S3 Xplorer a free Android App for S3 compatible Cloud Storage

Today we released a new standalone Android App for S3 compatible Cloud Storage called S3 Xplorer and available from the Google Play Store.

Features include:

– Works with multiple S3 compatible cloud accounts
– Create, browse, delete buckets / folders
– Upload / download files
– Open files directly in other Apps
– Copy / Move files
– Share files with expiry
– Set a pin lock

Continue reading “S3 Xplorer a free Android App for S3 compatible Cloud Storage”

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Storage Made Easy Provides Universal Secure Access for Cloudian Storage Clients

London – October 1, 2013 – Storage Made Easy today announced that it now making it easy than ever for customers of Cloudian, the market-leading cloud storage company, to access their cloud files no matter their device or location.

Cloudian is an Amazon S3-compliant cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable cloud storage solutions. With this new integration, Cloudian’s clients can use Storage Made Easy’s technology to synchronize all their storage locations – cloud, NAS/SAN, network, and local, with any device, ensuring easy search and access.

“Cloudian delivers the scale, efficiency and power of the cloud to companies around the world,” said Giorgio Propersi, General Manager, Americas and EMEA. “Now, file access is even easier as Storage Made Easy unites cloud-stored information with other business-critical content, no matter where else it is stored. This is a great advantage for any company to have.”

Storage Made Easy unites public, private and SaaS data into a single, secure environment, guaranteeing file access and cross-service search; it is pre-integrated into existing identity management systems such as Active Directory and LDAP. Storage Made Easy provides a comprehensive unified Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) solution built on top of the SME Cloud Control Gateway. Offered either a SaaS or as a hybrid on-premise solution, it delivers the highest levels of management, security, compliance, audit, and access services for corporate data.

“Storage Made Easy delivers added value to Cloudian’s clients by providing complete connectivity via a virtualized, unified view of all of their files,” says Doug Rich, Storage Made Easy’s General Manager, Americas. “A Cloudian-based public or private cloud maintains its secure access with Storage Made Easy while delivering the information users need, when they need it. We are pleased to make the Cloudian solution even more accessible to users worldwide.”

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WebDav the interoperable protocol for file and document access

WebDav is an acronym for Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning and can also be referred to as just plain old DAV.

WebDav is an extension of the HTTP protocol that was originally designed by Jim Whitehead from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1996 when he was working at the World Wide Web consortium and it later became an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard.

WebDav was built as an interoperable standard to support remote collaborative authoring of Web sites and individual documents, as well as remote access to document based systems.

Today it It is the most popular network file-system protocol for use across the Internet, and although it has been integrated as a interoperable layer into many existing product implementations it is also notably missing as an interoperable API standard from many, such as DropBox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 and more.

The Storage Made Easy WebDav Gateway

SME provide a way to access any mapped cloud by secure WebDav irrespective of whether the underlying Cloud Supports the WebDav protocol natively. As WebDav is so well supported in many desktop and mobile Apps this means that Cloud Data can easily be integrated and accessible without having to move it to access the features of a particular Application that is WebDav enabled.

Connecting to WebDav Servers and Windows Shares

SME can also be configured to connect to servers that support the WebDav protocol. This use of WebDav from a SME perspective is using WebDav as a back end cloud to store data rather than exposing existing clouds to be accessible using the WebDav protocol.

Many existing NAS or SAN devices such as those as the NetGear ReadyNAS and the Synology devices range already provide WebDav as an access protocol to access data. Also existing web servers such as Apache can also be configured to use WebDav using the Mod Dav extension.

Many users of SME want to expose windows file shares and make them directly available through the SME service to all devices. The most appropriate and secure way to do this is not to expose such shares directly but to configure Microsoft Internet Information Server to expose these shares over WebDav.

Advantages of WebDav for Windows File Sharing

This has the following advantages:

Seamless integration with the IIS Manager

A secondary protocol provides a security DMZ with regards to direct access to windows shares

IIS WebDAV can be enabled at the site level, allowing IT administrators to restrict WebDAV access to specific sites on a server.

IIS WebDAV supports per-URL authoring rules, allowing administrators to specify custom WebDAV security settings on a per-URL basis. This fine-grained control gives administrators the ability to maintain one set of security settings for normal HTTP requests and a separate set of security settings for WebDAV.

IIS WebDAV supports both shared and exclusive locks to prevent lost updates due to overwrites

WebDAV supports secure connection as well. By enabling HTTPS over all WebDAV connections, security is fortified. SSL certificates can also be installed to increases security measures

Why WebDav as a Cloud Connector ?

WebDAV is an optimized protocol for document access over http. It is proven as being latency independent and is efficient over wide area networks especially in contrast to file protocols such as NFS and CIFS.

Using secure WebDAV ensures the data is encrypted during transmission and due to the optimizations that data is stored efficiently and quickly .

Why Not The Common Internet File System (CIFS)

CIFS is the standard way that windows users share files across corporate intranets and the Internet with a secure VPN connection.

To expose such shares directly to the internet or to other none windows PC’s it is needed to use a bridging technology. Samba is often used as such as technology. With Samba, the ports 139/tcp and 445/tcp are exposed over a public IP Address. Once this is done such shares are accessible.

The drawbacks of this are:

– The CIFS protocol used by Windows file sharing does not provide data encryption

The protocol itself is quite chatty.

No level of security indirection

CIFS is is an optimized protocol for access to data over a network that has been extended by VPN and has been used in this context by many companies for a long time. The disadvantage of this is that all devices have to support , be setup, and work with the VPN. preventing access by some devices and Apps and making Adhoc ‘on the fly’ access difficult.

Securing WebDav Servers

It is beyond the scope of this blog post to go into great detail on the steps required to secure WebDav servers but Microsoft has a very good guide on how to secure the IIS WebDav Service. This can be accessed at:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc778809%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

In addition to this you should note the following best practices:

Folder Permissions: Use non-anonymous authentication. Modify the NTFS permissions on the folder to only allow the access necessary to the users who require such access

Prevent File Execution: If you are only using WebDAV as a file store and not using it to display web pages, then execute permissions should be removed from that site or folder.

Apache WebDav servers can be configured to use LDAP authentication and also two factor authentication and any deployments should consider implementing these.

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Cloud Computing Use Case: Extending Remote Desktop with a Cloud Drive

Many service providers and companies offer Remote Desktop Services to enable companies to access their desktop remotely. Applications are installed for the users where user settings and data are saved to their profile.

We’ve had a few requests from companies and service providers now who wanted users to easily be able to access data on remote clouds (such as Azure, DropBox, Box, FTP, WebDav, Sharepoint Amazon S3 etc) from a remote desktop.

With Storage Made Easy, this is easily done as SME presents a WebDav entry point to all clouds that SME supports whether they support WebDav or not. This means the service provider needs only co-locate the SME software appliance (supplied as an OVF compliant file) in their network and add a simple script to the users startup. The script it:

NET USE * \\webdav.storagemadeeasy.com@SSL\DavWWWRoot
pause

This enables user to get a mapped drive to remote cloud storage as soon as they login to their remote desktop and to browse and access these files like any other data drive and is a simple solution for bringing remote clouds directly into a users remote desktop using a simple metaphor they understand, “a drive”.

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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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Amazon S3 file encryption now supported

We have for quite a while enabled public/private key AES 256 bit file encryption for files in which the private key is not stored on our servers. Many providers now support their own encryption and what we offer is over and above that (and in many cases our encryption is used as an additional security as it is truly private whereas in most cases the vendor stores the public and private key).

We believe it makes sense for us to support vendor Cloud encryption mechanisms were they add value and are possible. To this end we now support the Amazon S3 Cloud encryption and we’ve made it pretty easy to turn the encryption on, straight from the settings of the S3 provider (accessible from the Web DashBoard):

Once you are in the settings page of the S3 provider you simply turn it on:

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How to sync files from Google Docs, SkyDrive, S3 and other Clouds with your BlackBerry Playbook

As we recently posted details about our HTML5 client for the BlackBerry Playbook we thought it would be useful to outline how you can sync files from any number of Clouds with your Playbook.

For this walk through we will be using a third party tool for the Playbook called Mobile FTP and the SMEStorage CloudFTP protocol adaptor. This solution will work with any free, personal or business Cloud File Server Account that has the Protocol Adaptor added to their account.

First purchase the Mobile FTP App for your Playbook and install it (t is £1.00)

Next setup the SME CloudFTP protocol adaptor connection in the App. This enables the SMEStorage Clouds you have mapped to your account to be accessible over FTP even if they don’t natively support FTP.

This will result in a new bookmark called SME FTP

At this point all your files are acessible through MobileFTP on the Playbook simply by selecting the bookmark and connecting

You can download files or upload them to the various cloud using the Mobile FTP App

Now we will set up Sync. First we need to create a bookmark of the directory we wish to sync within the Mobile FTP App. We wil choose a folder called ‘Android Docs’ that is hosted on Google Docs.

We will name the Bookmark “Docs to Sync”.

Now we’ll go back to the root of the Mobile FTP and edit the Sync example to change it for sync bookmark we just created:

We changed the name to “SME Sync GDocs” and chose the boomarked directory “Docs to Sync” as the directory to sync with the root of the SD Card. Now we can simply run the sync.

Once the sync is completed the nested directory structure and files are available from the SD card on the Playbook. We can re-run the sync when we wish to pick up any changes, and we can add as many sync profiles, to as many different clouds, as we wish.

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