloud File Manager for one of our business customers who had equipped their salesforce with Chromebook Pixel’s.

The Web File Manager enabled them to have a workflow which included editing and commenting of documents directly from the Chromebook on various clouds that they used which includes BaseCamp and Amazon S3.

The extension can also be used for securely sharing files which include setting passwords on files and/or time expiry.

The web file manager, from a single user perspective provides a very nice way to work with data between cloud providers and even collaborate with other people using Business Group WorkSpaces. For business users it provides a complete collaboration environment between user which includes files editing, file commenting, file versioning and file locking.

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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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How to password protect public cloud files for almost any public Cloud Storage

For over 2 years now we have had the Public Files page. When users sets a file public from any of the 35+ information Clouds they have mapped to their account then it is displayed on this public files page.  Users have always been able to make such files password protected by encrypting the files on upload through our platform, but we have had feedback that what users really wanted was the ability to have any files on this page password protected, whether they were uploaded as encrypted files or not.

We’ve now added this change to the service. To take advantage of it all that needs to be done is to assign a password to the public files page from your Cloud DashBoard after login to the web. This can be set under the “extended options” section (at the bottom of the DashBoard).

Password protect public files

Setting files to be public is easy, just right click on the file from the web and choose to make the file public:

Other desktop and mobile clients also enable files to be set as public, as in the Android example below:

Once files are set public they appear on the public files page that each user account has:

These files are also available as an RSS feed that can added to the foot of an email for example, or as a an iPhone App:

Once a file is then accessed when public file sharing is turned on then the user is redirected to a password page  when they try to access any file from the public files page:

This feature works across files from any Cloud and indeed Cloud Files from different clouds can be shared and protected from the same page in this way.

Business Cloud File Server users can take advantage of this or turn off file sharing completely for their users.

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Cloud File Manager for Windows Phone updated: Unify access to your Cloud Files

We recently updated The Windows Phone Cloud File Manager. Features include:

– Instant access to unified Cloud files anytime, anywhere direct from a WP7 device.

– Assign lengthy tasks and operations to the SME Platform Tasks Engine (PTE). Use your phone while tasks are completed in background. Check progress at anytime in cloud tasks.

– Manage multiple Clouds in a single view. Easily move files between different clouds, done in background.

– Advanced Cloud Search feature that can search for files across multiple clouds.

– Unique Cloud Clipboard feature enables file management from different clouds in batches, without downloading & then uploading.

– Unique Direct Upload uploads files from web directly, no need to download and then upload, just enter file address and our servers will upload it in background.

– Open files in the phone in Microsoft Office, MediaPlayer etc.

– Share and collaborate – share files to social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Windows Live, etc.), over email or with users groups.

– Record audio (even with screen locked), take notes and 2-way sync with chosen Cloud(s). No need for another recording App.

– 2-way sync pictures with different Clouds. Integrated with Pictures hub. Pictures can be uploaded (shared) directly from the hub.

We have seen a recent surge in business customers wanting to use the Windows Phone with our Cloud File Server SaaS and hosted hybrid appliance and expect this to continue with the recently announced windows phone business features.

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Linux Cloud Tools updated to 3.0.12

We’ve updated our Linux Cloud Tools to 3.0.12. The changes include:

1. Supports deleting of files during sync

If a user deletes files locally and syncs then the files will be deleted on the server. If a user  deletes files on the server and then syncs then files will be deleted locally. These 2 options are ‘Off’ by default. and can be turned on in settings of the sync center.

2. In Ubuntu 11.10+ “Hide in tray” works correctly.

3. Fixed Menu duplication

4. Fix for large fonts bug.

5. In Explorer new option to upload folder (previously only individual files were possible to upload).

6. Fixed bug with trash in explorer (not all files from trash were displayed)

7. Sync center works as per other OS sync tooling.  The “My syncs” folder concept is not used any more and desktop to different cloud folders can be mapped. ie. any folder can now be nominated for sync.  The free version has a restriction of 3 folders that can be sync’d

8. Encryption now supported (only for Personal Cloud or Business Cloud users.). In the Properties window it is possible to set a password for encryption of files during sync.

9. Small fix for Properties window for small screens. Scrolling works correctly now.

The Linux Cloud Tools can be used with the following Clouds:

Google Docs, Google Storage, Google Sites,
Amazon S3, MobileMe, Microsoft Live Mesh (read only),
Microsoft SkyDrive, DropBox, Azure Blob Storage,
Box.net, RackSpace Cloud Files, OpenStack Swift,
Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, Mezeo,
HP Object Cloud Storage, S3 compliant Clouds such as (Eucalyptus Walrus),
Ubuntu One Cloud, iKeepinCloud, PogoPlug,
BaseCamp SaaS Service, IBM Connections Files,
EMC Atmos, Office365, SharePoint, CloudMe,
HostingSolutions.it, Scality, Alfresco (on-premise),
Zimbra Briefcase, SafeSync(WebDav enabled),
FilesAnywhere (WebDav enabled), and any WebDav enabled Cloud.

The tools can be downloaded from the Linux Cloud Tools Page.

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How to sync files from Google Docs, SkyDrive, S3 and other Clouds with your BlackBerry Playbook

As we recently posted details about our HTML5 client for the BlackBerry Playbook we thought it would be useful to outline how you can sync files from any number of Clouds with your Playbook.

For this walk through we will be using a third party tool for the Playbook called Mobile FTP and the SMEStorage CloudFTP protocol adaptor. This solution will work with any free, personal or business Cloud File Server Account that has the Protocol Adaptor added to their account.

First purchase the Mobile FTP App for your Playbook and install it (t is £1.00)

Next setup the SME CloudFTP protocol adaptor connection in the App. This enables the SMEStorage Clouds you have mapped to your account to be accessible over FTP even if they don’t natively support FTP.

This will result in a new bookmark called SME FTP

At this point all your files are acessible through MobileFTP on the Playbook simply by selecting the bookmark and connecting

You can download files or upload them to the various cloud using the Mobile FTP App

Now we will set up Sync. First we need to create a bookmark of the directory we wish to sync within the Mobile FTP App. We wil choose a folder called ‘Android Docs’ that is hosted on Google Docs.

We will name the Bookmark “Docs to Sync”.

Now we’ll go back to the root of the Mobile FTP and edit the Sync example to change it for sync bookmark we just created:

We changed the name to “SME Sync GDocs” and chose the boomarked directory “Docs to Sync” as the directory to sync with the root of the SD Card. Now we can simply run the sync.

Once the sync is completed the nested directory structure and files are available from the SD card on the Playbook. We can re-run the sync when we wish to pick up any changes, and we can add as many sync profiles, to as many different clouds, as we wish.

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HTML5 Cloud FIle Manager for over 35 Storage Clouds for Playbook and other webkit browsers

As part of the platform update I blogged about in the last post we have have released a new HTML5 App for BlackBerry Playbook, that is optimised for webkit browsers.

It is able to access, unify, and manage clouds from over 35 Cloud Storage and SaaS services. It supports upload, where webkit browsers enable access to the file system, such as the Playbook and the Android, and it supports url generation for files, managed file sharing by expiry, as well as cross cloud search.



We also put together a short video to demonstrate how it works.



The Mobile App can be found at http://storagemadeeasy.com/mobile

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Integrating iAnnotate with Google Drive, Amazon S3, OpenStack, and other Cloud Storage solutions

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 SME ClouDav Protocol Adaptor, free with the iOS SME iOS App, to connect iAnnotate to many Clouds that it does not natively support. SMES supports integration with more Storage and SaaS Clouds than any other service.

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

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CloudDav is enabled with all Business Cloud File Server Accounts and also available in the on-premise enterprise version of the Storage Made Easy EFSS solution.

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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.storagemadeeasy.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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Cloud Computing Case Study: Google Docs continuous backup / sync to DropBox

We very often have businesses who want to keep files in sync between two clouds. This can be as simple as having a backup copy held between two providers in the cloud for continuous availability should one provider go down, or it could be due to a particular use case in which files need to be made available on two Clouds. In any case the request is a common enough for us to highlight it in our Cloud use cases section to show how this is easily achieved using the SME Open Cloud Platform.

We will look at providing a continuous backup / sync between Google Docs and DropBox, in which Google Docs is what we will refer to as the primary cloud, and DropBox will be the backup cloud. The first thing to note is that this option that we highlight below is only available to users who have a personal business or Cloud File Server account with us, and that it is available in our normal hosted offering as well as our appliance offering.

The guide to setup the continuous backup / sync are outlined step by step below:

1. Log into the personal business or Cloud File Server account either on the web or the appliance

2. Navigate to the “My DashBoard” link

3. Choose to add a new Backup provider and choose DropBox

4.  Authorise the DropBox account to be accessed

5. The DropBox OAuth screen will appear an you can sign into DropBox and choose to authorise access

6. The sync will now be kicked off an you will see the settings screen of the backup provider you just added.

7. If we now visit the dropbox account we can see a new folder called “My GMail files” has been created

8. If we look inside this folder we can see the files and folders  have been copied across

After the initial sync any news files that are uploaded direct to Google Docs via SME are also backed up to DropBox. Any files uploaded direct to Google Docs are uploaded to DropBox when SME discovers them either through you accessing your account if real-time update is enabled or by forcing a refresh between the SME meta-data and Google Docs. You are also able to control whether files are deleted on the backup if they are deleted on the primary from the settings page in step 6.

Although we used Google Docs to DropBox as an example this is equally applicable to any of the 35 clouds that SME supports, including private data to public clouds or vice-versa.

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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.storagemadeeasy.com‘ (EU Server) e.g my @endpoints = ( ‘s3.storagemadeeasy.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.storagemadeeasy.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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