Cloud File Server Access for Windows

The ability to access a Cloud File Server with the Speed and Security of Traditional File Servers is critical to remote work. Windows File Servers are the primary shared storage resource for enterprises and small businesses. Since Windows File Servers tie directly into Active Directory NTFS permissions they are extremely easy to manage and integrate into Windows domain joined PC’s. With Windows Group Policies and scripting tools it’s extremely easy to deploy File Shares end-users. Since file servers are local, users enjoy simple, fast access at gigabit speeds over Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Is is realistic to replace file servers with cloud based file servers that provide the same user experience?

 Cloud File Server

The Local File Sharing Cloud Dilemma

The problem with on-premise Windows File Sharing is that it was never designed for remote access, external sharing, search and online collaboration. In today’s environment enabling Server Message Block (SMB) share access over a VPN opens up the corporate network to lateral access, malware encryption, data loss and security vulnerabilities.

Cloud File Server Solution

MyWorkDrive solves these issues with our cloud add-on server module for Windows File Servers. With MyWorkDrive a traditional File Server is immediately converted into a robust Cloud File Server. Users experience the cloud without compromising security or migrating files to cloud storage that require Vendor Lock-In. Enterprises deploy our private cloud file server software to provide secure online cloud file access. Features include:

  • Browser Based File Web File Manager Access from Anywhere
  • Online Collaboration in Office 365 online
  • Office 365 Mobile Apps document editing
  • Mapped Drive Client without VPN
  • Mobile Client Access (iOS & Android)
  • Internal File Sharing Links
  • External Public File Sharing using OneDrive or Azure AD
  • Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • ADFS/SAML Single Sign On

How it works

The System Administrator simply installs MyWorkDrive on a standard Windows Server joined to a Windows Active Directory Domain. MyWorkDrive connects to the existing Active Directory database out of the box. Existing NTFS Permissions, Users and Groups are inherited – reducing administration and duplicate effort. Once the file server shares are published, the website is then made accessible to users.

MyWorkDrive runs within IIS and creates standard Windows Web Sites. The System Administrator simply adds an SSL Certificate to the client web site to make it internet accessible to users. After enabling public access, a traditional windows file server is turned into a robust Cloud File Server accessible from anywhere using our mapped drive, mobile or web browser based clients.

All files remain on the Windows File Server and no permissions nor are any files stored on the MyWorkDrive Server. Files edited online in Office 365 also remain stored on existing local file shares. The key to our Cloud File Server access is our tight integration with existing windows file shares. MyWorkDrive is the only vendor that allows users to continue to use standard windows mapped drives alongside the MyWorkDrive clients while maintaining the proper file locking without requiring sync.

Business Benefits of MyWorkDrive Cloud File Server

  • Reduce costs by leveraging existing investments in infrastructure and Office 365
  • Eliminate overhead and support issues of VPN, FTP servers, and tape backup
  • Access files remotely using web browser, iPad, iPhone, Android, or any other device
  • ADFS/SAML/Azure AD Single-Sign-On Integration
  • Easily migrate File Shares to the Cloud with no Vendor Lock-In
  • Leverage Existing File Permissions, Users & Group
  • Monitor file usage with real-time access logging
  • Ensure data security by retaining control of data access, storage & retention
  • On-Premise Speed and Availability or run your server in AWS or Azure for the ultimate cloud storage solution

Technical Overview

MyWorkDrive is written with the Windows Systems Administrator in mind – everything is Windows Based, utilizes IIS Web Server and is written in .net.

Other Cloud File Server software services require complex SQL Databases (and therefore costly SQL licensing and management), Multiple Servers and charge extra for access to Active Directory. MyWorkDrive works with Active Directory by default instead of being an after thought requiring complex LDAP setups and costly licensing.

Other services, while sometimes being able to connect to Windows File Shares, were not designed like MyWorkDrive to leverage and integrate with Windows Shares as its primary storage mechanism – without requiring syncing of data to the cloud or to a database. MyWorkDrive allows existing NTFS permissions, folders and shares to stay in place while still enabling cloud services. All Windows Services including file locking, robust file server access speeds, data retention and existing backup strategies remain in place.

Cloud File Server

MyWorkDrive Cloud File Server Information Architecture

The MyWorkDrive product architecture works by taking existing file shares and making them accessible over https as an IIS Website. MyWorkDrive software can be installed directly on the Windows File Server (assuming it’s free of other IIS roles) or on another Windows domain member server.

MyWorkDrive automatically recognizes the existing Active Directory domain and utilizes it for all authentication including administration to provide users a single sign on (SSO) experience. The System Administrator simply points to the existing shares they wish to make accessible to users in MWD remotely. Traditional mapped drives remain available as an option – company files remain on the internal file servers and are never stored in the cloud.

All communications of our Web File Manager, Mapped Drive Client or Mobile Apps are secured over an SSL encrypted tunnel. Web File Manager connections are available at a unique company URL to users for remote access in the cloud through the customers own SSL Certificate & Hostname or by utilizing our optional patented Cloud Connector.

Either Way, No end user login information or customer files are stored on MyWorkDrive systems. All authentication is done on the customer’s own cloud file server. For even greater security, Enterprises may also enable our Two Factor Authentication or SAML/SSO.

Cloud Server Admin

The Cloud File Server administration website is installed locally on the customers Windows Server alongside of the MyWorkDrive Web Client site. The internal Admin Website is provided to provision shares, access rights, user home drives, review access logs and system settings. The internal website can only be accessed only on the local MWD server and requires domain admin credentials.

Once the MWD Software is installed on a Windows server, it automatically recognizes the Windows Active Directory domain. The administrator simply provisions existing shares to be made available in the cloud and restricts them to existing users or groups. Home Drives are made available by default. Users are able to authenticate with their existing logins by simply entering their domain usernames and passwords, Azure AD, SAML or ADFS for a single sign on experience.

Web File Access Portal & Client Experience

The MyWorkDrive Web File Manager portal provides web file access to user’s files and folders. Upon logging in with their existing Windows domain credentials, users are presented with the Web File Manager to manage their work files and folders. The File Server File Web Access client provides access to upload and download of files and folders, search, direct editing of office documents locally and in Microsoft Office Online and our Mapped Drive Client feature which opens the shares in the user’s operating system (file explorer) using a mapped drive over https (SSL). Drag and Drop of files and folders is supported.

Setup a Cloud File Server without migrating your data or changing work flows