My Favourite Feature: File Locking

SME File Locking IconMy name is Giada and I am Sales Director for Storage Made Easy.

One of the principles of the company is to work with the clients, understand their business and build a product that satisfy their needs by enhancing a feature-rich interface.  File locking is one of the most needed by organizations in today’s business environment. Users are constantly working on the same document and a restriction to file access is sometimes mandatory.

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Installing a Private Enterprise File Share and Sync Appliance on Windows Azure Compute Services

Azure-logo

This blog post is a technical post outlining the steps needed to deploy the Storage Made Easy Cloud Control Gateway and Enterprise File Share and Sync solution on the Azure IaaS compute infrastructure.

Storage Made Easy provides a private enterprise file share and sync solution that can not only be used with Azure Blob Storage Data but which can also be used as a cloud security point to secure other storage points or sync and share solutions, such as Office365 and SharePoint. We call this Cloud Control and you can read more about it here.

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OpenStack Swift Android App released

OpenStack Android

Storage Made Easy has been involved with OpenStack from the beginning. We were one of the early OpenStack company foundation members and our whole service has worked with OpenStack from the very beginning.

Storage Made Easy already supports OpenStack on Mac, Windows, Linux desktop’s and on iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android for our Cloud File Server Platform. Today we are please to announce another App for OpenStack. This time it is a stand-alone Android App that works independent of the SME Server and works solely against the OpenStack platform. It is available on the Google Play Store and is free for personal use and licensable for companies or ISP’s.

Unlike other Apps that have been release the App focuses on the Object Storage piece of OpenStack, Swift. It features:

– Add multiple OpenStack Swift Servers
– Upload, download , delete, rename, copy, move files / folders and create new folders
– Sort files by name, date or size
– View downloaded files with associated Apps
– Built in streamer for music and video files
– Thumbnail view of picture on local files prior to upload so no need to open.
– Email local files as attachments and web files as URL’s
– Add pin lock to lock app

OpenStack Swift XPlorerConnect to Swift Storage

OpenStack Android AppOpenStack Apps

OpenStack  Swift File Sharing

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5 ways uncontrolled file sharing can hurt your business

uncontrolled file sharing

1. Unknown sensitive company information leaked

Not knowing what potentially sensitive company information is being shared can have a big effect on your Company. Sharing sensitive product designs, customer information, financial information etc can have a direct negative effect that may not be seen but will be felt.

Storage Made Easy provides policies that operate above all private and cloud data and enables policies to be set that incorporate time expiry and password protections inclusive of audit tracking and GEO location restrictions.

2. Data Breach

There is an increasing amount of privacy legislation that a company has to adhere to, such as HIPPA, FIPS, European privacy legislation. Not controlling the flow of information can result in severe financial penalties, or worse, jail.

3. Sensitive data on non company data services

The rise of Bring your Own Cloud within companies can result in corporate data being stored on unsecure services that can be breached and are outside of the control of corporate IT.

With Storage Made Easy on-site Cloud Control Appliance companies have a universal policy control gateway which can be used to control access to Bring your Own Cloud environment such as DropBox. This includes browser, mobile or API access to such services. This gives enterprises a single platform to securely manage and protect file sharing by centrally enforcing corporate policy on Bring Your Own Cloud data flows.

4. Slow Network / Reduced Quality of Service

Users tend to share files in companies. Once the file is shared it can be forward by the recipient anywhere. This touches upon point 1 of uncontrolled file sharing. Users should be sharing links not files so they can be tracked and controlled. There is another benefit of this which is to do with the network congestion that occurs inside of companies and this network congestion.

Lots of people sharing similar large files can lead to network congestion inside of a company which can not only be costly to productivity, it can be costly to the company as more bandwidth is consumed. Link Sharing shifts the bandwidth for the file download to the remote user.

Storage Made Easy provides add-in’s for Microsoft Outlook and Mac Mail that promote such links sharing inside of enterprises.

5. Copyright infringement

It is not unusual for users inside of companies to use their corporate emails to share digital music and digital books with friends. This not only exposes the user to copyright infringement it also exposes the company and with no control it is silent threat that explode at any time.

The key take-away is that uncontrolled file sharing can be bad for business and companies should give serious to consideration to how the promote governed file sharing that does not just work on one data cloud but works against all public / private data clouds that is in use at a company.

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Why must all Team Storage Accounts charge monthly ? – Meet the SME Lifetime Option

Storage Made Easy Lifetime Pricing

Most cloud storage plans that offer team pricing do so on a monthly basis using the typical SaaS pricing model where the simple calculation is:

No of Users * Monthly Price

Storage Made Easy also offers this plan but we realised when talking with customer that many companies would prefer to have the option of an alternative of what they term “perpetual” licensing.

This is the “old” software model in which licenses were procured on a one-time pricing “capex” basis and the only recurring costs was a monthly recurring “open” support and maintenance cost.

After numerous requests for such pricing for our online hosted team service we thought why not ? We can surely construct a model that works for companies who want a pricing model where the majority of the costs is up front in capex and the longer you use the service the more money you save.

Support enables access to SME support and Maintenance enables access to future product versions and this payment is mandatory for continued use of the service.

Support and maintenance is 22% of the initial purchase in year 2 and then year 3 and the thereon.

So how do we calculate this ? The algorithm used to calculate this yearly pricing for business team users is simply:

No users * $5 (monthly Price) * 12 (industry average customer churn)

This results in companies who use the service for longer than 12 months effectively using it for free thereafter other than the one time recurring annual 20% payment for support & maintenance.

Now lets look at some practical examples

Company with 15 users:

SaaS Cumulative Spend

12 Months 24 Months 36 months
      $900         $1800          $2700

Initial Payment (15*$5) = $75
Monthly Payment thereafter $75

Lifetime Cumulative Spend

12 Months 24 Months 36 months
      $900         $1098          $1296

Initial Payment (15*$5*12) = $900
Monthly Payment thereafter $0
Yearly Payment thereafter $198

Savings over 3 Year period

1 Year savings = 0
2 Year savings = $702
3 Year Savings = $1404

Savings go up the longer the time period and the more users deployed !

Are there any differences between the accounts ?

There is only one difference.

In the SaaS service each users gets access to 10GB storage per user (hosted on Amazon S3)

In the Lifetime service each user gets access to 5Gb storage per user (hosted on Amazon S3)

In each case the cumulative storage for all users can be used as a ‘pool’ and spread between users as per the Administrator quota policy.

Also each Company can add additional storage or services from any of the 40+ clouds that SME supports.

Features also included for The team service also includes in both lifetime and SaaS pricing options:

    – Encrypt sensitive data stored on remote cloud services with a private key
    – Integration with Active Directory (optional)
    – Full Audit and event history of all files
    – Access via FTP, WebDav or the S3 protocol to any cloud or service added
    – File versioning and locking
    – Folder permissions and ACL
    – Joined up collaboration
    – Secure file sharing

More details on features can be found on the SME features page.

All pricing information is on the SME Pricing page.

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Are your employees gambling with the public cloud ?

A recent article on ComputerWorld by Yorgen Edholm highlighted the growing issue that is affecting companies whereby employees “bring their own cloud” to work ie. they use their private personal accounts to interact with people at work using corporate data.

Yorgen does a good job at highlighting why this is an issue:

“How would you feel if a competitor picked up your product specs? An investor got a copy of your quarterly financials before earnings?”

“Every IT team knows that busy employees don’t always clean up after themselves.”

“From my perspective, the public cloud is not the problem but rather the unsupervised use of the public cloud by employees that make the public cloud problematic for storing and sharing files.”

As Yorgen rightly points out:

“In the end it comes down to control. How much control do you need over your data, who has access and where is information being stored?”

The issue is one of control. The problem that most companies have in the first instance that they have no policy with regards to use of private or public clouds and no way to enforce it. Almost all of the Enterprise File Share and Sync Solutions that exist today suffer from a lack of control. This lack of such controls is highlighted by recent research by the Osterman Research Group.

The way Storage Made Easy handles this is:

– Companies can continue to allow employees to use private or personal clouds.There is a governance option regarding this in which administrators of the SME system can grant employees the ability to add personal clouds.

– Once added any meta information can be audited. This is information such as a file title, date, if the file was shared etc. This works if the file is used from the SME system or if the file is sent direct from a Cloud Provider, such as DropBox. Alerts can be set to inform an Administrator for a certain file and event.

This helps to have visibility of data used with private employee clouds and provides some reactive control but it does not solve companies having pro-active control of their data and not just private consumer cloud data but all data that can be shared from within a company.

To aid with proactive management of data SME provides governance controls across all data cloud that are mapped to the SME service and Apps and App Integrations to enable companies to mandate or promote the use of these within their company. An example of this is Microsoft Outlook in which the SME PlugIn enables files to be shared across all public / private but promotes the use of secure file sharing with password and expiry options (and which is inclusive of auditing).

The auditing feature enables a complete file event history of any corporate file store that can be exposed as a .csv or excel, or that can be simply checked online through the service. As well as auditing the events,remote access to the file is also monitored and IP addresses logged.

Another aspect of control is security and where the cloud is being used particularly the security of files being stored remotely and the trust that you put in the remote provider to protect unauthorized access to data. As Yorgen pointed out in his original article:

“Take the recent NSA PRISM situation as an example. Users were not aware that their service providers were cooperating with the NSA to gather personal information from the public cloud – putting the spotlight on how little control organizations have over government access to their hosted data. While use of IT managed storage doesn’t mean that the government can’t demand access to data, it does mean that your organization would know what data they were gathering, rather than reading about it in the newspapers later.”

The SME system puts the security control back in the hand of companies by enabling companies to securely encrypt data using a private key that is stored on a remote cloud service that can be done on a per file basis or for all files.

Yurgen ends his article by quoting a source:

“One CIO friend told me that, for her, using a public cloud means losing peace of mind.”

Storage Made Easy aim is to provide an agnostic cloud data control solution that gives company this peace of mind.

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