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Friday, October 29, 2010

OpenStack Windows Client

Every Hosting Provider is building its own cloud storage solutions. The situation is either build it or lose business to whoever has it, such as Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud Files or Windows Azure Blob Storage.

Now the question is how to build it fast and take it to market soon. In this sense, OpenStack Object Storage is very attractive. First it is open source. Second, it is based on Rackspace Cloud Files so it has big commercial companies supporting the initiative.

 

openstack-logoIf you are a service provider built on OpenStack storage, you are thinking about how to deliver that storage to user’s desktop. If you are a SMB user, you are thinking about how to use the storage from your desktop too. Either way, you are looking for a Windows client that supports OpenStack storage.

With the release of version 2.4, OpenStack is supported in Gladinet Cloud Desktop, CloudAFS and Cloud Backup, collectively the Gladinet Cloud Storage Access Suite.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Google Storage vs. Amazon S3

If you have a Google Storage for Developers account (through invitation only), good for you because you can continue to use the 100GB free storage as long as Google Storage is still in preview mode.

If you don’t have a Google Storage for Developers account already, you can sign up with billing information. You don’t get the 100GB free storage but you can use up to 1 Terabyte of storage as long as your billing info allows.

It is now in this Preview/Production mixed mode. Before long, Google Storage may enter into the full production mode, competing with Amazon S3 for the cloud storage business.

If you are new to the cloud storage, you may be looking for some review materials to decide which one you will use. This article will compare them from different aspects.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Google Storage for Developer–How to Use?

Yesterday I received a Google Storage for Developer Update email from the Google Storage Team.

The Email

Here is a quote from the email:

Thank you for using Google Storage for Developers. We write today to make sure you're aware that we've changed our service.

Increased Account Limits & Billing

When we began the Google Storage for Developers preview, all accounts were free and limited to 100 GB of storage. Google Storage accounts can now access increased storage by providing credit card billing information. Additionally, for accounts with billing we provide a service level agreement (SLA). Find our published service level agreement at: https://code.google.com/apis/storage/docs/sla.html.

Accounts with billing can now use up to 1 Terabyte of storage by default. If you need more capacity, just let us know! Contact information is on our FAQ page: http://code.google.com/apis/storage/docs/faq.html.

The Change

Officially still in preview mode,  Google Storage starts to collect billing information, inching closer to full production mode.

For you, a home user or an SMB owner, now you have one more cloud storage vendor to offer service for your use.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cloud Storage Strategy Series V–Mobile Workers

When you have people working from home or visiting customers, you have a mobile worker. Traditional way of providing mobile worker support is through VPN, virtual private network, which is before we saw the Cloud Storage revolution.

There are problems that VPN can’t solve. For example, if you are on the customer site, VPN back to corporation may be blocked. If you are at the airport, the WiFi at the airport may have certain ports blocked as well.

With cloud storage, you now have another option for the mobile workers. Since cloud storage is off-premise by nature, it is easier to access when the worker is on the road.

Cloud Storage on Desktop

One of the solution is to attach Cloud Storage to mobile worker’s laptop. Gladinet Cloud Desktop is the solution for this.

(1) It can map a network drive to cloud storage. Users can save documents directly to the network drive.

(2) It can setup a synchronized local folder. Contents saved to the local folder will be synchronized to cloud storage.

Once the mobile worker save documents into the cloud virtual drive, the documents will be sent to the cloud storage account setup by the company. For example, sales proposals, customer contact information can all be saved back to the cloud storage.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rackspace Cloud Files vs. Amazon S3 vs. Azure

As usual, when the support of a new cloud storage service provider is added to the Gladinet platform, we will do basic speed test against supported service providers to see how they compare to each other.

This time we will compare Rackspace Cloud Files with Amazon S3 and Windows Azure Blob Storage.

The Test

Gladinet Cloud Desktop is used for the test. Cloud Files, Amazon S3 and Azure storage accounts are mounted into Windows Explorer as virtual folders.

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How to Map a Network Drive to Rackspace CloudFiles

With the release of Gladinet Cloud Desktop version 2.4, Rackspace CloudFiles is now supported.

With Gladinet Cloud Desktop, you can map a network drive to Rackspace CloudFiles and do drag and drop transfers. You can sync a local folder’s content to Rackspace CloudFiles. You can also enable CDN for the container so the files you transferred up to CloudFiles can be integrated to CDN services.

Step 1 – Mount the CloudFiles Account

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Now CloudFiles is in Windows Explorer.

What is New in Gladinet Version 2.4

Gladinet Cloud Access Suite now reached version 2.4. 

New Service Providers Supported

This release adds support for Rackspace CloudFiles, OpenStack Object Storage, CAStor Storage and Google Apps Premier.

This adds to the long list of cloud storage service providers that the Gladinet Platform supports.

New Package Bundle

Partners and customers are guiding us on the need of different access scenarios to support. As a result, Gladinet Cloud Desktop installation now has Cloud Backup available as a separate add-on. It is easier to manage for customers and partners that need both products on a single PC.

Version 2.4 also marks the first time the simultaneous release of 3 different products across the Gladinet Cloud Access Suite. Cloud Desktop is immediately available off the Gladinet web site. CloudAFS and Cloud Backup will be available in 1 week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cloud Storage Strategy Series IV – Sharing & Collaboration

When you have a 6-person branch office or a 8-person sales team, you have a need to share documents with everyone and you don’t have a big budget for on-site IT department. This is when cloud storage comes in handy.

There are multiple ways to share documents.

Try Google Docs

First of all, you can use Google Docs. Google Docs is both an online application and cloud storage. It enables everyone to share and edit documents online at http://docs.google.com.

It will be convenient if the rest of the company infrastructure is on Google, such as Gmail for email service. There is a tight integration between Google Docs and Gmail. What if the company email infrastructure is with a different service and everyone else is using Microsoft Office and Outlook? In this case, you can use Gladinet Cloud Desktop to mount Google Docs as a virtual drive so you can conveniently transform files back and forth between desktop and Google Docs.

Shared Virtual Drive

The second way to share documents is to have a shared virtual drive, using cloud storage. For example, you can have a shared Amazon S3 account or a shared AT&T Synaptic Storage account. Using Gladinet Cloud Desktop again, you can map the shared account into everyone’s desktop. Since everyone maps into the same cloud storage account, you share documents as long as you have Internet connections.  

Friday, October 15, 2010

Simple NAS Cloud Replication to Google Storage and Microsoft Azure

Storage Newsletter published a recent article, “We Want Simple NAS for Replication Only”. The author, Jean-Jacques Maleval, discounts existing NAS solutions for lack of simplicity and then states, “We just wish a simple, affordable and secure product to have our data regularly copied outside on a NAS connected to Ethernet…” He continues to suggest a reciprocal arrangement where companies A and B each serve as an offsite backup location for the other’s NAS. The article lists several requirements:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cloud Storage Strategy Series II–Content Delivery

Cloud Storage has many benefits, one of them being Content Delivery. By nature, objects inside cloud storage have URLs. With URLs, it is easy to integrate these objects with Content Delivery Network and deliver the objects to edge locations around the world.

We kicked start the Cloud Storage Strategy Series of articles last week covering the disaster recovery. This article will discuss another cloud storage use case about content delivery.

The big 3 in the cloud storage services could be Amazon S3, Rackspace CloudFiles and Windows Azure Storage. They all support integration with Content Delivery.  Below are sample lists of Amazon CloudFront and Azure CDN edge locations. Rackspace partners with Limelight Network, which has many edge locations too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Windows Azure Storage Desktop Integration

When you hear of Windows Azure Storage, you may be thinking it is a developer’s storage. First of all, you may see it in action from Visual Studio 2010. Second, you may be hearing it together with a geeky term – Azure Blob Storage. Since you are not a developer, you dismiss it and walk on.

Now wait a second; clear your mind;  picture Windows Azure Storage as an external drive, offsite hosted by Microsoft, with drag and drop integration from Windows Explorer, would you still ignore?

After all, Windows Azure Storage is just one of the many cloud storage, such as Amazon S3, Google Storage for Developer, AT&T Synaptic Storage, Rackspace CloudFiles and so on.

As soon as the Windows Azure Storage can be integrated to your desktop, you can put it to use with familiar Windows user experience.

Cloud Storage Strategy Series I – Disaster Recovery

Cloud Storage is a natural fit for Disaster recovery. It could also be the most prominent use case for cloud storage because the storage is offsite and faster than tape. 

Step 1 – Find a Cloud Storage Provider

Many will pick either Amazon S3 or Rackspace CloudFiles. These two are the biggest 2 cloud storage service providers.

However, we see many more options starting this year. For example, Windows Azure started in January. Google Storage announced around May. EMC World announced the EMC Atmos. At the end of the year, almost all major MSPs will have cloud storage offering.

This article discussed in more details on how to pick a cloud storage service.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cloud Storage Strategy How-Tos

As the CIO, you have been thinking about Cloud Storage for sometime. How to best leverage the capability and cut cost? How to plan for the long term with integration and migration? There are many questions to answer.

This article will discuss several repeating patterns from our customers.

(1) What problem the cloud storage solves for you?

1.a Offsite Backup and Disaster Recovery

Cloud storage is excellent for backup since it is offsite storage by nature.

1.b Integration with Content Delivery Network

You have documents and media files that you need to push to the edge of the world for your customer. Cloud Storage is very good with the integration with CDN services.

1.c Sharing Documents with Customers.

You don’t like to pass documents back and forth in email attachments with customers. You need a central repository that you can share.

1.d Sharing Documents between Your Remote Sites.

Overtime, you remote sites accumulated storage silos that you can’t share with other remote sites. You need a centralized repository to share.

1.e Central Repository for Mobile Workers

You may have sales team visiting customers. You need to give them a way to store sales proposals and other information to a centralized location for your mobile workers.

1.f Sharing Documents for Employees On-Site

This typically involves out-dated NAS device, old file server that people used to share. The devices or servers need to be replaced. While you are replacing them, replacing with something cloud-enabled.

In the coming weeks, we will have articles discussing each individual cloud storage use cases. Please bookmark http://gladinet.blogspot.com and check later. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Google Docs Desktop Client

Google Docs is a very comprehensive online office suite and collaboration tools. It is feature rich but it is browser only, meaning you will have to operate it from within a web browser.

It is good that it is browser only so you don’t have to install any software.

It is bad that it is browser only because it can’t interoperate with locally installed application. Nor can it interoperate with other cloud-based storage solution such as SkyDrive, Amazon S3 either.

Several Use Cases for a Desktop Client

(1) A local word document, local PDF document, how to send them to Google Docs easily

(2) Google Docs only documents, how to back them up to local so they can be archived or edited using local applications.

(3) Many local documents, how to migrate to Google Docs.

(4) How to leverage both Google Docs and SkyDrive for same set of documents, for redundancy.

Gladinet Cloud Desktop is designed for the above use cases.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Cloud Storage Gateway is not Enough

If Cloud Storage is new to you, Cloud Storage Gateway is newer.

Cloud storage could be a natural fit for disaster recovery and offsite backup. Cloud Storage Gateway or just Cloud Gateway can be the simple solution you are looking for to leverage different cloud storage services.

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

Old Tricks in a New Hat

Since the primary job of a cloud gateway is translation of the newer REST protocol to the older file system protocol, it gives you a quick path to cloud storage without rewriting your on-premise applications. For example, you can use Gladinet CloudAFS (AKA Gladinet Cloud Gateway) to quickly enable your existing file server with tier2 storage from many major cloud storage service providers.

However, if cloud storage is just some storage with old file system interface, it wouldn’t be too exciting, would it?

Friday, October 1, 2010

EMC Atmos in a Nutshell

About a quarter ago, EMC announced that it will  no longer be supporting “production usage” of its Atmos Online cloud storage service. Instead, EMC encourage existing customers to move to its cloud storage service partners, such as AT&T Synaptic Storage, Peer 1 CloudOne and etc. That generated quite some publicity about the comes and goes of cloud storage services.

What is Atmos?

For curiosity , what exactly is EMC Atmos Online? To answer this, we must first introduce EMC Atmos.   EMC Atmos is a cloud storage product including both hardware and software. It is designed with scalability in mind for public cloud and big enterprise. It is an object storage with a UUID assigned to each object, while maintaining a HTTP REST interface to the underlying object storage.

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EMC Atmos Online was a cloud storage service built on top of Atmos. It first started as a developer/partner site for partners to develop solutions around the service offering. Later it went through a brief period of production service before it was switched back to a developer only service.