Mount a Share on FileCloud with NFS and CIFS for Easy Access From Anywhere

Today, we live in a data-driven world, and every transaction that we do is driving more data into some Servers somewhere. All this data would be stored in some form, depending on the Operating System (OS) of the File Server, and are called File Systems. The enormous amount of data that is being generated, as well as the cost to maintain the related infrastructure, was a cause of concern.  Added to this, getting a globalized workforce to seamlessly deliver by working collaboratively was another challenge that organizations were dealing with. Apart from all this, ‘work on the go’, enabled by anytime access, and trends like BYOD, also looked like good problems to solve.

Perhaps, all these problems gave rise to the Cloud, especially Public Clouds. Necessary infrastructure, security, flexibility, high availability, accessibility and integration with many existing applications and collaboration tools, brought about a change in the way the major organizations worked. Virtual offices are a reality, and the Cloud is the norm. Organizations leveraging on this, benefitted majorly since it meant, productivity was on the rise, as people could work from anywhere, using any device. Perhaps, someone out there foresaw what would happen in times of crisis like the current Coronavirus pandemic. Those organizations which were already on the Cloud-based working model could adapt easily, while the rest have quickly recouped their strategies, so ensure continuity.

Understanding File Systems

Considering that the majority of the File Servers are either on Linux or Windows, the two main types of File Systems are NFS (Network File System) on Linux/UNIX and CIFS(Common Internet File System) on the Windows OS. In computer terminology, these are also called network protocols or file access protocols. This is because they allow the users of the OS to access the files and work with them. NFS was originally conceptualized by Sun Microsystems, in 1984, as a distributed File System, allowing for remote access, over a computer network. It is now managed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It is now a Client-Server application permitting the sharing of files and devices, working on the request-response model.

CIFS was conceptualized in 2000 when the need for file sharing based on Internet protocol was felt. CIFS was designed based on the Client-Server model which was typical of all Internet programs. Hence, a Client would make a request to the server, and the server would send the necessary response. However, CIFS was introduced in a public version by Microsoft as SMB (Server Message Block). CIFS accommodates the sharing of all network devices like printers, files, ports, and more. CIFS is a Client-Server Program, which keeps initiating requests for file access and hence is referred to as a more talkative protocol than NFS.

How do They work?

Most organizations that have been around for a while, irrespective of their size, would be using either NFS or CIFS File systems. An NFS allows remote hosting of resources over a network, by mounting file systems that allow the interaction as if they are local. Mounting is a process, through which the OS makes the files and directories on a storage device (eg.  hard drive, CD-ROM, or network share) accessible for users. This is done, via the computer’s file system, which allows for the interaction. CIFS works with HTTP, and FTP, based on Internet Protocol (IP).

So, all the data that you generate will be going into some file on the Server, which is mounted on a File System. This will include multiple user access with appropriate authentication, and also the files will be arranged under logical directories. Each of these will be shared on a need basis, with necessary permissions to the required operations like edit, delete, copy, etc. A network administrator would have put all these in the required form and the whole system will be running smoothly.

The Challenge

The challenge comes when an organization decides to move the data to the Cloud.  Moving to the Cloud brings in a lot of implications like security, cost, ease of access, and a few other important aspects. However, for the administrators, the biggest challenge would be to recreate their complete working File Systems in the Cloud. No doubt, if required, it can be done; But, it would involve huge efforts and costs, no to mention time and few technical hitches. This exercise can also be error-prone since one small permission here and there missed out, or wrongly assigned, can cause havoc, data loss, availability issues, or even worse, like reputation and revenue loss. Hence, the ideal thing would be to keep your existing File System as is and access it through the Cloud.

You need a Cloud File Server, which will act as the interface to securely, remotely access the on-premise files, from anywhere. This should be hassle-free with no VPN or FTP required, with a branded page that provides easy access. Neither should you burn a hole in your pocket, or have to deal with any access issues. This just might sound too good to be true, but this is precisely what FileCloud offers.

Why FileCloud?

FileCloud offers you the easiest, and most economical option to get remote access to your existing File Server shares, without any VPN or FTP. The remote access could be through a web browser, iPad, iPhone, Android, or any other device. The best part is that it honors all existing NTFS permissions and AD authentication on the folders, and applies them on the basis of user access. There is simply no need to recreate any folder structure or permission lists on FileCloud. It is also easy to set up and can be done in minutes with some basic commands. It is also very easy to learn and use, as it is intuitive. The tutorials can guide you through easily for setting this up. Alternatively, you could also get in touch with our support team, if you need any help.

Here is what you gain, when you choose FileCloud, besides the points mentioned above:

  • Powerful file sharing features, that include Public, Private and password protected shares with expiration dates, and granular subfolder level permissions.
  • Remote connection to files using our mapped drive which allows you to securely map a drive to your work files from anywhere. It automatically picks up an available mount point in your system. Also, the lock system makes it impossible for others to save/edit the file, preventing any conflict. There is no local data storage, which is the need for many highly regulated industries like Healthcare and Finance.
  • Free unlimited client accounts for external file sharing.
  • Leveraging your existing IT infrastructure, you will be Cloud-enabling your File Server, and saving on costly Cloud subscriptions, ensuring maximum ROI.
  • Advanced audit capabilities that provide you share analytics to see what has happened, when, and where.
  • Foolproof security of FileCloud includes 256-bit AES SSL encryption at Rest, two-factor authentication, anti-virus scanning, recycle bin and endpoint device protection.
  • Powerful administration for complete control and visibility through your client portals.
  • Remote wipe of files on client devices (PCs, Mobile apps).
  • Strong metadata management capabilities to classify files using tags and custom meta data sets.
  • Manual retention, share deletion policies and manual classifications.
  • Unparalleled branding/customization (change logo, change login screen, branded file sharing emails, Run on a custom domain).
  • Federated search to support e-discovery and GDPR compliance.
  • Virtual drive & selective sync capabilities.

Probable Use Cases

Healthcare

Organizations in the Healthcare sector have a set of unique challenges that revolve around security, realtime communication, process automation, and strict regulatory compliances like HIPAA. Most of them maintain on-premise data centers as they feel the need to maintain full control, and do not want to disturb their established data centers will all necessary permissions and compliances built-in. If they are into SAAS, service costs may be a concern and may want to improve the speed of response, efficiency, flexibility, and disaster response or recovery capabilities.

Many organizations also look for stability in mission-critical systems aided by smart monitoring and alert applications. They do not want to spend more on infrastructure for this, and wouldn’t want to disrupt their existing structure and operations for this sake.

Financial

Dealing with immense data that is highly confidential and sensitive, and yet having to be customer friendly with initiatives like Mobile First, is a fine balancing act for financial institutions. Delivering on business productivity targets in a highly competitive field is the least of expectations in this sector. Application modernization through process automation, ease of access, parallel workload balancing, scalability, batch processing, high performance, better data analytics aiding fast decision making, complete over their environments, etc. are the unique challenges they look to solve. These are above and beyond the strict regulatory and security requirements and processing historical data on demand.

Implementation 1 – Mass Media

Multinational Mass Media and Information companies like Thomson Reuters, work with clients across the globe. They need to share files and data securely with their clients, and they were looking for a modern solution that met the challenges of replacing their FTP solution. Mitigating security breaches and viruses, and also enabling a robust solution that aided audits and version control was what they were looking for. They wanted to make sure that their administrators could ably manage the whole system, and that all stakeholders would be able to use it easily. Above all, they needed a solution that was easy to deploy in their existing IT infrastructure. This is how they found the right partner in FileCoud. This is what they gained out of it:

  • The security offered by hosting their data on-premises and under complete control of their own IT administrators.
  • Full encryption coupled with user logins secured by two-factor authentication.
  • An easy way for clients to share files that is secure and confidential.
  • Data sharing can be monitored and audited by administrators.
  • Procedures for sharing and backing up files that are easy enough for all employees to follow.

 

Implementation 2 – Healthcare

MedLab stores and shares large amounts of very private, personal information, as they are the regional powerhouses in the field of medical testing. The data needed to be guarded closely within their organization having detailed auditing options to meet the strenuous medical and privacy regulations. While maintaining the control and security of their data, MedLab also needed to be able to share with stakeholders across various platforms, computer types, devices, and operating systems. They needed a solution that worked across all desktop and mobile systems and devices to ensure seamless sharing of data while maintaining total security. This is why they decided to go with File Cloud, thus getting a great partnership going. What they gained from it:

  • Complete control afforded by self-hosted file sharing
  • File sharing that provided exceptional security and privacy
  • Ability to set policy and access controls for complete client privacy

Implementation 3 – Financial Services

First United Bank was looking at file synchronization and sharing, as part of its information management strategy. As a dynamic communication and collaboration solution, it would also support the bank’s mission to “offer innovative financial products and services delivered by responsive, friendly and knowledgeable professionals who will strive to create the ultimate customer experience”.

Together with productivity and efficiency, security is therefore also an important consideration. First United Bank wanted to host its own file sharing and synchronization service in a way that fitted in with its existing IT architecture and our capabilities to protect data across all accessing devices – including monitoring, preventing and resolving any instances of data leakage. Banking and government regulations also required user activities to be recorded within a secure system for audit purposes.

Apart from this, they also were looking for a cost-effective solution that provided mobile access as well and this search landed them with FileCloud. What they gained:

  • Integration into the bank’s IT infrastructure without the need to either move data or reconfigure permissions. Immediate interworking with the existing Active Directory implementation made it easy yet safe to give users access to files and data.
  • Detailed connected devices inventory and activity and access logs brought First United Bank all the tools needed for data compliance too.
  • A solution to their executive team and board members for accessing confidential bank data outside our network using mobile devices.
  • Further ideas about how to enhance the end-user experience, while maintaining full security.