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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The Top 5 things to Consider for Business File Sharing

20130309-165632.jpgFile 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.

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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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Outlook email file sharing InfoGraphic

We recently did a survey with regards to Outlook file sharing. You can find out more about this and the results of our survey in the press release.

We also created two distinct InfoGraphics to enable us to disseminate the information visually. You can see these below:

You can view the graphic on Pinterest here and also obtain an embed code from there.

Another take on the same information is the concept of file shares multiplying like rabbits when shared in an unsecured way:

You can find the original graphic on Pinterest here form which you can also get an embed code.

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Web File Manager Updates: Shared file link management improved

We have today updated the way in which shared links are managed for all Cloud Files mapped to an account from the web Cloud File Manager. It is now possible to have multiple links for a single file and to easily manage them. These file share links can be either a direct private share, a time expired share or a secure share. Please see the below video for a detailed overview.

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Sharing files between iPad & Android Device

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A user Steve shared with us that he uses the iSMEStorage iPad App to share files with his android device. He turns on the iSMEStorage FTP Server and then connects using FTP Cafe from the Android (same Wi Fi network a pre-requisite).

We tried it, and it works great.

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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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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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WordPress Cloud File Sharing Plug-In updated

We’ve updated our Cloud File Sharing Plug-In. This Plug-In enables you to share files from any of the 30 Clouds that we support on your WordPress Blog.

The Plug-In enables you to make files public on your SMEStorage Account and share them via a WordPress widget on your sidebar. It supports all the clouds that SMEStorage supports and is a great solution for sharing files on your blog form you Cloud Storage.

This is a good segway to point out our terms of use particularly around sharing copyrighted files of any kind. We comply with the Digital Economy act and scan files with public URL’s to check for copyright abuse. If any is found we mark the file as private and issue a warning email.

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Updated WordPress Cloud File Sharing Plug-In

We updated our Cloud File Sharing Plug-In for WordPress today. You can download it from the WordPress PlugIn site. This Plug-In enables you to make files public on your SMEStorage Account and share them via a WordPress widget on your sidebar. It supports all the clouds that SMEStorage supports and is a great solution for sharing files on your blog form you Cloud Storage.

This is a good segway to point out our terms of use particularly around sharing copyrighted files of any kind. We comply with the Digital Economy act and scan files with public URL’s to check for copyright abuse. If any is found we mark the file as private and issue a warning email.

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Further news on iSMEStorage 2.0 for iPhone and iPad

We’ve just released the new version of iSMEStorage to the App Store. We put so much effort into it that is has become a major release version rather than the 1.67 version we had previously intended.

The release includes the following features:

Enhanced Security: The App can now be assigned a PIN over and above the normal login (for security of local files)

Better local file sharing: Added ability to email local files as file attachments

Sync from any Cloud: It is now possible to sync any cloud directory (from any of the clouds we support) to your phone. You can do this with as many directories as you wish and can set the sync directory from within the App.

The first App to offer cut and paste between clouds: We’ve added cut and paste of files between cloud directories and even between different storage clouds used the concept of File and Folder Actions! You can also now use the Cloud Clipboard to store multiple files that you wish to cut and paste in this manner.

Fully fledged FTP Server: You can now turn iSMEStorage into an FTP Server and batch upload as many files locally as you wish.

Fully Fledged Local File Manager: We’ve beefed up the local file operations so you can now cut and paste files between directories locally and also added the ability to create and use folders as categories for the Memos and Voice Memos sections of the App.

Enhanced Text Editor: We’ve beefed up the text editor so it is now full screen and has a word search as many of you requested. We also added the ability to edit any local text file as you wanted and enabled .html .css .xml and any other type of text format file to be edited.

Google Maps integration: The GEO location of where a file was uploaded and where a file is stored is now integrated with a Google Maps view.

Enhanced Cloud Support: Added support for DropBox, Zimbra Briefcase and Files Anywhere (Web Advanced Plan required)

Email to Cloud Support: Added FileBox menu option so that you can easily get to file attachments that you have mailed to your Cloud

Mark Folders as Favourites: Added support for marking folders as favourites from directly within the App.

Web Viewer fixed: Amended Web Viewer so that state is kept when browsing in menu.

Organisation Ready: Added icon for Organisation Folders and Organisation Support for our business users



Apple normally approves within a week so we are hoping that the App will be released around the 20/21st October unless we have to do any amendments as required by Apple.

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Ways you can share Cloud Storage files using the SME Gateway

It’s been a while since we looked at file sharing so we thought it was worth revisiting the ways you can share files for multiple Storage clouds via the SMEStorage Gateway:

Email Sharing (Individual files):

When you share a file via email from the web file managers or from the windows tooling then the user will be notified that a file is shared with him in an email from SMEStorage. To access this file the user has to login to SMEStorage so if he does not have an account he will need to create a free account. The reason for this is that this mechanism of sharing lets you assign an expiry time for the link so you can, for example, set the link to expire in two days.

The email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.

Email sharing (multiple files)

You can use the cloud clipboard from the Rich File Manager to add files that you want to share. Once you have added all the files you want to share, you can again set expiry links and the email that is sent is done using the SMEStorage branding and the recipient needs to login to SMEStorage or create a free account to access the files.

As above the email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.

Sharing via URL

You can get a SMEStorage URL or TinyURL for any file and you can send this to a anyone via email or use in a blog etc. They will not require a SMEStorage account to access the file. This URL does not expire and will only be unusable if you change any details of the file otherwise it will always be able to be used to download the file.

Public Files

You can set a file to be public from the web, windows tools or from the mobile clients. Once a file is made public it is accessible from your public files page which you can find on your sidebar when you login to SMEStorage. You can share the link to your public files page and users do not need to be logged in to access it. All files shared on this page are indexable by search engines and available for anyone to download.

Collaboration Groups

You can setup business Collaboration groups as a mechanism to share files. Once you have setup a group and invited users, any files that you share with the group will automatically generate an email with the file link to all other users in the Group. Other users can also be collaborators and can share files with the group in this way.  This is a great way to manage partners for example in which you want them to have the latest updated content and white papers without having to directly email each one.

Mixing and Matching the above way to share files with Encryption

All of the above options can be mixed with file encryption, even when making file public. You could for example, choose to make 1o files public, all of which are encrypted and no-one would be able to download them without the password key that you provide. The same approach works for files shared over email, or via URL or even with collaboration group members.

For example we have a user who wanted to figure out the best way of having his users access file without having to login but without making the file available to any users who came across them. To this end he uploaded his files to Amazon S3 and encrypted them on upload. He shared the public url of the page with his  user-base but gave them the key to access the files.

One last note is that we would ask you to please review our Terms of Use before sharing files. Our platform cannot be used for sharing copyrighted content, such as movies, Mp3’s or e-books.

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