AeroFS at the University of Toronto this Monday

07 Jan 2014 by Linda Yang

This coming Monday (January 13th, 2014) our co-founder and CEO, Yuri Sagalov, will have the pleasure of speaking with Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com, at the University of Toronto.

Alexis will be speaking about his experience in building a business and his passion for entreppreneurship which has come into fruition in his book "Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will be Made, Not Managed."

Following his talk, Alexis and Yuri will host a fireside chat about startups, entrepreneurship, and AeroFS. The talk is hosted by the University of Toronto's Hatchery.

Alexis and Yuri will be hosting a meet up afterwards at 7pm (location TBD at the event) and would love to meet any of you there.

Additional information, as well as instructions to RSVP can be found here.

Venue Details:

Bahen Centre (40 St George St, Toronto) Room 1160
Start Time: 4:00pm
End Time: 6:30pm
Meet-Up Time: 7pm (Location TBD)

Pricing and Feature Improvements!

13 Dec 2013 by Yuri Sagalov

Happy Friday the 13th!

Today we'd like to announce a few things, in order of importance:

Simplified Pricing

As some of you may have noticed, we've officially removed the limit on external collaborators on the free AeroFS account (paid accounts always had unlimited external collaborators). This means that if you're in an organization of 1-3 people, you can now share with an unlimited number of people external to your organization.

Feature Improvements

Here at AeroFS we have been continuing our regular releases of AeroFS, and today I would like to point out a few of the features and improvements that Hybrid and Private cloud customers should notice in their AeroFS Clients.

Unsyncable Files

Cross-platform compatibility is incredibly difficult. For example, although the OSX platform supports pretty well all file names under the sun, Windows has significant restrictions.

Fortunately, most of these incompatibilities are relatively easy to resolve by simply renaming the file on the computer where you notice the error.

Last week we've released a number of improvements to the user experience around unsyncable files, and I'd like to point out some of these improvements now.

First, on the computer experiencing the problem you should see a notification in the tray menu:

An unsyncable file was found

Clicking on this notification will bring you to the following dialog:

Unsyncable Files Dialog

In this dialog you can go through each item, find out what the problem is in the Detail column, and address it by renaming the file.

Detailed information on unsyncable files can be found here.

Conflict Resolution

A file conflict is created when the same file is modified on two or more computers before their changes are synced. AeroFS has supported conflict resolution through a Help > Why Aren't My Files Synced? dialog quite some time, but while overhauling the unsyncable files handling, we decided it was also a good time to revisit conflict resolution.

Resolving conflicts is as easy as resolving unsyncable files:

First, you will see a notification in the tray menu:

A Conflict was found

When you click on the notification, the following dialog will open:

Resolve Conflicts

From this view you can see the various versions, open them, and save a copy/resolve conflicts as necessary.

Detailed information on conflict resolution and what each option provides can be found here.

That's it for now!

Best,

Yuri & The AeroFS Team

The AeroFS Private Cloud

10 Dec 2013 by Yuri Sagalov

Two weeks ago we officially released the AeroFS Private Cloud, a completely behind-your-firewall approach to file syncing and collaboration, to an overwhelmingly positive reception. Today I'd like to explain how we built it.

Hybrid Cloud vs. Private Cloud

When we launched AeroFS from private beta this past April, we brought to market the idea that you don't have to give up your data privacy to enable syncing and collaboration in a BYOD world. The product we launched in April, the AeroFS Hybrid Cloud, allows businesses to sync and collaborate without ever having to trust us with their data, while managing their user accounts in the cloud. For many businesses, this solution is sufficient: They need to keep control over their data for compliance/security/IT policy reasons, but are happy to hand off the management piece.

At the same time, many larger businesses came to us with a stricter requirement: They need a file syncing and collaboration solution that never talks to our servers. With the help of products such as VMware and OpenStack, many companies are rolling out their own private cloud infrastructures and would like to provide better collaboration and syncing solutions on that infrastructure.

The AeroFS Appliance

AeroFS Appliance Setup Steps

Traditional enterprise software is incredibly difficult to setup, maintain, and upgrade, often requiring companies to spend many hours and thousands of dollars on training. Installation often requires spending many hours on-site with customers, and dragging out the overall deployment cycle.

We decided that if we do provide an AeroFS Appliance, we’d need to set a few rules for ourselves:

The product should be delivered as a virtual machine image

In our own experience with software installation, dependency requirements can be an absolute nightmare and "simple" things like OS upgrades or third party package upgrades result in hours in lost productivity.

In order to minimize the amount of time our customers have to spend managing dependencies (and minimize our own time debugging various OS configurations) a black-box approach had to be taken. We will deliver the software as an appliance as a virtual machine with a completely pre-configured operating system. Since the behavior of VMware/VirtualBox/OpenStack is fairly predictable, we can be reasonably sure that if the user is able to boot the appliance, the software should work.

Installation/provisioning should not require handholding

The installation step is the first time a user really interacts with your software, so it's important to get this step right.

As part of our black box approach, we do not want to expose the root shell to end-users to prevent inadvertent misconfiguration. This means that we need to get users out of the appliance console and into the web browser as early as possible.

The earliest possible opportunity to get the user into the browser is when their networking configuration is done, which is exactly what the AeroFS Appliance does. Once the appliance is booted, we expose a few ways to setup networking, and immediately ask the user to point their web browser at that IP.

Beyond that, the entire installation process can be done in five easy steps:

  1. Supply a license file
  2. Specify a hostname for the appliance
  3. Specify (optional) LDAP/AD credentials, or use the built-in AeroFS authentication system
  4. Specify (optional) SMTP credentials, or use the built-in AeroFS mailing service
  5. Specify (optional) trusted certificate for future web browser sessions

(Want to learn more about the setup process? Check out our quick install guide here)

Backups and upgrades should be performed in one click each

Appliance Upgrade

One of the biggest problems with delivering software into a closed environment is encouraging people to upgrade. In the Hybrid Cloud model we perform upgrades automatically. Obviously, this is not possible when the software is deployed completely behind the corporate firewall, so we need a very simple upgrade path to encourage prompt upgrades and minimize downtime.

Since the software is delivered as an appliance, upgrades can be done in four quick steps:

  1. On the existing appliance, go to the Management console, and select 'Backup' or 'Upgrade' to generate a new backup file
  2. Shut down the existing appliance
  3. Bring up the new appliance image
  4. Select 'restore from existing backup' during the first step

An added benefit of this process is that if by some chance your upgrade goes awry, you can simply bring up your old instance, thus minimizing unexpected downtime.

AeroFS Client installation should remain one-click

AeroFS is a multi-component system. We have services that handle registration/authentication/etc., as well as client installable software that handle the day-to-day syncing operations of various devices.

One of the challenges that arise in such an environment is configuring each client to talk to the correct AeroFS Appliance.

Traditionally, users would have to configure settings manually, resulting in many unnecessary support requests and headaches for the end users. Occasionally, IT departments can pre-configure these settings through install scripts, but that is only viable in large IT organizations.

We wanted to take this pain out of both the users and the IT admins hands. This meant that we had to be able to repackage the software on the fly on the appliance itself.

During the last step of the AeroFS Appliance configuration, the Appliance takes the configuration parameters passed in by the admin and repackages the clients to only communicate with that appliance. Now, when an end user downloads/installs an AeroFS client from the appliance website they need to only specify their username and password, preserving the one-step setup process of the AeroFS Client!

Further, upgrades to the AeroFS Client are as seamless as before: Updated AeroFS Clients are delivered as part of the AeroFS Appliance, so when an IT administrator upgrades an AeroFS Appliance, the clients will automatically be upgraded as well, reducing the work required for the IT administrator.

Security

An important piece in this entire process is our approach to security. An in-depth overview is available here, but we want to point out two important details:

  • Each AeroFS Appliance acts as a Certificate Authority (CA) for your AeroFS Private Cloud and will govern all certificates used by AeroFS to communicate with your appliance or other devices. The CA is generated on first-boot and is unique per appliance.
  • During the last step of installation when we re-package the AeroFS Clients to only communicate with your appliance, we also package the AeroFS CA certificate into the client installable. This allows us to dramatically reduce the required trust footprint by only providing the necessary CAs.

Try it yourself

The above work allows us to make a claim that's rarely possible in the enterprise world: In most cases, you can get the AeroFS Appliance up and running in five minutes. Really.

Don't believe us? Check out the demo below, or better yet, sign up for our free 30-day trial (no credit card required) and let us know what you think!

AeroFS now supports Owners, Editors, and... Viewers!

08 Oct 2013 by Yuri Sagalov

A commonly requested feature for AeroFS is the ability to designate some members of a shared folder as "read-only" members. They should be able to view, download, and receive updates to a document, but should not be able to modify it (a common use case is sharing read-only documents such as contracts with a vendor).

As of version 0.4.122, AeroFS now supports this feature! When sharing a folder with someone through AeroFS, there are now three different role types: Owner, Editor, and Viewer.

Owner, Editor, Viewer roles

Owner: This is the role that has the highest level permissions, and is usually the person who created the shared folder. As the owner, the person can:

  • Invite new members to the folder
  • Change any member's role in that folder
  • Make changes to the contents of the shared folder (download and upload files to and from the folder)

Editor: This person was invited by the Owner of the shared folder and is able to:

  • Make changes to the contents of the shared folder (download and upload files to and from the folder)

Viewer: This person was invited by the Owner of the shared folder and has the lowest access level. Viewers can:

  • Download files made by other members in shared folders

Feel free to try it out for yourself, or take a look at the following support articles for more information:

Owners, Editors and Viewers

Designate roles to members of a shared folder

Happy Syncing!

Yuri & The AeroFS Team

Welcome, Erik Mall!

24 Sep 2013 by Yuri Sagalov

Since we've launched AeroFS out of private beta in April this year we've received overwhelmingly positive feedback from businesses and individuals alike about the problem AeroFS is solving.

We strongly believe that AeroFS is on the verge of changing the way IT teams view and deploy file syncing systems. It is incredibly important to us that the market understands that they don't have to make a decision between securing their sensitive data or providing a file sharing and collaboration tool for their employees.

As part of that effort, I'd like to introduce you to AeroFS's new VP of Sales, Erik Mall. Erik will be in charge of AeroFS' go to market strategy, working closely with our existing customers to ensure that AeroFS continues ot focus on building the most secure file syncing and collaboration tool on the market.

Erik brings extensive experience in leading teams focused on developing and selling cloud based services, most recently as General Manager of the Propertyware division of RealPage (NASDAQ: RP). Prior to PropertyWare's acquisition, Erik was the VP of Sales at Propertyware and managed the sales team to a year over year growth of 130% from 2009 to 2011. Prior to Propertyware, Erik was employee #17 at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) (and one of their first two sales reps), and held management and sales positions at Successfactors (NYSE:SAP), and Netsuite (NYSE: N)

We're incredibly excited to have Erik on board, and hope you'll share this excitement with us!

Welcome, Erik!