Hybrid Cloud File Server Features

Cloud Network Share

How do you elevate your local file server network share into the cloud? You can set a cloud network drive for your remote workers for shared web folders at work or home office.

A Cloud Network Drive is Much Easier to Use

Sync Folders vs. Network Drives?

Many public cloud services provide you with a desktop folder, inside which files are synchronized with a third party site and ready to be synchronized again to remote PC, Mac, and mobile devices. This method works well for a personal user. However, employees may have a different daily workflow in businesses depending on the drive mapping feature to work on files and folders from within a PC drive letter or a Mac mounted volume.

When it comes to shared folders at work, the network drive is one of the standard practices. Shared network drives, or file server network shares, are typically large and have a granular folder and file permissions attached.

These two factors (size and permission) promote cloud network share over synchronization folders when it comes to cloud storage services.

Specific Pain Points for Synchronization Folders

Big Folder and Large File

When folders are big, it requires a lot more bandwidth and local disk space to synchronize to a local folder. When the files are large, unnecessary synchronization saturates the local area network bandwidth and slows everyone down.

Permissions and Control

When the shared folder has granular permissions set, the synchronization folder method breaks down completely. The synchronization folder will typically need to have the files pulled into the local folder before users can read and write operations.

Sensitive Data

Employees sometimes need to work on sensitive data such as those files and folders under non-disclosure agreements. Businesses usually manage these files and folders on a need-to-know basis with limited exposure. The synchronization folder will pull in these kinds of files.

Evolution of the Cloud Network Drive and Network Shares

In 2009, Gladinet released Gladinet Cloud Desktop, one of the first cloud drive mapper tools that can map a network drive to Microsoft SkyDrive (now OneDrive), Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc. cloud storage services. Very soon after, some cloud storage services showed some limitations. For example, OneDrive has a total path length limitation, and Google Drive allows duplicated file names in a folder. The restrictions were so severe that replacing traditional file server workloads with cloud storage services was not 100% possible. A generic cloud drive mapping tool doesn't work because it reduces itself to a common subset of features among different benefits.

As we worked with more and more business use cases, people tell us to focus on solving file server problems. Specifically, they want us to lift their file servers into the cloud while providing drive mapping and file locking features from the cloud. There is a need for a cloud network share with the following features.

On-Demand Sync

The cloud drive brings in files from the cloud repository only when necessary and only when permission allows.

Endpoint Protection

Encrypt files sitting in the local cache and backup local files and folders to a company-designated cloud location.

Version Control

Inside the cloud drive, users can revert the files under version control to specific dates and times when necessary.

Drive Mapping

Provide a cloud network drive to the company-wide cloud network shares or the hybrid local file server network shares.

File Locking

Provide a global file locking feature for employees that may need to work on the same set of documents.

Offline Editing

Employees may prefer to work on files and folders in an offline detached mode (such as doing work during flights).

Migrate Your File Server Network Share to Cloud

Problem Statement

You have an existing file server like Windows 2016 in the local office. Everyone in the local office is using a network share from the file servers. Some users from the branch office may need to access the file server share from outside through VPN as well.

There are multiple problems that you are concerned about at this moment.

First, you are concerned about the life of the file server, and if the server stops functioning, you need to have a quick way to continue the work. However, if you can extend the life of the file server and maximize the return of the previous investment on the file server, you don't want to throw the file server out any time soon.

Second, the remote users complain about the speed of access to the file server since they need to go through a VPN. It is cumbersome and slow. You are also looking for a VPN alternative method to access the file server.

In general, you have built your company infrastructure around Microsoft File Server and Windows network share. You would like to extend the file server with cloud capability and extend the file server network share to the cloud so remote office and branch office will have easy access, while cloud is serving as a backup and recovery media to the file server.

Modernizing Windows File Server

CentreStack gives on-premise file server new remote web access, file sharing & mobile application capabilities while retaining the old security safeguards, permission controls, and data ownership. It allows you to share files and folders with existing permission! More importantly, CentreStack presents a cloud network share interface with cloud network drive capability to employees working remotely.

CentreStack Solution

CentreStack File Server Agent allows you to attach File Server Network Share to the cloud. Once it is connected, it synchronizes data to the cloud storage service in the background. Meanwhile, the file server content can be immediately assigned to a team folder, allowing remote users immediate access.

On the one hand, it solves the access problem for the remote user. On the other hand, you have a backup copy in the cloud. Once the local folder on the file server is entirely in sync with the cloud storage content, you are ready to shift the center of the team workspace from the local file server to the cloud.

File Server Migration & Remote Access Architecture

Step 1: Auto-Synchronization

After installing CentreStack, the Cloud Server Agent is installed on the local file server. This setup will automatically synchronize file shares, AD users, and NTFS folder permissions to the CentreStack installation in the cloud.

Step 2: Mapped Drive Access

After login, users automatically get a mapped drive that contains all the shares they have access to, just as if they were on-premise.

Step 3: Client File Server Sync

CentreStack maintains synchronization with the client file server until it has been retired. It also remains the primary source for permissions and acts as an optional proxy to the local domain controller.

Step 4: Quick Access

When a user attempts to open a file on the endpoint, it is downloaded from the backend storage configured for CentreStack and cached locally for fast future access.

Cloud Network Share Highlights

Windows & Mac

Remotely access file shares from a drive letter on Windows and a mounted volume on Mac

On-Demand Synchronization

Minimize storage and bandwidth consumption by automatically syncing and caching only the files you need.

End-point Protection

Encrypt remote agent caches or revoke remote agent access privileges from a central management console.

Offline Access

Access shared files and shared folders in an offline mode detached from the Internet and synchronize when back online.

Folder Permissions

Define different permissions for folders at different levels of the directory structure or inherit from NTFS permissions directly.

Hybrid Cloud File Server

CentreStack can mirror a local file server into cloud storage for a hybrid cloud server setup.

Active Directory

From internal Active Directory users to external clients and partners, you can define user rights for folder sharing.

Version Control

CentreStack adds version control and file protection from cloud storage to the local file server.

Hybrid Local and Cloud Network Share Use Cases

CentreStack's ability to utilize standard letter-drive mappings for cloud storage simplifies adoption, access, and centralized collaboration. Many other solutions offer savings and productivity boost from cloud file sharing (e.g., Egnyte and Dropbox). Still, CentreStack provides the unique ability to create your cloud-based file server with custom branding while retaining complete control of the storage and servers involved. CentreStack is also unique in its deep integration with NTFS and Active Directory and creating a hybrid cloud file server environment that preserves drive mapping, file locking, and familiar permission control user experiences.

Remote Access To File Shares Without a VPN

Easy remote access to file server network shares with a mapped drive and without a VPN.

Mobile Device Access to Hosted File Shares

Web browser-based access and mobile application access to data-center hosted file server network shares.


Cloud Network Share in Connection with Local File Server

CentreStack includes a cloud storage initial seeding feature that seamlessly migrates a local file server into a cloud file server for cloud drive mapping and access from PCs and Macs. To do so, CentreStack can either install agent software on your file server or directly mount network shares from your file server network share when direct access is available. It intelligently manages local and cloud storage to provide a range of cloud enablement options.

Active Directory security and NTFS permission models are also maintained as if nothing changed. Users get a familiar drive letter to access files from remote locations with distributed file locking to prevent collaboration collisions.

Retire File Servers

Businesses find themselves having to purchase new file servers every few years. These capital expenditures can be eliminated by migrating file shares to the cloud with CentreStack. Users can continue to work on the existing file shares without disruption and the file server can be retired once the migration is completed.

Remote Access and File Sharing

Simplify remote access and file sharing with familiar interfaces on any computer or device. Windows and Mac desktops display natively mapped drives in Explorer and Finder. That same experience is presented on iOS and Android devices like iPads, iPhones and Pixels or can be viewed from popular web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Simplify File Shares Access

Easily collaborate with business partners by providing them with access to a limited set of internal files or folders. Share files with non-AD users while maintaining administrative controls. Simplify multi-site collaboration with automatic version controls and file locking.

Reduce Costs by Replacing VPN

Eliminate the overhead and support tickets commonly associated with VPN file sharing, Always On VPN or Direct Access. Automatically use existing users and permissions to save setup time and money. The cloud mapped drive is always-on without the VPN connections.

Simplify Management

Eliminate the need to manage servers on-premises by retiring them to the cloud. Centrally manage users, access controls, and storage for each tenant. Easily keep track of where the data is, who has access and how it’s being shared.

Centrally Manage Permissions

For complete control and visibility, granular permissions can be managed from the file server that was their source, or natively with CentreStack. If the file server is retired, CentreStack becomes the new permissions master.

Maintain Compliance

Centrally manage users, access controls, and storage for each tenant. 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.

Increase Productivity

Provide an always-on mapped drive that works anywhere on any device and allows mobile users to access internal file shares or cloud file servers easily. Users are already familiar with the mapped drive, and no extra training is required.

Enhance Data Security

Data protection comes with military-grade encryption, secure connections, and more. Automatically use existing users and permissions to save setup time and money.

On-Demand Synchronization

Cloud mapped drive leverage local cache and on-demand download to reduce bandwidth usage and endpoint storage consumption. Cloud mapped drive technology works with a laptop with a small local SSD drive.

Multi-Tenant, White Labeled Solution

CentreStack provides a white-labeled platform that makes it easy for MSP partners to build a private cloud file server solution based on infrastructure from Amazon, Azure, or Google.

A Private Cloud Alternative

For data privacy, security, and control, CentreStack provides a better alternative to Dropbox and SharePoint using any private cloud or on-premise file server network shares.

Ready to boost mobile productivity and enable the workforce to work from home today?