We leverage Azure storage services to set up hybrid file servers between the local corporate network and Microsoft Azure for remote file access, secure file sharing, and data protection!
There are many ways businesses can take advantage of Microsoft Azure Cloud Platforms. For example, moving file servers to Azure data centers is one way to take advantage of the high bandwidth and high throughput of Microsoft's global data centers. Another way is to set up Azure File Sync, so on-premise file servers can synchronize with Azure Files so local Windows workload can move to Azure Cloud.
However, neither way provide remote workers a convenient way to access file servers using web browsers and mobile applications, nor do they provide easy drive mapping and file locking solution like the old on-premise file servers did.
A prevalent practice is to move corporate file servers to Azure Compute as-is. The significant benefit is to leverage the advantages provided by Microsoft's global Azure data centers in terms of electric power, bandwidth, and throughput. However, they still need to use a VPN agent on their remote devices to access the file servers when it comes to remote workers. These workers are still subject to the weakness of a VPN. For example, these weakness includes offline editing, extensive folder browsing, and large file transfer.
The standard way to access file servers in Azure is by using a VPN agent. However, VPN requires an active connection to the file servers and doesn't support offline editing mode. As a result, Internet glitches can disrupt a user's typical workflow.
An excellent way to use azure file servers is to map a drive to the file server via a VPN. The frequent request and response message exchange between the local drive and the remote server without local caching makes extensive folder browsing difficult.
Working on large files is also not easy with a VPN agent to connect to the file server sitting in the cloud. Applications such as PhotoShop or AutoCAD usually produce large files and use many linked files. These applications suffer from slow VPN.
Azure File is a cloud storage service that provides Windows File Server compatibility for a Windows workload in the Azure Cloud environment. The benefit of setting up Azure File Sync is that the local file servers' data and content are in sync with contents in the Azure Files. However, Azure Files is more for Windows workloads in the Azure Cloud and not for remote end-users. For example, setting a mapped drive for individual users to use Azure Files is very cumbersome. For example, web browser-based access is not easy, weblink based file sharing is missing and mobile application to access azure files is hard to setup.
Azure files provide a drive mapping interface to connect to the azure files service. However, if an end-user wants to access files and folders from a web browser, like how they would generally access OneDrive and SharePoint files, it is not easy with Azure Files.
Remote workers are familiar with online file sharing features provided by OneDrive and SharePoint services. There is no similar functionality with Azure Files because Azure files are more designed for Windows workload (like virtual machines) in the Azure environment.
End-users are familiar with mobile applications that come with OneDrive and SharePoint. Some third-party applications provide SMB/CIFS-based file server connectivity from mobile devices. However, the SMB interface is cumbersome for end-users.
CentreStack offers business owners and managed service providers a better cloud strategy for on-premise file servers using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform and services. With CentreStack, you can immediately add mobile access, secure file sharing, disaster prevention, and recovery to your file servers on-premises. Still, these features do not depend on rapid cloud migration, which can be delayed indefinitely or completed at a comfortable pace.
A solution without such limitations
Take advantage of the cloud efficiency and cloud mobility doesn't mean you have to live with SharePoint limitations.
With Gladinet solutions, you can either cloud-enable existing file servers AS-IS or use Windows Azure to set up a hybrid cloud file server environment with your current file servers. Either way, there are no limitations.
Mapped drive over HTTPS channel to the corporate file server is a crucial feature. Employees are familiar with a mapped drive, and no additional training is required.
Corporate users already have corporate identities in Active Directory and related Active Directory federation service and SAML single-sign-on. They don't need yet another set of credentials to access a file-sharing solution.
Most of the file-sharing solutions offer manual file locking in the forms of "file check-in" and "check out." Gladinet provides automatic file locking by detecting file opening requests. When Microsoft Word is opening a file, the file locking process will be initiated automatically and finished automatically when the file editing finishes.
Finally, the ability to integrate with Active Directory and NTFS permission makes it so much easier for system administrators to set up the permission control. The permission features make the Gladinet solution stands out among the peers.
CentreStack, with the Azure blob storage API integration, adds secure remote access and file sharing, disaster prevention, and recovery, to file server on-premises with easy cloud migration to Azure Cloud under the hood.
CentreStack combines file servers and Azure Storage for secure remote access and mobile file sharing.
CentreStack leverages Azure as a central cloud file repository with version control, file change history, and audit tracing.
CentreStack sets up a hybrid deployment between local file servers and azure storage so to enable seamless migration.
CentreStack adds secure file-sharing and remote file access capabilities by leveraging Azure storage services (including Azure blob storage and Azure file service). At the same time, it has tight integration with on-premise file servers as well. As a result, CentreStack enables files and folders to flow between on-premise file servers and Azure cloud and turns into an Internet-facing hybrid file server solution and a secure file sharing solution.
Are you familiar with these SharePoint Online limitations?
Remotely access files in cloud storage from a mapped drive letter without the need for a VPN. Mobile applications included!
Minimize storage and bandwidth consumption by automatically syncing and caching only the files you need.
Encrypt remote agent caches or revoke remote agent access privileges from a central management console.
Access shared files and shared folders in an offline mode detached from the Internet and synchronize when back online.
Define different permissions for folders at different levels of the directory structure or inherit from NTFS permissions directly.
Web based secure data room allows view-only access to shared folders with download disabled.
From internal Active Directory users to external clients and partners, you can define user rights for folder sharing.
CentreStack adds version control and file protection from cloud storage to the local file server.
CentreStack File Server Agent installed on the file server that will migrate to Azure cloud over time. Supports Windows 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 (32-bit/64-bit).
If the file server is in the same network as the CentreStack server, a direct connection is also possible (see Option #2). The file server is optional if you have other ways to migrate data to Azure and want a simple locally mapped drive to access the files and folders via a familiar Windows Explorer interface.
Suppose you've already migrated local file server data into the Azure data center with Azure compute virtual machines. In that case, CentreStack provides a direct file access solution from remote devices and mobile devices.
CentreStack file server integration and enablement solves these problems by installing agent software on your file server or directly mounting your file server network share into CentreStack when direct access is available. It intelligently manages local and cloud storage together to provide a range of cloud enablement options.
The active directory security and NTFS permission model is most importantly maintained as if it was never changed. And drive mapping functionality is kept, so end users get a familiar drive letter to access files from remote locations. File locking is also maintained for multiple users collaborating on the same file at the same time.
The result is that the file server network shares are synchronized into Azure, and CentreStack provides a complete access solution from Windows mapped drive; Mac Finder mounted volume; to iOS and Android applications; and to access the Azure storage securely.
CentreStack includes military-grade endpoint encryption to protect files sitting on remote devices, in addition to data-in-transit encryption for file transfer and data-at-rest encryption for data storage.
It takes years for businesses to develop the current permission structure that safeguards files and folders in local file servers. CentreStack maintains the existing NTFS permissions and safeguards.
Businesses can offer a file sharing and mobile access solution to their employees while owning and controlling everything from the back-end storage services to the front-end mobile applications.
Centrally manage users, access controls, and storage. Easily keep track of where the data is, who has access and how it’s being shared. Admins can perform audits of GDPR and HIPAA compliance or keep track of any changes that have been made to individual files.
CentreStack gives businesses a central file repository that they own and can consolidate file servers into a centralized cloud file server instead of allowing files to scatter and leak to 3rd party services.
Integrate natively with Active Directory, so user identities and file accesses are centrally controlled as before.
CentreStack has the flexibility to be deployed on-premises, in Azure data centers, or any data center around the world that is the closest to your business.
CentreStack provides a white-labeled platform that makes it easy for MSP partners to build a private cloud file server solution.
Attach local file server folders to your CentreStack server. Once attached, it is accessible online, enabling remote access. At the same time, the original network shares remain accessible over the local area network.
Alternatively, file server content can be migrated over time to Azure to form a hybrid environment. In addition to remote access, this enables a background backup process for business continuity.
Create a global namespace directory structure unifying different file servers into a single folder structure, enabling multi-site collaboration. It is a distributed file system in the cloud, backed by Azure cloud.
You can also leverage the features above by using the existing file server from Azure Compute virtual machines as a private cloud.