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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grow Your SMB with Cloud Storage

The basic principle of growing the business is finding the best person to get the job done, with reasonable cost. That is why the payroll is outsourced to ADP; In-house Email Server replaced by Google Apps Premier; Business contacts are managed by Salesforce.com.

Your in-house data storage will grow as your business grow. Over time, it will become expensive. For example, it may take a couple of days to backup 50G data to a FTP server. It will take 200 days to do the same thing for 5 Terabytes of data.  Your business premise usually is the slowest link to the Internet. It will not be a good idea to have local storage grow to a level that it is difficult to transfer to a different location over Internet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is New in Gladinet CloudAFS 2

Today we announced the ‘Home Directory’ support for Gladinet CloudAFS 2, which works with major cloud storage services such as Amazon S3, AT&T Synaptic Storage, EMC Atmos, Google Storage, Mezeo, Nirvanix, Peer1 and Windows Azure.

The Gladinet development team is also working on the Rackspace CloudFiles, OpenStackCaringo CAStor and other integration support. Pretty soon, these cloud storage services will be integrated to Gladinet Cloud Suite.

What is a Home Directory?

Before we talk about home directory, let’s talk about a shared directory first.

It is fairly easy to understand a shared cloud storage directory. Everyone has a mapped drive to the CloudAFS server, the server in turn connects to cloud storage services and give you the same cloud storage to share. This was a default behavior in the first version of CloudAFS, a simple gateway to the cloud.

Now CloudAFS 2 introduces home directory for each user. Driven by feedbacks from our partners, it is also desirable to have users connect to the CloudAFS server, instead of having a shared directory, they will get isolated home directories instead. The isolated cloud storage directory will be automatically provisioned upon user’s first connection.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Amazon S3 or OpenStack, Take Your Side!

Cloud storage market is inherently divided. If you are in US, you may be using Amazon S3. If you are an AT&T customer, you may be using Synaptic Storage. If you are in Germany, the privacy law may require data not leaving the country boundary.

The country boundary, the MSP (Managed Service Provider) boundary and the geographic regions are all parameters that divide the cloud storage market up into pieces.

When the market is divided, if a MSP moves quickly, it can capture good market share.

This leaves each MSP scramble to beat the market with a cloud storage offering. But which cloud storage software to use? Which cloud storage API to conform to? Which way provides the quickest time-to-market?

Here at Gladinet, we are seeing basically 4 groups of offering after doing many integrations with our partners to offer end-to-end cloud storage solutions to user’s desktop.

    1. Amazon S3 compatible API
    2. OpenStack, AKA, Rackspace Cloud
    3. Microsoft Azure
    4. EMC Atmos

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Backup to Windows Azure

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s Cloud Operating System. Just like DOS started with Disk (disk operating system), Windows Azure starts with Azure Storage. 

Storage is the foundation of every OS. Wouldn’t it be cool that you can move your local folders and files into Windows Azure, and later you can use it for your Azure based applications?

Step 1 - Sign Up

The journey starts at the Microsoft Online Service customer portal, where you will authorize Microsoft to charge you based on your monthly Azure consumption, including the Azure Storage.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Migrate FTP Server to Cloud Storage

If Cloud is anything to do with resources from the Internet, FTP servers were much earlier than the cloud as we know now, defined by Amazon S3, Rackspace CloudFiles, Windows Azure, AT&T Synaptic Storage and so on.

If you are using a FTP server for offsite backup or content share already, what makes you want to jump ship to the *real cloud*? 

Maybe it is because the 99.999999% durability and 99.99% availability from Amazon S3 is attractive, so you will never need to be concerned about FTP server crash, as the files are automatically replicated in the cloud.

Maybe it is because it is pay as you go so you pay for 1G if you only use 1G instead of paying for the 100G FTP server without using its full capacity.

Maybe it is because when the FTP server is almost full, it is another head ache to upgrade to a bigger server? But for cloud storage, it is never full, always ready to add more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is Amazon S3 Expensive?

What is one Terabyte? It is 1024 GB or the same size as the hard drive comes with your Mid to High-end PC nowadays or a low-end PC comes tomorrow.

What does it cost to store that on Amazon S3? It is $150 per month. It doesn’t sound like much, does it?

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Attach Amazon S3 Buckets to Windows Server

What are Amazon S3 buckets? They are containers full of storage objects.

How can you access them? There is AWS (Amazon Web Service) Management Console Web Interface in a web browser. There are also many other Amazon S3 clients you can use to upload files into the buckets.

Wouldn’t it be cool when you upload files by the AWS web console and the files show up on your Windows File Server; and vise versa?

As an admin, you can remotely administer your Amazon S3 buckets over the AWS web interface, keeping the Amazon credentials to yourself. For the group of users that you are serving, they can share the Amazon S3 buckets by mapping a drive to the Windows file server, using their own Active Directory credentials.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Pick a Cloud Storage Gateway?

As defined in Wiki, A cloud storage gateway is a network appliance or server which resides at the customer premises and translates cloud storage APIs such as SOAP or REST to block-based storage protocols such as iSCSI or Fibre Channel or file-based interfaces such as NFS or CIFS. – wikipedia.org

Cloud Storage Gateway or just Cloud Gateway is a new product category. The main benefit is that it can bring cloud storage on-premise to where you work.

When it comes to pick a cloud storage gateway, there are several questions to ask before you buy one.

On-Premise Gateway to Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is the leading brand in cloud storage. With over 130 Billion objects stored, it is also battle tested to scale.

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It grows and gains trust from businesses around the world looking for offsite storage. If you are one such business, all that you need is an on-premise gateway to Amazon S3.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Which Cloud Storage Do You Use?

We opened up an Internet poll last week about which cloud storage do you use. The poll will continue to be open for vote at Gladinet blog. The early results are interesting.

It looks like many readers are familiar with Google Docs and Microsoft Windows SkyDrive. Not surprising since both Google and Microsoft are big brand names. Both services are free. Both services were introduced long ago (Google Docs in 2006 and SkyDrive in 2007)

It is interesting to see Amazon S3 has a big lead over the rest of the crowd, especially over Windows Azure Storage. It is possible that Windows Azure brand the whole cloud computing under Windows Azure, instead of brand individual components like the Amazon S3, Amazon EC2 and etc. People may be more familiar with Windows Azure as it is in Visual Studio 2010 and don’t actually think of Windows Azure Storage as a separate offering. When the mind don’t think of it as a separate offering, you don’t use it as a separate service.

Cloud Storage & Local Hard Drive

Cloud Storage is cheap, typically around 15 cents/GB/month for 99% uptime and 99.9999% durability.

What is cheaper? Local hard drive! You can get a 250G Western Digital drive for $69.99.  If you have to replace it every two years, it is 1 cents/GB/month.  Local hard drive is 10 times cheaper and many times faster.

Well, I know, this is not a fair comparison. With cloud storage, you get offsite storage, you get anywhere access and you get unlimited storage provisioned right when you need it and the list can go on and on.

However, this 10 to 1 cost ratio does bring up a valid argument – How to best leverage local hard drive to make the cloud storage solution even more useful, with almost no additional cost?

When the cloud storage and local storage work in tandem, it brings out the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Easy Desktop Access to Amazon S3 Bucket

When people trying to understand the buckets the first time, they think of them as top level folders. It is kind of right. You have your Amazon S3 account and the first level of objects you see are these top level containers – buckets.

As Amazon S3 grows in popularity, we need to to take a closer look to the buckets and understand the functionality beyond the top level “folders”.

Bucket name is part of the DNS domain name such as bucket.amazonaws.com. It has to be unique across all S3 buckets. It also resolves to the server that is hosting the bucket. For this reason, we recommend you create bucket names according to the DNS convention, such as person.department.companyname. For example, a bucket name dev.gladinet will become dev.gladinet.amazonaws.com as the DNS name, which can uniquely identify a development team shared bucket for gladinet.

For this reason, the Amazon S3 support in the new Gladinet Cloud Desktop has been changed to bucket level support. You can mount an S3 bucket into Windows Explorer as a mapped drive, for easy desktop access and backup purpose.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What’s New in Gladinet Cloud Desktop 2.3.432

 

Support bucket mounting in Amazon S3

In this release, users can directly mount an Amazon S3 bucket.
The advantages of mounting a bucket, instead of S3 as a whole include:

  • Support for all Amazon regions, including US, US West, Europe and Asia Pacific.
  • Can add files in the root of the mounted virtual directory, while Amazon S3 doesn't support files at the root level.
  • Less buckets to manage in Amazon S3

Support Dunkel Cloud Storage.

Dunkel is an Amazon S3 compatible cloud storage in Germany.

Support Converted Google Apps accounts

A new mount called Converted Google Apps Account is added. It can be used for those Google Apps accounts which have been converted to Google Docs.

For more details about Converted Google Apps account, please read this article.

Support Hebrew In Management Console

Support different international characters in Management Console.

Sync Local Documents to Google Storage

In the past when I felt that a document was important, I would email it to my Gmail account and label it with “important document”. After all, it has over 7G free space and growing.

Now there are more choices. First is the Google Docs account can be used for storage. Second is the Google Storage for Developer. If you do a Google search for “Google Storage”, you can see these two options.

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Next I would need a desktop tool that can allow me to build a folder link between my local folder and my Google storage accounts. Gladinet Cloud Desktop would be fine to do so.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cloud Storage: Who is Watching and Using?

In the age of cloud computing, who are the early adopters?

Is the desktop trending towards something simple like an iPad or a Chrome OS? Or is it trending towards Octa-Core/Windows 8/30’’ LCD super computing machine? Which kind of user benefits more from it, with cloud storage?

In last week’s download.com statistics, 30% of the total Gladinet Cloud Desktop download were 64-bit downloads.  Overall 14% of the downloads are 64-bit.  Overall, 64-bit download from download.com is around 20% (such as winrar).  In general, 64-bit machines are better equipped than 32-bit machines. This means Gladinet software is installed on more powerful machines.

Which Google User Are You?

You may be a personal Google account user, with a standard gmail.com account.

You may be a Google Apps account user, with a mycomany-domain.com account hosted by Google Apps.

If you have a Google Apps email account such as joesmith@mycompany-domain.com but use a Google personal account service such as Google Picasa, who are you then?

Our users have brought to our attention of a recent Google Apps change that attempts to grand unify the two sides together as one account. There isn’t much documentation on the Google web sites since it is still under the Trusted Tester program. All the documentation we found refers to the mysterious  “Transition”.  Now we are trying to piece together the “Transition” here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Look At the AT&T Synaptic Storage Bill

 

If cloud storage is like hard drive, people will use it like a hard drive.

When I have a hard drive, I knew the free space is growing smaller and smaller. Eventually  it is full, crying for a bigger one. However, when it comes to cloud storage, you don’t see the smaller and smaller free space, you see more and more usage.

Eventually you are wondering, how did I store so much in the cloud?

This is exactly how I feel when I am looking at the audit trail of my AT&T synaptic storage consumption. Eventually the bill is the limiting factor of how much I put in to the cloud.

Offsite Backup to Cloud Storage

Offsite backup is like backing up to external drive. As long as the drive is there, people will use it to backup stuff. Some will do on-demand drag and drop of important documents. Some will go buy a $50 backup software to automate the process. Bigger companies may have more dedicate resources and software to handle it.

You may found a backup software on the Seagate external hard drive you brought home. On the other hand, you may very rarely buy a copy of the backup software and found an external drive attached.

Cloud Storage is like the external hard drive. As long as it is there and accessible, people will use it for backup purpose. Companies like Carbonite and Mozy specialized in online backup with online storage attached. These are the vertical players that bundles the desktop application, backup software and the online storage all together.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cloud Gateway to Google Storage

In the eyes of cloud storage service providers such as Google Storage, any On-Ramps tools, desktop clients, edge devices or appliance that can talk to Google Storage is a gateway.

In the eyes of end users or IT admin, A cloud gateway refers to a central access point that does the translation of LAN based file protocol such as CIFS (Microsoft net share) to the cloud storage REST protocol. 

As a non Google storage user, Google storage may refer to the Gmail storage, Google Docs storage. As a Google Storage user, the Google Storage may refers to the Google Storage for Developer (which announced at Google I/O this year).

It doesn’t matter which definition you take, Gladinet got it all covered. The 3 products Gladinet Cloud Desktop, Gladinet CloudAFS and Gladinet Cloud Backup can build the bridge between local access and the remote storage from Google.