Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool which many teams and organisations already use as a collaboration hub. The File Fabric is a ‘single pane of glass’ fo unstructured file data, be that on-clodu or on-premises and it makes using, sharing, and accessing these files ultra secure. The File Fabric Slack connector brings together the best collaboration hub with the best File hub !by
Last week I told you about the new SME File Fabric Workflow Approval feature. Today’s topic is another new collaboration feature, Share for Edit.by
Hi, I’m James, a Senior Developer at Storage Made Easy. As a developer, I often look for ways to reduce coupling in the tools and technologies that we use, and I see this from the low level code that we write, to the higher-level architectural choices we make.by
Total Commander is a popular free file manager for Android phones and tablet devices. It essentially provides an Android version of a desktop File Manager.
Total Commander can be used with Plug-In.’s and these include WebDav, FTP and sFTP plugin’s. The plugin’s add extra functionality to the Total Commander product, enabling it to connect to data using WebDav, FTP and sFTP protocols.
Storage Made Easy provide WebDav, FTP and sFTP protocol adaptors enabling any storage cloud mapped to the SME service to be accessible over these standard protocols, even if the default storage cloud does not support them.by
Although the File Fabric provides Linux GUI Apps, a frequent request is to be able to sync cloud storage with a Linux Server in headless mode.
This can be achieved with the the Enterprise File Fabric as follows:by
WebDav is a great ubiquitous protocol for file transfer. It’s been around a long time and is well supported. If you want to know more about WebDav please check out our white paper on the WebDav protocol.
Unfortunately WebDav for Mac OSX is not implemented well and is the reason we block the use of our own CloudDav WebDav protocol adaptor, that spans all mapped Clouds, and promote the use of the Cloud Drive within our Mac OS X App.by
Midnight Commander is probably the most popular command line file manager in the world, and certainly for Linux distros. Its design was initially inspired by the classic two pane interface that was found in Norton Commander which was a DOS file manager (for those who remember !).
One of the unsung features of the Midnight Commander (also available on other platforms including phones (I used to use this on my old Nokia N900) and windows and mac) is that it can connect to server over FTP.
This is interesting from a Storage Made Easy viewpoint as although SME providers a full suite of Linux tools, SME also provider protocol interoperability as part of its Cloud Gateway features. What is this I hear you ask ? Well, simply put, it enables files you have stored on public or private storage to be accessible over any of the protocols Storage Made Easy exposes ie FTP, FTPS, WebDav, S3, SFTP.
Midnight Commander supports the FTP protocol which makes it easy to get direct access to any storage that is added to a SME Account using the SME FTP cloud protocol adaptor. To do this:
Choose the Left or Right option
Choose FTP link
Enter connection to SME as follows:
or if you are using the SME EU Server:
The net result is a very easy way to bring the cloud into the linux desktop integrated with tools you already know and use. This can be used with the SME Personal CLoud plan, Business Team, and on-site enterprise editions of the product.by
We have implemented a new folder sharing feature for Business Cloud / on-site Enterprise File Share and Sync Users. It simply provides the ability to share folders and sub-folders of files with external companies or other users who can receive the link, enter the password and gain access to the files without the need for an SME Account.
The video below shows the feature in action.by
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:
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.by
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
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”.by
We are now giving away 150MB of free WebDav access to mapped Clouds to all SME free accounts. This is enough to access around 300 documents on Mobile devices per month and is enough for the average use of WebDav into Clouds such as DropBox, Google Drive, SkyDrive etc.
If you want to access more than just pay a one time $5 fee and get access to 2GB per month of WebDav for the life of your use of our service. If you want unlimited use then just sign up to be a personal cloud or business cloud user.
Also, all free accounts feature 5GB free storage on Amazon S3 and the ability to add up to 3 other Clouds that you wish to access.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