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:
We have some really exciting things lined up for the New Year, one of which is the re-launch of the site with a new look and feel, and the other is some fantastic new ways you can use SMEStorage. We are currently mid way through developing out Mac and Linux virtual drives and expect both of them to be available before the end of January.
These virtual drives will map onto your underlying clouds just as the windows version does. This will mean that you can double click into the virtual drive and access up to 10 different storage clouds depending on your package.
A screenshot of the Mac version in use can be seen below:
In the meantime all that remains is to wish you all a happy festive season and thanks for your support over 2009 .
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.
One of the added benefits of the Microsoft Live SkyDrive support that we recently announced is thatit becomes accessible via the SMEStorage rich multi-cloud API becomes available for developers who want to access Microsoft Live SkyDrive programmtically. On the API’s Google Code site, as well as a detailed manual, there are PHP, PERL, and .Net examples and sample applications, and soon there will follow fully featured .Net & Cocoa libraries. Remember also, that the sames API also supports Amazon S3, Box.net, RackSpace Cloud Files, MobileMe, WebDav, Gmail Clouds, Email Clouds, FTP Clouds as well as Google Docs and Evernote. Expect to see support for at least two more storage clouds before the end of the year.
Many of the above storage clouds not only lack a proper file system (file support, but no folders, with only basic operations) but some, such as MobileMe, SkyDrive, GMail etc, lack any sort of API at all. That’s why we built the SMEStorage Multi-Cloud File System. We built it to enable us to have a universal API to support the storage clouds we plugged into our platform for our own purposes. Indeed it is what all our client tools are based on.
Given that is it is proven and more feature rich than the alternatives we made the decision to make it available as a generic storage cloud API for those wishing to use the SMEStorage platform as a Gateway to support multiple Cloud platforms in their applications or services. It supports multiple connections and multiple users and it does not impact the actual files themsevles as they are still stored on the original cloud service. SMEStorage merely keeps information about the metadata of the files and enables a file system, with services, on top of the remote storage cloud.
In the case of SkyDrive the lack of an API means our implementation is tightly coupled to Microsoft’s web implementation. Any major changes could render the API temporarily inoperable, but we are committed to make the necessary changes to continue support of this Cloud Provider as we move forward in our pursuit of supporting all major storage clouds.
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.
The first independent release of the SMEStorage file Manager is now released and available for download on the OpenOffice.org extension site.
The extension enables you to open and save files directly to/from your primary SMEStorage cloud, be that Amazon S3, Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, FTP-as-a-Cloud, Box.net, MobileMe, Mosso CloudFiles, WebDav Cloud, and now MIcrosoft Live SkyDrive also ( next post).
Once installed you will see a new SMEStorage toolbar which you can then use to open and save documents to your cloud of choice.
The extension currently works only for OpenOffice on windows but if enough people request it, we will also enable it to work on other OS’s also.
A SMEStorage account is required to use the plug-in.
You can view a video demo of the Plug-In on YouTube.
We continue to add new features to the platform, often at the request of users, and the newest is the ability to share files that have been set to public over RSS feeds. For quite a while now user have had the ability to share public files. An example of such a feed can be found here. This is the RSS feed for these public files which are shared via Amazon S3.
RSS for files supporta all the Clouds SMEStorage supports i.e. Amazon S3, RackSpace Cloud Files, MobileMe, Box.net, Gmail, Email, FTP, Evernote, Google Docs, and any WebDav enabled cloud.
If a user clicks on a the links of the RSS item in the feed, the file will be downloaded.
RSS links are in the format:
The order can be ‘last’ or ‘popular’
For Example .
If a user or tag is ‘*’ then any user/tag is used (no filter with user/tag)
Also the link can be truncated if default values are used. For Example:
This shows all the latest files
This shows the the same as the previous example
This show the most popular files of all users
The shows the popular user files of a user called ‘TestUser’
This show the last files of a user called ‘Testuser’ with tag mp3
The default values are: order – last, limit – 100, user – * (all users), tag – * (no filter with tag)
Cool things you can do ? Well you could store all your files in your GMail account and then give access to them over an RSS Feed. Alternatively, if you are a company you could have an RSS link at the bottom of your email signature that gives access to white papers or product documentation for download. Or how about displaying the files you want to be available for download on your WordPress or Joomla CMS using the RSS plug-in’s they provide. If you come up with a unique use, let us know !
During a lightening talk at London CloudCamp we talked about the need for a multi-cloud storage API (slides below). We then presented the options currently available, and of course the SMEStorage multi-cloud API is one of several. We do believe we bring some nice things to the table with out API which include:
– REST based providing an SPI to multiple clouds
– Provides value added services over and above just upload/dowload, and file system view. There are too many to list, but these include file encryption, Email backup, ETL from one cloud to another cloud, content filtering, faxing and much, much more
– Ability to provide a single view of disparate data in different clouds – a cloud data unification within a single file system view.
If you are a developer take the time to check out the API and let us know how we can do more to help and what features you are looking for.
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.
As part of some new changes on the SMEStorage web platform (more of those in the next post) we have introduced contacts as data that you can back up to the cloud platforms we support.
In the SMEStorage explorer bar you will now see a Contact root Node:
When you click on this node you will see two new icons in your SMEStorage explorer Bar:
The first icon gives you the ability to backup contacts from over 50 email and social sites that provide contacts:
Once your contacts are imported (and you can back them up to any cloud that we support (which includes Amazon S3, Mosso Cloud Files, Box.net, Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, FTP-as-a-Cloud, MobileMe, and any WebDav enabled cloud) they are stored as VCard files, and as they are treated as files you can mark them as favourites, share them over email, or Twitter etc.
You can also edit each contact and add extra information or more fields:
Once your contacts are imported you can create contact groups and sub groups and organise your contacts. All your contacts and contact groups are integrated into the site so if you want to share files over email or from business groups when you start typing the first letters your contacts will popup for your to insert.
All our client tools are developed using the SMEStorage Multi-Cloud API. It has been used to develop our iphone web client, Windows Tooling, Firefox plug-in, iGoogle Widget, Facebook Widget and more. It provides an abstraction against several storage clouds and features:
– File like system for manipulation
– Services, such as Email Backup, Send to Twitter, Create Business Collaboration group, email share, and many more
The API manual can be downloaded from Google Code and it is our intention to keep providing code examples. Currently on the site there is a .Net code example for creating a MS Office toolbar plug-iin which will work against all the clouds SMEStorage support. We will follow this soon with PHP examples and XCode / Cocoa examples.
We’ve got a couple of clients using our LIfetime Cloud package (which enables users to mix and match Amazon S3, Mosso Cloud Files, Box.net, Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, FTP-as-a-Cloud, MobileMe, and Webdav clouds) to integrate with Microsoft Sharepoint to enable them to:
Access Sharepoint files via SMEStorage clients, such as the iPhone client.
Automate Sharepoint backups to any of the cloud providers they choose from their Lifetime cloud package, such as Amazon S3, Mosso Cloud Files etc.
To access Sharepoint they use the WebDav provider. Once the WebDav provider has been added as a Cloud Provider (from My Account -> Packages) you need to enter the following details:
Enter the URL of your SharePoint site (ex. http://sharepoint.yourdomain.com/) as your WebDav server host
Enter your SharePoint login credentials as your username and passsword
Enter any folder path
Once you have done this you can choose whether to sync the metada from the files and folders held in Sharepoint to SMEStorage and then you will also be able to access the files through the SMEStorage platform.
After you have done this you can choose to do a scheduled background sync to another cloud provider such as Amazon S3. To do this go to MyAccount->Providers and choose to add a ‘New Provider‘. Choose the Primary Providers as your WebDav SharePoint Provider and choose the new Backup Provider to be Amazon S3 (or whichever other cloud you wish). You can then choose how often you want the sync to occur i.e. hourly, daily, weekly.
That is it, you now have Sharepoint integrated with your SMEStorage account.
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