Covid-19 has shattered the normality we are all used to. Governments and health organisations are scrambling to try and control the virus at present. To prevent the spread of infection, different countries have been restricting movement to cope with the pandemic. The main rule, work from home where you can. Only travel if absolutely necessary. Now more than ever, the importance of remote working is crucial, not only to keep your business from staying afloat, but also to protect your staff, as well as others.
One difficult challenge for companies is enabling employees to have the same experience no matter where they are, whether they are working from home, in the office, or working whilst on-the-go, and irrespective of the operating system they are using, be this Windows or Mac OSX. CloudEdit is one feature of the File Fabric than can enable employees to achieve just this.
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.
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.
We have introduced a new feature into the Storage Made Easy platform which enables cloud users to share external folders to other users who will not need a SME Account to gain access to those folders. The feature enables the creation of a secure shared link that is password protected and can be time expired.
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.
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 File Fabric solution please check out the below video.
We have added a new feature to the Storage Made Easy platform, real time document collaboration. This is available for team account or Enterprise File Share and Sync on-premise users. It enables real time document editing between team members when online editing using the web document editor. It enables multiple users to open a document at the same time, and enables with everyone to contribute and/or review the document in real time.
This editing facility is available for any document in any cloud that is mapped to work with SME, be it public or private storage (for EFSS on-site users).
Many service providers and companies offer Remote Desktop Services to enable companies to access their desktop remotely. Applications are installed for the users where user settings and data are saved to their profile.
We’ve had a few requests from companies and service providers now who wanted users to easily be able to access data on remote clouds (such as Azure, DropBox, Box, FTP, WebDav, Sharepoint Amazon S3 etc) from a remote desktop.
With Storage Made Easy, this is easily done as SME presents a WebDav entry point to all clouds that SME supports whether they support WebDav or not. This means the service provider needs only co-locate the SME software appliance (supplied as an OVF compliant file) in their network and add a simple script to the users startup. The script it:
NET USE * \\webdav.storagemadeeasy.com@SSL\DavWWWRoot
This enables user to get a mapped drive to remote cloud storage as soon as they login to their remote desktop and to browse and access these files like any other data drive and is a simple solution for bringing remote clouds directly into a users remote desktop using a simple metaphor they understand, “a drive”.
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.
File Sharing is a key part of a companies ability to collaborate and share corporate data, which increasingly can be stored in many disparate services. The purpose of this post is to offer suggestion businesses should consider for their corporate file sharing strategy:
Many business just let employees share files with no control and no checks. This needs a policy. This is the businesses core asset and it needs to be protected and secure. Also, compliance and legislation of data is increasingly becoming important. The business needs to ensure it does not get caught in a compliance trap.
Point 1: Implement a control mechanism for your users. For example Storage Made Easy enables users to share files using links that can be password protected and in which the link can be set to expire. This protects against the user forwarding file. The file link can be set to expire on first download for example or set to download after 24 hours (or any other specified time period). If the file is password protected, even if the file is forwarded by the recipient then the file cannot be accessed unless the password is provided. A control mechanism promotes best practice security management of files and reduces operational risk.
Point 2: Point Solution or not ? Consider whether your strategy should be a point solution or whether it works with your existing data sets. Many vendors may purport to promote managed secure file sharing but often you find you have to move your data to their Cloud to have the solution work for you. Storage Made Easy works with private on-premise data, public cloud data such as DropBox, SkyDrive, Box etc and also with SaaS services such as BaseCamp. This promotes a ‘joined up’ strategy for company file sharing.
Point 3:Integrates with what you have ? Consider whether the solution works how you work so that it does not get in the way of business or productivity. For example Storage Made Easy integrates directly in the desktop as a network drive with simple right click options to share files. This behaviour supports Windows, Mac and Linux. Also integration has been done with other core business productivity tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Mac Mail to promote easy secure file sharing using links directly from the corporate mail client. Similar integrations exists for core productivity tools such as Microsoft Office and Open Office or Libre Office.
Point 4:Compliance, Compliance Compliance – Compliance is fast catching up with all verticals when it comes to storing and accessing corporate files off site. There is specific industry legislation related to this, such as HIPPA in healthcare and FERPA in education, but there are various legislation proposals being processed at various levels in the USA and EU and it is a safe bet that the ability to track historic file events will become more of a requirement not less of a one. Also for companies, the ability to search against historic file sharing or data access should be just part of an overall joined up corporate security policy.
Point 5: On-Premise, Hybrid or Cloud ? The last point is to do with implementation. You should be able to decide how you manage data or metadata associated with storing files and sharing files. This can be behind the corporate firewall, totally on Cloud., or some combination of both. The key word here is choice.
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.
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).
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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