New Research points to Data Deluge

A recent study by the University of California in San Diego called “How much information?” points to the speed of modern life as being 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words per day.

Due to emails, texting, internet surfing, RSS, reading, and other media we are being deluged by more and more information, in fact the equivalence of 34 gigabytes of information each day.

Here at SMEStorage, we are not surprised. We see and hear everyday from our users how much information they have to process and store. This information is not stored in one place. It is in email, in instant messages, on social sites, on different free storage clouds, on RSS and more.

It was this realisation that led to us creating our virtualised cloud storage platform which ties together a view of data held on email, data clouds, and social storage clouds, enabling you to view, manage, and share this data from one file tree.

It is clear that the volume of data a user has access to and has to manage will only get worse, not better. To this end, our comittment is that we will continue to broaden our services to support more data, social, and other more non traditional data stores.

We’ll continue to provide innovative features and services, such as our unique Cloud-to-Cloud sync, and we have some great things coming up for 2010, so watch this space !

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Joomla multi-cloud files sharing Plug-in: Share your cloud files from S3, Cloud Files, Box.net, MobileMe, SkyDrive + more

Similar to the WordPress plug-in we released that enables you to share files stored on various cloud files, we have also now done a similar plug-in for Joomla. The plug-in will enable you to share  your cloud files on your Joomla site.


How does this work ? SMEStorage provides a  gateway in which we sync your file meta-data but all files continue to reside on your storage platform. In this way we are able to offer value added services and clients to your existing storage provider, and provide a single cloud file system which enables you to manage all you files in one file tree.


One of the many value added services we provide is the ability to share files. There are many ways to do this, including RSS, email, Twitter, URL with Private contacts etc, and the Joomla plug-in is now another way.  Also note that files that have been made public, and can therefore be shared on Joomla, can still be encrypted, so you can have private files publically available that you can choose ony to share with your userbase.


To get started, download and install the plug-in, and then register for an account on SMEStorage. Select the account that matches your cloud provider. In the process of setting your account up you will do a file meta-data sync and your files will then be available in the Cloud File Manager. From the File manager you can choose to make the file public. This post steps through how to do just that. Once the file is public you can choose to make it visibile on your Joomla site.


If you want to encrypt your files then upload them via SMEStorage to your cloud provider of choice and choose encryption at the point of upload. Don’t worry if your underlhying cloud provider does not support encryption it does not need to. Remember your password for the file though as we don’t keep it ! Once the file is uploaded to your cloud provider via the SMEStorage cloud gateway you can make it public and it will be available just like any other file.

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Integrating SME multi-cloud API with Simple Cloud API from Zend

We were excited when we read about the Simple Cloud API from Zend. An interoperable Cloud API accessible via PHP was something we were keen to see if we could integrate it’s storage API with our own Multi-Cloud API which is based on REST but which has different language examples and bindings, including PHP.


After examining the SimpleCloud API it is clear to us that the storage API piece, as is, was limited compared to our own multi-cloud storage API whose aim is to provide an abstraction layer with file system functionality coupled with service functionality, such as the ability to backup email, backup contacts from social clouds, provide cloud sync and failover capabilities, encryption facilities etc. The Simple Cloud API is focused on providing access to clouds, with simple Create, Read, Delete functionality, and does not necessarily abstract the way the clouds are accessed or manipulated. 


There are two ways in which we could integrate with Zend. We could take advantage of their libraries to add support for clouds supported by the SimpleCloud API that we do not support, or we could integrate in a way that enables the SimpleCloud API to take advantage of the 10 plus clouds we support, by providing our own SimpleCloud SMEStorage plug-in.


It looks as there will be a fair bit of work to take advantage of the SimpleCloud API in our architecture.  The Current version of the SimpleCloud API doesn’t allow the streaming downloading of files. This would require us to create a set of classes that will extend the Simple Cloud classes and would have new methods related to streaming downloading and other methods that will return some information to use with streaming upload. There are other issues also, such as limitations on listing all buckets in S3. It only works with the bucket that the user provides in the settings.


Despite all of this the SImpleCloud API will be here to stay so we intend to move forward with our integration to it, and it is on our roadmap. 


Stay tuned !

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SME Cloud Storage API now supports Microsoft Live SkyDrive

One of the added benefits of the Microsoft Live SkyDrive support that we recently announced is thatit becomes accessible via the SMEStorage rich multi-cloud API becomes available for developers who want to access Microsoft Live SkyDrive programmtically. On the API’s Google Code site, as well as a detailed manual, there are PHP, PERL, and .Net examples and sample applications, and soon there will follow fully featured .Net & Cocoa libraries. Remember also, that the sames API also supports Amazon S3, Box.net, RackSpace Cloud Files, MobileMe, WebDav, Gmail Clouds, Email Clouds, FTP Clouds as well as Google Docs and Evernote. Expect to see support for at least two more storage clouds before the end of the year.


Many of the above storage clouds not only lack a proper file system (file support, but no folders, with only basic operations) but some, such as MobileMe, SkyDrive, GMail etc, lack any sort of API at all. That’s why we built the SMEStorage Multi-Cloud File System. We built it to enable us to have a universal API to support the storage clouds we plugged into our platform for our own purposes. Indeed it is what all our client tools are based on.


Given that is it is proven and more feature rich than the alternatives we made the decision to make it available as a generic storage cloud API for those wishing to use the SMEStorage platform as a Gateway to support multiple Cloud platforms in their applications or services. It supports multiple connections and multiple users and it does not impact the actual files themsevles as they are still stored on the original cloud service. SMEStorage merely keeps information about the metadata of the files and enables a file system, with services, on top of the remote storage cloud.


In the case of SkyDrive the lack of an API means our implementation is tightly coupled to Microsoft’s web implementation. Any major changes could render the API temporarily inoperable, but we are committed to make the necessary changes to continue support of this Cloud Provider as we move forward in our pursuit of supporting all major storage clouds.

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SME release WordPress multi-cloud Backup Plug-In

We’ve now released a WordPress multi-cloud backup plug-in which can be downloaded at the WordPress Plug-ins directory. This add-in enables you to backup your WordPress Blog tables to your primary supported backup cloud. We currently support Amazon S3, Mosso Cloud Files, MobileMe, Box.net, GMail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, FTP-as-a-Cloud, Microsoft Live SkyDrive, and any WebDav enabled cloud.


SMEStorage functions as an abstraction that enables you to work with any of these clouds. Your files remain stored on your cloud provider and the value we bring is that we build a sophisticated file system with additional cloud services on top of your current cloud storage provider. This is exposed using our multi-cloud API, and enables us to bring value added services, such as the WordPress multi-cloud Backup Plug-In. 


Once you have registered for a SMEStorage account (and there are many free plans) all you do is install the plug-in, go to Tools->Backup from WordPress Admin, enter your SMEStorage log-in details, ensure the plug-in is set to backup to SMEStorage rather than to email or file, and click ‘Backup’. The Backup will then run and your Backup can be found in the root node, “All Files” in your SMEStorage Cloud File System.


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SME now supports over 10 clouds – Microsoft Live SkyDrive support announced

Today we have added beta support for another storage cloud, Microsoft Live SkyDrive. This now makes over 10 clouds that we support:

Amazon S3, RackSpace CloudFiles, Box.net, MobileMe, FTP-as-a-Cloud, Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, WebDav, Google Docs, and Evernote.

Microsoft Live SkyDrive provides support for a whopping 25 GB of Storage. To access it you need a Microsoft Live ID for authentication.

ms-live-skydrive

If you use Microsoft LiveSkyDrive via SMEStorage, SkyDrive continues to host your files and SMEStorage syncs the meta information about the file and you are able to access, upload and work with your files  through our variety of clients ,which include an Iphone client, iGoogle, Facebook, Firefox, Windows suite of tools, MS Office Plug-Ins, and Open Office plug-ins.

If you sign-up to our life-time cloud package you get access up to 10 clouds which you can use together and manage your files in a cloud-enabled file system that displays on which cloud your files are stored. Any files or folders that you upload directly from SMEStorage are uploaded directly to your primary cloud provider, which you can change either using My Account->Cloud Providers or via the windows tooling.

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Use your Google Apps Cloud Email to store, share, and manage files

One of the most requested features from users was to support Google Apps email accounts for file storage as we do with GMail. To that end we have upgraded our base Gmail provider so that it provides support for storing  files on Google Apps on email as it also does with normal email accounts.


It’s is very easy to sign up and start using this:


1. Register at SMEStorage


2. When you have registered, login and enter the Gmail account username and password you wish to use


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3. Choose whether to save the username and password or enter it each time you use SMEStorage on a session basis.


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4. You can now upload files through SMEStorage to Gmail. At this point you can choose to encrypt the files using a private encyrption key that only know (it is not save).


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5. You can see these file in SMEStorage with a ‘G’ to designate they are stored on Google


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6. If you now click on the file you can download it, get a unique url for it, or, as this is an image file, you can choose to view it, or edit it with Picnik. If the file was an MP3, you chould choose to stream it and listen to it from the browser, or if was an office file you could choose to view or edit it via Zoho online office. You can also decide to make the file a ‘public file’ which will result in the file being able to shared via RSS or Facebook, or you can set workflow rules against the file.


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6. If you login to you email account you will see the file


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7. If you view the individual email you will see file details. The filename becomes a subject in the email so it makese files easy to locate if you are using GMail search tools.


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You can also use other SMEStorage client tools to work with your application including windows tools, a Firefox plug-in, iGoogle and iPhone web applications etc.

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The need for a multi-cloud storage API

photo-2During a lightening talk at London CloudCamp we talked about the need for a multi-cloud storage API (slides below). We then presented the options currently available, and of course the SMEStorage multi-cloud API is one of several. We do believe we bring some nice things to the table with out API which include:


– REST based providing an SPI to multiple clouds
– Provides value added services over and above just upload/dowload, and file system view. There are too many to list, but these include file encryption, Email backup, ETL from one cloud to another cloud, content filtering, faxing and much, much more
– Ability to provide a single view of disparate data in different clouds – a cloud data unification within a single file system view. 


If you are a developer take the time to check out the API and let us know how we can do more to help and what features you are looking for.

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Multi Cloud Storage API Updated

We have just update our multi-cloud API manual and published it on Google Code. We also have added some more code examples in PHP to supplement those in .Net, and added a PERL libaray example with a test PERL app as well.

The multi-cloud API now supports Amazon S3, RackSpace Cloud Files, Box.net, MobileME, Gmail, Any Email, FTP, Google Docs, Evernote, and any WebDav enabled cloud. Coming soon will be Microsoft SkyDrive, Twitter, Deicious, and Walrus from Eucalyptus.

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Multi-Cloud Storage Firefox Plug-In

The new version of the Firefox uploader for SMEStorage is now available. It has a number of new features, one of which is the support for Multi-Cloud Providers directly within the Plug-In itself. If you have a Lifetime Cloud or Organisation Cloud account, this means that you can change between using 9+ Storage Clouds when uploading files simply at the click of a button.

The number of Clouds that the Plug-In works with is Amazon S3, Mosso Cloud Files, Box.net, MobileMe, WebDav Clouds, Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, FTP-as-a-Cloud.

firefox-multi-providers

Other new features include:

Obtaining file url’s from directly within the plug-in, and also sharing files with Twitter from directly within the plug-in (providing you have added your Twitter details to your account).

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The Firefox plug-in also now shows the special folders that can be setup through the website i.e. shared folders (designated by a red square around the folder) and also Organisation Folders if you are using an Organisation Cloud Account.

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If you have thousands of files in your storage cloud then you will appreciate ‘Filter’ which allows you to filter the files viewed by either Alphanumeric values, string values or by range.

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Lastly, collaborative business groups can now be viewed and managed with the plug-in:

firefox-_groups

A SMEStorage Account is needed to use the plug-in. The help documentation for the plug in can be found here.

The Firefox Plug-In is another example of what can be achieved with the SMEStorage multi-cloud API.

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Back up your contacts to the Cloud(s)

As part of some new changes on the SMEStorage web platform (more of those in the next post) we have introduced contacts as data that you can back up to the cloud platforms we support.


In the SMEStorage explorer bar you will now see a Contact root Node:


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When you click on this node you will see two new icons in your SMEStorage explorer Bar:


contactbar


The first icon gives you the ability to backup contacts from over 50 email and social sites that provide contacts:


contact-providers


Once your contacts are imported (and you can back them up to any cloud that we support (which includes Amazon S3, Mosso Cloud Files, Box.net, Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, FTP-as-a-Cloud, MobileMe, and any WebDav enabled cloud) they are stored as VCard files, and as they are treated as files you can mark them as favourites, share them over email, or Twitter etc.


You can also edit each contact and add extra information or more fields:


editcontact


Once your contacts are imported you can create contact groups and sub groups and organise your contacts. All your contacts and contact groups are integrated into the site so if you want to share files over email or from business groups when you start typing the first letters your contacts will popup for your to insert.


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Multi-Cloud Storage API

All our client tools are developed using the SMEStorage Multi-Cloud API. It has been used to develop our iphone web client, Windows Tooling, Firefox plug-in, iGoogle Widget, Facebook Widget and more. It provides an abstraction against several storage clouds and features:


– File like system for manipulation
– Services, such as Email Backup, Send to Twitter, Create Business Collaboration group, email share, and many more


The API manual can be downloaded from Google Code and it is our intention to keep providing code examples. Currently on the site there is a .Net code example for creating a MS Office toolbar plug-iin which will work against all the clouds SMEStorage support. We will follow this soon with PHP examples and XCode / Cocoa examples.

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