How to use Twitter as an SMS event notification system for File sharing and priority email notifications

**This feature is now deprecated

One of the benefits of Twitter it it’s ability to generate events on messages and even more it’s ability to tie this to push, email and especially SMS notifications. In many ways you can craft solutions to use it as an SMS Gateway, and indeed there are a few innovative solutions that do just this.

We have implemented such a solution for event notifications with the SME Open Cloud File Server which unifies files from over 35 different public Storage Clouds and private on-premise files, whilst also providing security and audit services. In this post I’m going to step you through how the SME Twitter integration works.

All accounts, including the free accounts have the ability to use Twitter as an event notification for file share or file event notifications. The first step to using Twitter as an event notification system is to sign up for a Twitter Account and then integrate it with your SME Account. To integrate with SMEStorage take the following steps:

1. After login go to App integrations from the right sidebar.

2. Choose to sign in with Twitter using OAuth in which you enable interaction with your Twitter account without exposing your password:

3. Enter your Twitter username and password when Twitter pops the authenticate and allow access page.

4. Once this is done you will be returned to the SME site and you can choose how you wish to use Twitter with Storage Made Easy:

You can choose to use Twitter to share files and also for notifications.

Now before we show you how to use Twitter with Storage Made Easy, if you want to receive Twitter push notifications to your phone or messages as SMS, you need to map your cell phone to Twitter. To do this you need to login to you Twitter account and then click on the link that enables you to setup Twitter with our mobile phone:

This will take you to a page where you can enter your cell number and setup Twitter to work with your cell / mobile.

Once this is done you are all set, now we can explore how you can take advantage of the Twitter integration with Storage Made Easy:

The first way is that you can share file links directly on you Twitter account (be sure not to share copyrighted files as complaints can lead to account closure). You can do this from the website or client / mobile tools:

Now that Twitter is setup you will also receive notifications if a user shares a file with you from a business workspace or from a shared business folder. This gets sent as a Twitter direct message and therefore generates an SMS to your mobile device.

The other cool Twitter integration that Storage Made Easy provides is the ability to configure an email address which can be used to accept emails from nominated addresses. (to get access to this feature you have to add Twitter Notifications for emails from Cloud Apps after login to the SME website).

When those emails are received to the email configured from the nominated senders a Twitter Direct Message email is sent to the Twitter Account you integrated with SME. This DM contains who the email was from, and the subject line, and of course if you have Twitter setup with your cellphone as described above you will also get a realtime SMS alert when this is triggered.

What is this good for ? Well for file sharing, you get instantaneous notifications delivered over SMS. Also, if you have inbound emails that you want absolutely instant SMS notifications from then this works a treat as almost instantaneously as the email comes in you will get an SMS notification letting you know, so it is great for systems or Apps that generate real-time email alerts but have no SMS capability. Alternatively perhaps you configured the email to be a CC on some urgent email you want to receive. The possibilities for use are endless.

Storage Made Easy can also offer business customers of our Cloud File Server integrations with other SMS Gateways such as Twilio, Clikatell and BulkSMS.

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Manage and Sync with all your Cloud Services using Storage Made Easy’s iOS App

We’ve updated the Storage Made Easy iPad / iPhone App. As with all Storage Made Easy mobile clients, the App unifies public cloud services such as Box, SkyDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, Amazon S3 as well as private cloud services such as OpenStack, FTP(s), WebDav, Zimbra etc.

The App also features our innovative CloudDav feature. CloudDav enables WebDav across any Cloud that is mapped to the App. This then enables users to edit documents using any of their storage services with Doc editing Apps such as iWork, even if the native Cloud does not actually support WebDav.

This update includes a number of refinements and changing such as slight tweak to support the iPhone 5 screen resolution, and the release also extends the Business WorkSpaces feature. This feature lets users create Business WorkSpaces directly from the App and enables members of the group to share files securely with each other.

Cross Cloud Search is also a feature of the App. This means, for example, that if you need to search for files related to a a certain project keyword you can simply type the search terms and all the cloud data sources that you have mapped to the App will be searched and the aggregated results returned.

For the SME business SaaS and on-premise Appliance customers the integration of the SaaS and hybrid Appliance with on-premise Active Directory servers enables single sign-on as users can authenticate with their Active Directory username and passwords.

Some review comments taken from the App store reviews can be seen below:

“This app is a must have if you want to easily manage and have functionality between up to 3 cloud apps. SME is e a very advanced app. So far I’ve been able to download zip files from my email, un-zip (or in SME terminology unarchive) and send to any of my cloud accounts. I can transfer files between clouds from the app either by cloud copy or cloud cut, the later of which will move the file. There’s definitely a learning curve for the advanced features, but the ones I described are easy learn. SME has bar non the best tech support I’ve ever dealt with. On three occasions I needed help to learn the functions, and within 30 minutes tech support had my problem resolved. P.S. not being tech savvy the 3 problems were on my end. By far this is one of the best apps I’ve purchased. The functionality it provides the Pages App alone makes SME worth every penny.”

“Needed a WebDav solution for iWork apps in order to move files to and from the iPad. Dropbox does not support WebDav, iWork does not support Dropbox. iSMEStorage fills the void, providing WebDav services to Dropbox and many other cloud storage providers. Getting WebDav enabled via SME’s CloudDav was not as easy as it could have been, but SME Support was fantastic, getting me up and running on the weekend. All I can say is well done! Now I can move files on & off the iPad seamlessly. Very nice! Well worth the one time charge for the app.”

“First App I’ve used that lets me sync a few different folders on different clouds in one go, and editing files from clouds that iWork does not support is pretty cool however they manage to do it !”

“This is a great supplement for creating your own personal cloud service. Great!”

iSMEStorage from Storage Made Easy is available in the Apple App Store for iPad and iPhone users.

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SME has added support for 2 new Clouds: SugarSync and Ubuntu One Cloud

**Note that the Ubuntu One Cloud has subsequently been shut down

We’re happy to announce support for two new Cloud Providers that can be added, managed and governed from SMEStorage free, Personal or Business Account. These are SugarSync and the Ubuntu One Cloud. Both Clouds are available immediately and can be added to accounts from the web, mobile, or desktop clients.

The Ubuntu One Cloud and the SugarSync Cloud both provide 5GB free of storage and can be added from the your personal DashBoard.

SugarSync UbuntuOne SMEStorage

As with all Clouds added to a SME account,  these Clouds can be used with the SME Desktop clients (Windows, Mac, Linux), Mobile Clients (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone) and Protocol Adaptors (CloudDav, CloudFTP, S3 API).

The Clouds are also available for immediate use for business users within the SME Cloud File Server.

 

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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 federation and governance will dominate in 2012

It’s seasonally topical to write a blog post that will draw a close to the old year with some predictions for the New Year, so read on for a post that fits with that trend…

2011 has been an eventful year for SMEStorage. On the business side we have always been a privately owned self funded company. We have never been VC backed and we’re profitable and have needed to be to be self sufficient. To enable us to expand the founders took a decision to raise some money to enable the company to continue to grow and expand the company. To this end Vehera, the owning entity of SMEStorage sold a small amount of equity enabling Vehera to raise a million dollars to fund the companies push for 2012. This will give the ability to add some more staff to enable us to grow the opportunity we see for our technology with ISP’s and the Enterprise.

On the Technology front we continued building out our support for Cloud’s resulting in SMEStorage now supporting over 35 Storage and SaaS Clouds. We also released a native Windows Phone Client,and also the first versions of Mac and Linux Cloud Tools and we enhanced our native browser plug in’s with support for Google Chrome and Safari. We also enhanced our iOS App for iPhone and iPad many times over the course of the year as well as releasing a native Android client for Phones and tablets. In addition to all of this we also improved our core offering with a myriad of new features which included adding protocol adaptors that exposed Clouds mapped to SMEStorage over WebDav, FTP or the Amazon S3 API, even if the underlying Cloud does not natively support these protocols.

So what for 2012, well, firstly we’ll continue to add more services that can be federated and managed. Shortly we’ll be announcing support for SugarSync, and the UbuntuOne Cloud. We’ll also be adding services less traditionally associated with file stores. The first of these will be BaseCamp, which will be followed by some CRM SaaS services and we have in mind another project / collaboration SaaS tool.

We’ll also be adding even more Cloud governance and e-compliance features. If your interested on our take on Cloud Sprawl and governance please see our prior blog post on this subject.

We intend to push out our revised Cloud Appliance in early 2012. This will give any customer the ability to have a hybrid Cloud governance application that deals with Cloud and local data and service federation that they fully control and own. Customers will be able to host this in their own data centre as it will be available as a VMWare, XEN or KVM appliance. As an alternative we intend to enable easy access to an Amazon EC2 based instance. We also intend to make it easy for resellers to get their ands on it and offer it as a value add to their own business.

It’s our firm belief that with the greater adoption of Cloud, and the increasing array of Cloud Services that 2012 will be the year of Cloud Federation and governance as companies struggle to manage and control the Cloud services deployed in their organisation. We believe that with our advanced service features, comprehensive access clients, and Hybrid on-premise Cloud Appliance that we are well placed to help companies who struggle with these issues.

For general predictions, we’ll make just one, and that is that the “free lunch” is coming to an end. In a volatile economy services that offer “free” may look appealing, but all businesses need to make money to survive and free eventually needs to become paid, and companies need a solid business model to survive. Hoping to capitalise at some point on a large user base of free users is not a business plan. There is room for some element of freemium, we use it ourselves, but our belief is that it has to be underpinned by a solid business plan. If you’d like to read more about this, see this post which goes into a little more depth.

All that remains to be said is to wish you all a “Happy New Year” and we hope all your hopes and dreams are realised in the forthcoming year.

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We’ve upgraded our free Cloud package

 We’ve upgraded our free package ! As well as being able to add 1 free Cloud and getting 2GB storage for free hosted on Amazon S3, we’ve added the ability to add another Cloud, making two in total. This means you can have an extra 2GB of storage free on Amazon S3, as well as being able to add your DropBox, Box.net, Google Docs or any other Cloud from the 30+ we support, and  you can manage them in a unified view.

This applies to all users who register now, and also all existing users of the free package.

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Take back control of Cloud Sprawl and Governance in your Organisation

The proliferation of Cloud Storage and Cloud SaaS Services is both a blessing and a curse for businesses. In the past IT was able to control and lock down which applications and services could be used, but today services such as Box.net, and DropBox, and a host of others gives IT at best a headache and at worst a challenge that is a constantly moving target.

End users are also driving for use of such tools as they strive to increase personal productivity which the various SaaS services provide, and which IT would like to ban or lock down so they become the antithesis of what they were intended to be.

Even tools that are authorised by IT are not necessarily immune to this problem. What happened to that file link a user shared from SharePoint? Who opened it? Was it supposed to be shared?

Recent research commissioned by Opsview reveals 67 percent of UK IT decision-makers worry about how easy it is for their staffs to sign up and install cloud services. The survey also found that 76 per cent of IT directors admitted employees are likely to flout IT policies in order to make use of cloud services. This research was backed up by separate research conducted by Global Technology Provider Avanade in which it revealed the emergence of Cloud sprawl  had 67% of 600 executives interviewed in the UK were worried that the rapid adoption of publicly-available cloud services was putting their company at risk.

What is required is some form of Cloud Governance to give back control to IT whilst still enabling users to use tooling that makes them productive.

This is just one of the many things we’ve built into our cross Cloud File Server, the ability to govern and control Cloud Sprawl:

 

The ability for IT to take back control  means that they can more effectively control data compliance issue challenges presented by Cloud Services, as well as those more broadly presented by e-compliance. Widespread use of digital communication technology has led to companies facing a new types of challenge with regards to the management of privacy, consumer protection, Intellectual Property, and content governance.

Compliance issues are of course not the only issue companies face when it comes to distribution of digital informtion across Cloud Services. Information visibility is required across all these services when, for example, doing something as simple as a document search.

The SMEStorage Cloud File Server can be used as either a SaaS service or an onsite Cloud Appliance to address these issues. Firstly any Clouds or SaaS services added to the File Server have information indexed and recorded, and made available from a single unified explorer view. As users create anew content and upload it to any of the Cloud and SaaS services that have been added to the Cloud File Server, each service’s API is used to securely capture, store and index the files. Note that no content needs to be copied. All this is stored and accessed from the original repository.

File event logging can be set at a micro or macro level to record any file event from any user with related IP addresses and GEO Location information. This information provided an audit trail that can be filtered and stored:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also The Cloud File Server Admin can control which ‘private’ individual user clouds can be used or added within the Organisation. For example the Admin may decide to enable each user to add a Google Apps Docs Account and restrict all others, or may also enable users to  add personal DropBox accounts also. Any personal user Clouds that are added in this way can also be indexed, audited and file events recorded:


 
 
In addition to this any file uploaded has the GEO location recorded as to where it was uploaded from and where it was uploaded to, again for audit and compliance purposes. The integration of geolocation technology can also helps organizations restrict access to files or SaaS applications appropriately dependant on any data privacy or e-compliance law that differs or is required to be supported on a cross border basis.

The ability to index and record information from different Cloud Stores as described above also results in a powerful cross-cloud search capability, in which searches for content are made against all the Clouds that have been added, with results returned instantly.

In summary, unmanaged usage by company staff can not only lead to security issues for IT, such as incomplete or lost data, but can also lead to  potential breaches of corporate governance and regional data legislation rules. In addition it prevents companies from fully leveraging the cost savings that are associated with cloud computing, and ultimately can undermine such infrastructure adoption  by IT departments.

The SMEStorage Cloud File Server provides features that enable IT to:

  • Capture and Index SaaS and File Cloud Services

 

  • Provide event auditing with downloadable audit trail across all services added

 

  • Provide GEO restriction monitoring and filtering

 

  • Search across Clouds and Services for e-discovery needs and to promote information visibility and access

 

  • Use CloudSafe to backup content repositories to another Cloud for retention or backup purposes
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Turning a NetGear ReadyNas into a Cloud File Server with WebDav and SME

NetGear ReadyNAS is a fully featured NAS appliance for individuals and small businesses (SMB’s).

The ReadyNAS is a great way to store locally accessible content but it would be even better if you could get to that content when out of the office and on the road. Even better what if you could organise that content, assign which users can access which files remotely, set file access permissions, and more, in essence turning your ReadyNas into a private Cloud File Server.

Thankfully, the ReadyNAS supports WebDAV, or “Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning”, which is an an extension to HTTP that allows access to files remotely over HTTP or HTTPS. This enables you to map your ReadyNAS as a Private Cloud to SME This is a true Private Cloud in that your files do not need to be moved or synchronised anywhere else for this to work.

First you need to setup the ReadyNAS for WebDav. You can find a detailed guide on how to do that here.


Once this is done we can begin to add the The WebDav enabled ReadyNAS as a Mapped Private Cloud to SME.

To do this the first thing to do is setup an Account at StorageMadeEasy.com. We will be stepping through the setup of a Cloud File Server Account, but this will also work for free or personal accounts.

After creating an account (in this example a Cloud File Server Account) let’s first configure the WebDav connector to work with the ReadyNAS.

To do this navigate to ‘My DashBoard’ from the sidebar and choose to add a new WebDav Provider.


Choosing ‘Add Provider’ will take you to a screen where you can add the ReadyNAS WebDav provider details.


For the WebDav Server host enter the “IP Address (or DDNS name)/sharename” that you setup when getting your ReadyNAS for WebDav. For username and password use the same name and password that you use for accessing a share on your PC. Change the port to 443 as SSL is enabled. Enter the ReadyNAS share path that you previously entered.

Once done click ‘continue, and you will be prompted to sync the ReadyNAS file meta data from the share that you just created.

Once this is done your ReadyNAS device is available to be used as a CloudFile Server.


If you navigate to the file manager you will see the ReadyNAS files/folders from the share you created on the ReadyNAS:


As well as the ReadyNAS files we can also add other Cloud Files, from any of over 25 Cloud Storage Providers. In this case I’ll add Google Docs using the exactly same procedure as adding the WebDav provider we outlined earlier except this time I’ll choose the Google Docs Provider and step through that wizard. Once Added I’ll be able to add both sets of files in a virtual file tree:


This is now setup to be able to access files using iPhone / iPad, Android, Windows Mobile 7, BlackBerry or any of the Mac,Windows, and Linux desktop drives that SME Supports:


Now we’re ready to create some users. We can do this from our Web Dashboard:


Users login become <username>@<Cloud File Server name>. In this example we used marketing@ReadyNAS.

Once the users are setup we can add some shared Organisation Folders from the File Manager and then set some access permissions against them. These folders can be a mixture of folders that reside on the ReadyNAS or Google Docs, or indeed any other Cloud you have added.


The Cloud Admin can also enable users to be able to setup their own private Clouds with data only they have access to, for example Google Docs Apps accounts that are allocated to each user, or SkyDrive Accounts etc:


There are a myriad of file sharing options which include file links, file links with managed expiry, sharing with collaboration groups, making files public (and if required protecting them with passwords even if public). All these options are also available from mobile devices and tablets:


This is the end of the brief overview of setting up a ReadyNAS appliance to work with the SME Cloud file Server.

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Version 2.11 of iSMECloud File Manager for iPad and iPhone now in App Store

The latest version of the iSMEStorage Cloud File Manager for iPhone / iPad is now in the App Store. There are a host of new features including a re-designed workflow for easier Cloud Files (and local flies) interactions, a new PDF component that supports large PDF files, and support for OpenStack and Google Sites Clouds.

The below presentation showcases the Cloud File Manager for the iPad:

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