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:
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:
There are many ways which you can use the SMEStorage Organisation Multi-Cloud Gateway Platform to collaborate with colleagues and business partners. We’ll have a look at some of the ways this can be done and provides some help and tips so that you can pick the best mechanism to collaborate.
**Remember that the options outlined below work with any of the clouds we support through our Gateway**
Email Sharing (Individual files) using the SMEStorage Gateway:
You can share a file from any of your mapped cloud storage providers using email from the web file managers or the windows tooling. 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.
If you are sharing files via our mobile clients then the files are shared via an email link that is created directly on the device and sent via the device’s email.
**Note** The email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.
Email sharing (multiple files) using the SMEStorage Gateway
You can use the cloud clipboard from the Rich File Manager to add files that you want to share, and these can be from several different storage clouds. 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.
**Note** As above the email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.
Sharing Files using a 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. Users 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.
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. You can of course choose to encrypt files publicly shared which means that anyone wishing to download the file will need to have been given a password as they will be taken to a password page before they can download the file.
Business Collaboration Groups
Business Groups are one of the collaboration features of SMEStorage that works with Individual Accounts as well as with Organisation Accounts. The basic premise is that you can create a Group and invite users to it. This is very easy to do. Any file content that you then share with the Group will be shared with all members of the group. Group members will receive an automated email message letting them know that a new file has been shared with them.
Members can also receive Twitter messages when a file is shared with them if they have chosen to enter their Twitter details in their SMEStorage user preferences. You can also choose to allow other users to share files with your business group, or decide whether to let group members be visible to each other (These last two options are only available when setting up business groups using the rich File Manager from the web).
So what are groups useful for ? Well we polled some of our users to see what they were using them for and we found some interesting uses. One of our users is using Groups as a way to keep his sales partners updated with corporate product collateral and technical documentation. He has formed what he calls a “content sharing network”. Another of our users is in a band and after doing some live recording he tweaks the results in Garage Band and shares them with his bandmates.
The key to business groups is that they let you share content with external parties, or let them share content with you and you can create and manage the either from the web, Windows Cloud Dashboard, or directly from your mobile client.
Mixing File Sharing options 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.
How to Encrypt Files
Files can only be encrypted using the web or Windows Dashboard clients. The Web, Windows tools, Mac and Mobile tools will recognise an encrypted file and ask you for a password if you try and access it.
Organisation folders are only available to be used with our Organisation Cloud offering and are analogous to public folder shares for user of an Organisation. When the folders are created all content within the folder is shared with all users of the Organisation Cloud, unless permissions are set to prevent this for individual users. They are a great way to share files and information within an Organisation. Commonly used folder names can be things such as ‘Marketing’, ‘Human Resources’, Projects’ etc.
Organisation Folders: Creating
Organisation Admins of our Organisation Cloud offering can choose to create Organisation folders by checking the “is Organisation folder” checkbox. A special folder is created that is denoted by a briefcase. In the example above we have created an Organisation folder called ‘Marketing’ that is stored on Amazon S3.
When an Organisation folder is created all members of the Organisation Cloud automatically view this folder, and any content, in their file tree when they login. It is a great way to keep users updated on company information.
Organisation users can also upload to these folders.
Organisation Folders: Protecting
You can assign permissions on Organisation Folders as to which users have permission to view, access or upload to the Organisation Folders. This can be accessed by clicking on the”Org Folders” from the sidebar when logged in via the web.
Organisation Folders: Filebox
Each Organisation Folder (and Individual Account) also has a FileBox address(see the FileBox section for more information on FileBox) in which Organisation Folders can be assigned a special email address and emails and content can be sent directly to the Cloud Folder from the email address that is registered with the user from SMEStorage.
For Individual users, they can accept the default FileBox address or assign their own from My Account->Options. The administrator of the Organisation Cloud needs to assign the FileBox unique names for Organisation Folders and distribute them to users.
FileBox: Sharing email attachments.
Organisations have different challenges. Having emails in inboxes appertaining to Marketing, or Hunan Resources, or clients is fine, but it’s easy for this to be ‘lost’ in some users inbox and not available to the whole department.
FileBox changes this because it allocates a unique email to each user and also to Organisation Folders. Each user of the Organisation Cloud can send or CC an email to either personal or the public Organisational folder and the email will be stored as a text along with any attachments so that it is instantly stored in the correct place and available to all Organisation users.
The way FileBox works for users is as follows:
1. Users have an extra setting in their My Account-> Options page which appertains to Filebox
2. The user is given the option of assigning a keyword to the filebox@SMEStorage.com email address so that the end email address become filebox.<keyword>@storagemadeeasy.com.
3. This is your unique address to send or forward an email. All emails that are received to this address that are sent from your registered SMEStorage email address will be added to a folder called “My Filebox”
4. You can choose whether just to store emails or emails and attachments.
5. Within the Filebox folder the subject line of the email will become a folder name and within this will be stored the email, as a text file, and any attachments if this is the configuration you chose.
The way FileBox works for and Organisation:
Organisation Admins get some extra features from the ‘Org Folders’ sidebar options. Here Admins can also choose the keywords for the Organisation Folders they have created so that email information and attachments can be sent directly to this folder. As with the Individual use, the subject line becomes the folder name.
**Note** You must send the emails from the email address registered with your Organisation Cloud for the emails to be picked up**
**Note** FileBox emails are processed every 5 minutes so it may take 5 to 10 minutes for the email to appear in your FileBox
It is possible to use Business Groups to create notifications for internal Organisation users (as well as for external users of a business Group). We will outline how this can be done:
Setting Up Notifications:
To create notifications on any of these 3 things for files:
– File extension
Create a business group with all the members that you want to receive notifications. The members will receive an email and need to accept being a member of the business group.
Once this is done:
1. Navigate to whatever folder you want to use for notifications on the Web File Manager (not the lite file manager)
2. Go to the business groups tab that you just created and click on it
3. Click ‘Auto Rule’
4. Decide what the text is and the type of things you want to look for in a file
5. Decide whether this is only for the current folder outlined or also sub folders
6. Click’ Add Rule’
Now whenever files of the type you specified get added to a folder the group members will automatically receive an email.
Organisation Cloud Notifications
Users of the SMEStorage Organisation Cloud offering can set up special type of notifications on Organisation Folders. These can be accessed by Organisation Cloud Admins from the sidebar Option “Org Folders” and selecting the notifications tab. You can then set whether users get email notifications for all file types of specific names or extensions.
When any member of the Organisation Cloud drops a file in this folders or send a file to it using FileBox then if it matches the rule you setup in the notifications all users will receive an email letting them know that new content has been added.
Collaboration on revisions of different documents is currently in beta and will be released soon. This will enable users to collate document versions and step through them and mark the changes and create a final version of the document.by
We rolled out some Organisation Cloud updates on our web platform in the last few weeks that are worth highlighting:
Lite File Manage now supports Tags
Our Lite File Manager started life as lightweight alternative to the rich Ajax enabled File Manager. Gradually it has been updated so that it has the same functionality as the Ajax enabled File Manager. Tags is one of the last things to be added, and now that it is there it replicates the functionality of the Ajax based file manager but is much more lightweight:
Ability to make a Folder a Favourite item
Many of our mobile users have long requested the ability to make a Folder a favourite so they could click on ‘Favourites’ and easily navigate to a folder structure or set of files. The first step towards enabling this in the mobile platforms was to enable it in the Web platform and API which is now done. Indeed if you are a mobile user, marking a folder as favourite from the web platform should already show up within the Favourites Menu of each of the mobile Apps.
Organisation Folder permission
An Organisation Folder is a public folder that, when created by the Organisation Cloud Administrator, ripples down for every user so that, for example if the Org Cloud Admin creates a folder called ‘HR’, all users would see this folder and anything it contains. Users, by default, could also post to this folder. Many of you wanted to control the permissions on a per user basis to these folders, and we have now implemented this into the platform. The Org Admin can now set permissions for individual users of the Org Cloud.
Email attachments and files directly to your Organisation Folder
We recently introduced FileBox that enables user to send emails and attachments to a special folder called FileBox. You can read more about this here. We’ve also added this into The Organisation Cloud so that Org Admin’s can set a special Filebox email address for Organisation Folders enabling users of The Org Cloud to email file attachments directly to an Organisation Folder.
Private Cloud Providers for Organisation Users
One of the biggest updates we have implemented is to enable the Organisation Cloud Admin to control end users ability to add their own File clouds. When is this useful ? Take Google Apps for example. If your Organisation has bought into Google Apps then each of your users will have their own Google Docs account. Your user will want to use their own Google Docs Account, and you may want to implement a separate Google Docs Account to store shared Organisation Files. This is the kind of scenario this caters for. Of course you can also let users add their own private clouds or implement other shared Organisation storage, such as Amazon S3. This feature can be enabled in the My Account->Options tab of the Organisation Admin account.
We’ve beefed up the file auditing capabilities of the whole Organisation Cloud Platform which enables an Organisation Admin to control exactly what gets audited for each user.. We’ve also added filters and enhanced the export abilities so that you can export logs directly into CSV for example.
We’ve added the ability to explicitly lock files. This is useful if a file is being worked upon or edited and you want to make the file unavailable to all other users until this has been done.
We’ve already started to move some of these new features into our desktop and mobile tooling and we will start pushing out some new versions of these soon.by
We have changed some of the default options for our Organisation Cloud offering. The changes are:
– We now expose the bandwidth so that you can monitor and bill individual or departmental use within your Organisation. This is also exposed in our API for integration with billing and chargeback systems.
– We have now made the Organisation file usage logs filterable and available for export in .csv and .xls format
– We’ve made default the option for users to be added manually rather than requiring an email activation
– We’ve made default the option for folders to be converted into Organisation public folders. You can do this from the Rich Cloud File Manager and highlighting the folder and clicking on the “rename” icon. You will notice a new option, “convert to Org folder”. User permissions can then be set on these folders as normal.
– We’ve added the ability for the Organisation Admin to force encryption for all files with a key of the Admin’s choosing.
The next major update will involve the ability to integrate Activity Directory (AD) domains, LDAP and OpenID integration.by
There are many ways to design and build an internal Private storage cloud. The components that you need are:
1. Some form of Network Attached Storage
2. Some form of File Server to enable access to the files
3. Other Data Access or entry points dependent on the access type required
SME provides a data access gateway with rich data access points to files that are stored on the cloud. Our SaaS offering is multi-tenant and can be used with many clouds, such as Google Docs, Amazon S3, Microsoft SkyDrive, RackSpace Cloud Files etc. It can also be used with Private Cloud Storage through the use of FTP, WebDav, or any REST based Cloud API which can be added into our multi-cloud API in under a week.
SME acts as an enabler for richer features and functions of other storage clouds or storage file systems, providing rich tooling, clients and solutions such as our Cloud File Server.
We think of ourselves as a data access solutions provider. Storage is getting more commoditised by the day and we believe that it’ what you can do with your files and storage that provides the real value.
Aside from the multi-tenant hosted version of SME we also provide SME as an appliance which can run in-house as an enabler for rich access and solutions for storage platforms.
This blog post will describe how easy it is to be build out your own Private Cloud using OpenFiler, an operating system that provides file-based network-attached storage and block-based storage area network, and SME (and you can use either the SaaS hosted edition or the appliance).
Combining OpenFiler with SME enables your internal files to be available on all the SME supported devices (web, windows, Mac, Linux iPhone, Blackberry etc) plus the features of the Organisation Cloud platform which enable a powerful File sharing / File access / Collaboration / Intranet/ Sharepoint type platform.
Below are the step by step instructions to enable Openfiler NAS storage access via the SME platform.
1. Download Openfiler form http://www.openfiler.com/community/download/ For this exercise we downloaded the open filer VMware image
2. Add a SCSI drive to the VMware Image instance
3. Start the Openfiler VMware Instance and note the browser url
4. Open your browser and login default username/password is openfiler/password
5. Add a volume group and volume in openfiler
6. Enable HTTP / WebDAV server service
7. Add SME to access the openfiler in Network Access configuration
8. Create a share for the volume you created
9. Allow RW access and Public guest access(though this can be configured with security) on WebDav protocol from SME on the share
10. Make sure you can access the shared folder via http using your public ip address
11. Go to StorageMadeEasy.com and add the shared folder as a webDav provider
12. If you have existing files in Openfiler then you can sync them now or anyother time.In this case we don’t have any files to sync.
13. Go to the SME File Manager where you can see OpenFiler has been added
14. Now you can use the full functionality of the SME platform and Cloud access tools using OpenFiler as the backend storage provider
In summary we’ve shown how to setup OpenFiler to work with Storage Made Easy. In a future post we’ll show how SME can be used to automatically sync files to Amazon S3 or Google Docs (or other clouds).
As outlined in introduction to this post, Storage Made Easy can be used as an onsite appliance with OpenFiler rather than the hosted model being used. If this is of interest to you then please contact us.by
We’ve added a new Remote Upload feature that works above any cloud. You can find this new feature in the file manager toolbar on SMEStorage.com (it has also been added to the iPhone iSMEStorage application and will be added to other client applications as we do update).
The remote upload feature saves bandwidth and the time of downloading something from the web and then uploading it back to your chosen cloud. Now all you have to do is click on Remote Upload and add enter the URL (it can be https:// http:// or ftp://). It will be added as a background task and processed on the server and will appear in whatever folder you were in when you process the remote upload.by
For many of use in the office using Mac’s we’ve yearned for some tighter integration with SMEStorage and the Mac. You can choose to use the Windows explorer via Crossover or WINE with the Mac and it works nicely, and you can also use the Firefox plug-in which also works really well, but having OS level integration is always nice.
Snow Leopard has enhanced the integration of the automator services into the OS which makes it much easier to provide contextual functionality.
Using this method there is now available an add-in for users of SMEStorage to be able to upload their files directly from the Mac to their chosen cloud of choice (and we now support over 10 storage clouds), and after the file has been uploaded a unique link for the file will be copied to the clipboard.
You can view a video below that show this working with Google Docs:
Recently we pushed out some WordPress plug-ins that enable you to backup your wordpress blog to any of the 10+ storage clouds we support, and a separate plug-in to enable you to share your cloud storage files easily from your blog via file links.
There are now two Joomla components created by Roman Gelembjuk. One mimics the WordPress component which easily enables you to share your Cloud Storage files on your Joomla site, and the second is a rich component that displays a file directory and enables you to easily manage and share files within the directory that are hosted on your choice of cloud storage. Below is an example of this directory. You can see this for yourself here.
SMEStorage File Directory download
SMEStorage File Share Download
Storage Clouds supported are Amazon S3, RackSpace Cloud Files, Google Docs, Box.net, Microsoft Live Mesh, Microsoft SkyDrive, Box.net, Apple MobileMe, GMail, Email Clouds, FTP, and any WebDav enabled Cloud.
This is our first post of the new year and in the period between December and February we have been very busy indeed. The SMEStorage web platform has been given a total new look and feel and many new features have been added. We’ve also added support for Microsoft SkyDrive, Microsoft Live Mesh and Google Docs storage clouds.
Our focus is on providing as support for as many commercial storage clouds as possible and enabling you to combine these clouds into a virtual view and providing enhanced features and services on top of the clouds we support. The picture below gives a good overview of the SMEStorage.com platform.
We’ve also put together a video to highlight some of the features and services that are visible to users of clouds that we support via the SMEStorage platform below. Click play and then wait 4 to 5 seconds for the video to load. It is best viewed in full screen:
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.
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.
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.by