Storage Field Day 7 – File Transporter: public cloud ease with private cloud control

Connected Data explaining the public cloud economics and the financial squeeze on the current offerings.The Connected Data / File Transporter presentation kicked off with a rather interesting look at the cloud computing market of today, more specifically the economics of public cloud and the other drawbacks it has. Many of us have seen “the cloud” grow over the past years and still, the marketing behind it is aggressive. Most industry events are still fully focused on “moving to the cloud”: EMC World 2015 was all about the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and how to move to it, companies I talk with still “want to move to the public cloud because unicorns” and if you open a random IT magazine you’ll see clouds every other page paragraph line.

Something I noticed the past couple of years is the big difference between the adoption of public cloud in the US versus Europe: I feel that the US is more eager to jump into a cloud than us Europeans. Sure, people use cloud services over here as well: I use Dropbox privately to share some files with friends and I also store some (garbage) emails at Gmail. Talk with a relatively small company and there’s a big chance they use some type of cloud service like Office365, just because the TCO of running that infrastructure for themselves doesn’t add up. But have that same conversation with a larger company and it’s a different story.

I experienced this first hand when I was contracted for a company that tried running a Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) PoC: it was vastly more expensive than running the same infrastructure in-house, as soon as you needed something “custom” the service provided was inferior and even more expensive. And then there’s the security risk: where are your intellectual property, patents and other valuable information stored, under what privacy laws (we in Europe have separate laws for each country), which government agencies can access it (think Patriot Act and the NSA snooping around), etc. That PoC ended rather quickly in favor of running all those virtual machines in-house…

The recent cloud security and privacy issues just reinforce that vibe.

Don’t get me wrong here: I like the concept of cloud in where the end-user can push a button, something automated happens and voila, service is provided to the customer and the business can do its thing with agility. Ease of use is paramount and the DropBox example is the perfect example of this: file sharing made easy. If your own in-house file sharing services are a pain to use, your users will start looking for and using easier methods and you can play catch-up. But call me old-fashioned (I think I just aged 20 years typing that): if you have a reasonable size company, keeping your data on hardware you own and control yourself makes more sense, both financially and security wise.

Users want the ease of the public cloud, IT staff want the control of a private cloud

This resonates perfectly with the Connected Data File Transporter message. Public cloud ease with private cloud control. You can access your data from all over the world, but the hardware sits on your own desk/in your own datacenter. You buy it, you control it. Connected Data offers several models, ranging from business solutions to products for individuals.

File Transporter models

This enables a business to build for example a private cloud with a big File Transporter at the HQ and smaller File Transporter at each branch/sales office: not only is this your disaster recovery copy of the data but also your Transporter client on your device (laptop or smartphone) will identify the closest/fastest Transporter and give you fast access to your files independently of your location.

Each Transporter talks to a central service at Connected Data, identifies to which organization/account it belongs, who should have access to what files and allows you to manage the Transporters. No worries, your data never leaves your File Transporter(s)!

Security and privacy wise: data transfers are encrypted using TLS. The connection between a client and a Transporter depends on the network topology: if the Transporter is local to the client a point to point connection is created. Should your Transporter be remote, either UPnP or a hole-punching method like the methods pioneered by Skype will be selected.

Should one of your Transporters be compromised (e.g. an employee “forgets” to return it after being fired or there’s a break-in at your remote office), you can send that device a WIPE command. As soon as the device powers on and accesses the central Connected Data service (which it needs to before being accessible), the first command it receives is a WIPE. Unfortunately the devices currently do not support data at rest encryption yet, so that’s still a risk (and one of the good reasons you should keep your File Transporter in a safe location and maybe not in your laptop bag), Fortunately, data at rest encryption is scheduled to be added soon. Do check Ray’s post over here, with some additional information on the File Transporter security.

My two cents

Connected Data provided all SFD7 delegates with a 1TB File Transporter to play around with during the session and to keep afterwards for testing. When we started uploading presentations and pictures from our days in Silicon Valley, there were some issues where duplicates of the files were kept. Enrico contacted the support desk and a patch which addressed this problem was released in a matter of weeks.

File Transporter iPhone clientMy Transporter is up and running at home. There are clients for a wide variety of operating systems: I’m running the Windows client on my laptop and a smartphone client on my Apple iOS device. The clients install quickly and are easy to use, although the Windows client does seem to need a full laptop reboot after each update which is kind of annoying. Dan Frith wrote a short post about the clients and how to transfer files.  For me, it just does what it should do: I can grab my phone, browse to the SFD7 folder and open a presentation or picture without any problems.

If you’re one of those companies where privacy and security is paramount, but you see your users using Dropbox anyway “because it’s easy to use”, have a look at the Connected Data File Transporter solutions. It will allow you to keep the data in house but also provide the end-users with a familiar, easy to use file sharing option so they don’t feel the urge to start exploring other options on their own without IT mandate…

If you want to see more of the administrative possibilities on the business models, watch the demo video over here.

Disclaimer: Even though GestaltIT paid for the flight, hotel and various other expenses, I was not compensated for my time and there is no requirement to blog or tweet about any of the presentations. Everything I post is of my own accord. Connected Data provided each SFD7 delegate with a 1TB File Transporter to configure and keep.

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