Today, almost every aspect of our lives revolves around and is influenced by data. Various entities collect, analyse, and, more importantly, store our personal data, such as our names, home and IP addresses, and credit card numbers. This phenomenon was further confirmed by the 2020 UK Business Data Survey, which showed that 81% of businesses handle digitised personal and non-personal data from employees and customers alike. As these businesses expand, the use of data increases as well.by
Interest in letting employees to work from home has never been higher and will remain high even after the Covid-19 virus has run its course. For Companies large and small the key challenge is how to make Company data available remotely in a way that is easy for employees to use without compromising on information security. The Enterprise File Fabric™ offers an unmatched set of features to support secure remote working. In this post we’ll see how to set up the File Fabric in less than an hour to provide secure remote access to on-premises data, be that SMB, NAS / SAN or Microsoft DFS shares. The best part is that data is not copied or removed anywhere, it remains in the same secure place and the File Fabric provides web scale secure access to it .by
Object storage platforms, such as Amazon S3 are evolving at a rapid pace. The Amazon S3 API has become a de facto standard alongside other platform like OpenStack Swift and Ceph, and with that progression, it brings us many new features and integrations.by
Multi-Cloud is a term that is in vogue now, but Storage Made Easy were one of the very original multi-cloud companies. We have always had a focus on unification of data assets whether on-cloud or on-premise and whether in-storage on in-app.
Having a unified approach to data provides the means in which companies can apply collaboration across data assets in addition to setting common policy for data governance and control to satisfy every increasingly robust compliance regimes.
Today is an exciting day as we announce the General Availability of the next generation of Storage Made Easy’s Enterprise File Fabric application.by
DropBox has been in the press quite a lot lately with regards to passwords breaches and also with surreptitious behaviour with regard to machine security on Mac. Although DropBox has started to reassure users with ‘how secure we are‘ type information Corporate IT departments will again feel they have cause for concern with regards any internal corporate use of DropBox.
So the key question we are trying here is ‘just do do you solve a problem like Dropbox‘ ? Indeed this is a slightly unfair question in that it is using DropBox to make a point and the reality is we could have picked on one of several cloud storage services as Corporate IT has misgivings with anything Cloud when it relates to files.by
With the world growing increasingly data-rich, customers are looking for tools to access data at any time, whilst also being as secure as possible.
Storage Made Easy provides a comprehensive control and management solution with the most enriched cloud computing features to enable secure cloud collaboration across data points for corporations.by
One of the more frequent requests we have had for the Storage Made Easy Office 365 Connector was to enable users how used their own identity management with Office 365.
This affects users who purchase Office 365 through a reseller / Distributor such as GoDaddy or for companies who are using their own Identity Management with Office 365 for Single Sign On (SSO).
Users who use Office 365 with their own identity management or third party identity management can now also use the SME O365 connector, previously limited only to Microsoft Office 365 OAuth.by
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.by
We had an interesting Use Case recently in which the requirements were as follows:
The Company in question had a Google Apps Account and therefore used Google Drive for their Storage. They had a number of iWork Numbers documents that were modified by their team members whilst on the move using iWork and iPad’s. Currently their process was editing the files, and then trying to send the resultant file via email to other team members. Due to file size some files were not received and in general the email server was quickly eating up storage. What they cam to SME for was to figure out how they could refine this process.
With Storage Made Easy the process became much simpler. Firstly the company subscribed to a Cloud File Server SaaS Account. The SME Cloud Admin then added the companies Google Drive account to be accessible via SME and invited other team members to be part of the Cloud File Server. On the Folder(s) in question the Cloud Admin simply set permissions so that relevant team members had access and added a notification rule specific to keynote file to ensure that all subscribers to the shared folder received an email notification on new files or updates to existing files. As per our prior article on Twitter and SMS Gateways on these changes to file events SME can easily generate instant SMS notifications.
As Storage Made Easy enables WebDav above any Cloud added to it then Google Drive becomes instantly accessible via WebDav. For the Company this means that they can simply open and create new keynote files directly in Keynote from their shared Google Drive folder and then on completion simply save them back. The very act of doing this generates a file event on completion which send an email and/or SMS to users subscribed to the shared folder vastly simplifying the process.
Another added benefit to the company is the complete end-to-end joined up audit tracking they get on all Google Drive documents:by
Now that 2012 has drawn to a close and we are in mid January we thought it would be useful to reflect on what we have seen through our own business as trends and pointers, look at some of the things we have done over the course of the last year and finish by looking at what Storage Made Easy brings into 2013.
A key trend for our business was a switch from online personal and SMB clients to more direct channel and corporate clients using our hybrid Appliance. The work we are doing with Huddle on the channel side and Xtime and Finser on the direct side are great examples of this trend. From July our business moved from a model of online Personal / SMB SaaS to Direct Corporate / Channel sales utilising our hybrid on-premise cloud appliance. Pre July the revenue split was 90:10 online SaaS and today the model is 10:90 weighted towards the direct business/channel revenue stream. We see this as a key indication that :
a. Larger companies want to ‘own’ their own data and are focused on making their storage integrate with what they already have such as their existing identity management systems (in many case Active Directory) and existing structured data systems.
b. Companies want to stop staff using un-authorised services and have come to the conclusion that they need to put structures in place to not only prevent this but to offer an alternative.
b. Companies are focused on the data legislation and governance of structured data so that they can track all file events, a mandatory requirement for certain verticals, such as government and healthcare for example.
c. The ability to search across disparate data sets easily and also on the move is becoming more and more important for companies as they try to make productive use of their core corporate asset, their data !
Our Focus for 2013:
Our Focus for 2013 is going to be as follows:
1. Simplifying our pricing proposition. The result of this will be visible over the next few weeks. We have tried to be as flexible as possible with what we provide to users but we find that this can result in users being paralysed by the paradox of choice so we will be making these much easier to understand.
2. Concentrating on formally launching our on-premise cloud Appliance. Having done a limited release launch in 2012, we will be shortly making available the ability to download the Appliance direct from our site.We have spent a fair bit of time re-designing the installation procedure with regards to networking, https keys etc, to make it easy to install and get going. Below is an overview of the Architecture of the SME Appliance.
3. Enabling easy IaaS deployments so that users and companies can easily deploy their own personal or company cloud onto IaaS infrastructures. We already do this for Linode but we will be expanding this to Amazon EC2 (and maybe one other provider we cannot discuss yet) and making the whole process an easier click through process.
We had a great growth year in 2012 and we look forward to continuing that in 2013.
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