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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Access Windows Azure Storage using CIFS


Windows Azure as a cloud service platform has gone commercial since January this year. Azure Storage is one of the key offering, providing pay-as-you-go cloud storage for your organization.

Thinking about how to best leverage the Azure offering for your company? Being faced with the challenge of providing access to Azure Storage for a group of Active Directory users? Or perhaps your existing file server needs to be upgraded or replaced. In either case, attaching Azure Blob Storage to your file server and publishing it to your user groups can address these issues.

Gladinet CloudAFS (Cloud Attached File Server) allows you to do just that. It also gives users the ability to access the attached, published cloud storage using CIFS. Here’s how:

Publishing an Azure Folder and Assigning Users

CloudAFS map cloud storage to virtual directories of a network drive just like Gladinet Cloud Desktop does. One important difference is that a CloudAFS virtual directory can be accessed by multiple remote clients running Gladinet Cloud Desktop or a CIFS/SMB (native OS support) client. To set it up, the virtual directory, or one of its subfolders needs to be published. Once the folder has been published, users must be assigned to the folder and granted permission to access it.
Publishing the Azure Folder
After you mount the Windows Azure Blob Storage using your Azure credentials, the publishing wizard can be launched from the Published Folder List window shown below:
The following screen pops up. Choose the Azure folder to be published and name it.
 Publish Azure1
Once published, the folder is accessible as shown in the text below.
 Publish Azure - Folder Info
Assigning Users and Permissions
Now, all that's left to complete the process is to decide which users will be granted access using the standard Windows User selection dialog:
 Publish Azure - Add Users
And we also have to define what those access rights will be.
 Publish Azure - Add Permissions
View Published Shares Using Computer Management
 Published Shares - Computer Management
Accessing Published Azure Shares
The published shares can be accessed in Gladinet Cloud Desktop, or mounted as network drives with CIFS.
A user can setup Cloud Desktop to connect to the CloudAFS server. After the setup, Cloud Desktop will have all the shares in CloudAFS listed in My Gladinet Drive. There is no need to mount each individual share.
To setup CloudAFS in Cloud Desktop, open 'Settings' in the Gladinet Management Console and click 'Cloud Attached File Server'. Type in the CloudAFS server and port number information and click 'Ok'.

Publish Azure - Desktop View
Users can also access the share with CIFS, without any need for Gladinet Cloud Desktop.
Access to the CIFS share is also directly available in Windows Explorer. Just type the CIFS address in the Windows Explorer address bar. For example, '\\LH-YJ9B38ZY74HL\Azure Storage.


Users can also mount the CIFS share as a network drive. In Windows, open the Command Prompt and type 'net use * \\your CIFS share'.

Publish Azure - Command Prompt

Visit http://www.gladinet.com for more information.

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