How AWS EFS and Microsoft Azure Files are the cloud’s game changers

Cloud service providers are the new jewelry traders in the business world. With the demand for cloud services expected to reach $52 billion in 2019, the growth of cloud services providers can only be expected to escalate.

Cloud service providers, after all, provide exceptional business opportunities for small businesses. Cloud platforms such as  Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure allow businesses the leverage of increased data accessibility, storage, and flexibility to achieve substantial cost efficiencies and competitive advantages.

With AWS achieving nearly 17% operating profit margin in its first quarter, it is evident that cloud-based web applications are the new oil for businesses. With the growing importance of developments such as ‘Big Data’ on the rise, it is only a matter of time until the majority of organizations demand greater functionalities and storage capacities to process and store large data sets.

Hosted cloud-based file systems are a new development in cloud services. AWS’ soon-to-be launched ‘Elastic File Transfer’(EFS) file storage service is expected to be a game changer. Microsoft’s Azure’s preview launch of its Azure File Service last year is also another.

These cloud-based file storage service systems are designed to meet the growing needs for Big Data applications and other needs.

Importance & benefits of cloud-based file systems

There are many reasons as to why cloud-based file systems are beneficial for businesses.

Cost-effective file sharing systems

A notable advantage contributing to the explosive rise in demand for cloud computing services in general, is the cost advantage. With cloud-based file sharing systems, this is still a major benefit for companies. The EFS system of AWS allows companies to configure its files with great speed at no setup cost or fees. Companies only pay for storage that is utilized and which grows and shrinks according to the files added or removed.

This is equally important for Big Data applications that involve managing data sets in petabytes and exabytes. Companies that have to store raw data of such significant size can easily store and share data using cloud-based file systems.

Companies can work without file servers or VPNs

Another added advantage of using cloud for data sharing and storage is the fact that companies can work without using their VPNs or file servers. In addition to the benefit of workers being able to access data remotely, this eliminates the costly setup and maintenance costs for keeping their company file servers operational. This also makes it easier to expand their operations to multiple cities or even countries as all file sharing and storage can now be done online via the cloud; on-premises file servers no longer need to be set up and maintained.

Better security than traditional options

Cloud-based file sharing systems can provide better security as only those with authorization can gain access to a company’s files and data. AWS’ EFS for instance, allows businesses to configure authorization access controls via the Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud). Through this, a host of access permission can be written and executed and confidential files and data can be protected according to the highest security standards.

Security at the administration level is provided via the AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) module and also at the file and directory level, ensuring better data security and protection against malicious software.

EFS vs. Azure File Service

The Azure File Service launched last year is already capable of leveraging scalable data to companies along with durability and efficiency. Although the EFS is expected to be released this summer, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft responds to Amazon’s offering and how the escalating competitions shapes the cloud services landscape.

AWS re: Invents Itself Again: New and Improved Products and Services at November Conference

AWS is the undisputed leader in the Cloud Computing world, and their managed Web Services are the benchmark for providers and customers alike. In light of that, the November 11-14 AWS re:Invent 2014 Conference in Las Vegas was a Mecca for all things Cloud.  AWS has rolled out numerous offerings in 2014, including Zocalo and the Fire Phone. Given the host of new products introduced at the conference, it’s obvious that the parade of innovation continues into 2015.

Here are some the new offerings grouped by functionality.

Security and Encryption

Reblaze is an all-in-one private virtual cloud-based security product, implemented with a simple DNS change.

Porticor Virtual Private Data (VPD) platform is a versatile cloud encryption and key management solution. Available as a virtual appliance, and includes a secure, cloud-based API for integration and automation. Pricing starts at $599/month.

Cavirin enhances security by continuously applying OOB policies to your environment. Also generates Compliances Scorecards.

Backup, Storage and Replication

CloudBerry Backup compresses and encrypts data using customer keys before transference to the cloud, and works with all major cloud storage providers.

DRUVA Phoenix eliminates tape and off-site storage, and reduces the costs of managing server backup, archiving, retention and recovery. A 3 year plan starts at $0.60/GB/Month.

Zadara Multi-Zone HA enables a fully disaster tolerant system by distributing application servers across different AWS Availability Zones, and avoid facility-level failure and application. Prices start as low as $0.49/hour to enable the Multi-Zone HA replication feature.

Zerto Virtual Replication for Amazon Web Services (AWS) extends hypervisor-based replication to the public cloud. Will be available Q1 2015 and priced at $745 per protected VM.

Cloudant, the IBM NoSQL database, now replicates JSON data to dashDB. Monthly metered pricing is based on data storage ($1.00 per GB) and the types / frequency of RESTful API calls.

Data Analytics

Xplenty provides integration, processing and preparation of data for analytics without writing code. Three tier pricing starts at $99/Month.

ExtraHop Wire Data Analytics for FireEye Threat Analytics Platform (TAP) provides the events and metrics needed to detect advanced persistent threats, including DNS activity, HTTP payload data, Session tracking, and reconnaissance activity as attackers probe networks.

Logentries Unlimited Log Management & On-demand Analytics allows you to log data from any source or format into a centralized location, and analyze in real-time. Pricing starts at $359/month.

Segment is a hub that collects, translates and routes customer data to more than one hundred analytics and marketing apps with the flip of a switch. It recently announced support for automatic data transformation and loading into Amazon Redshift. Self-service plans range from $0-$350 a month.

Apprenda newest version (5.5) is now available in the AWS Marketplace. Apprenda allows you  to run a powerful private PaaS on public IaaS. The 16 GB image is free.

Administrative Tools allows you to map and visualize all AWS cloud resources and interdependencies, and quickly see unused or rogue resources.

RightScale Cloud Appliance for vSphere now has a self service portal for access to existing vSphere templates and resources, expanded tenancy options, and support for storage policies, and support for vSAN datastores.

VNS3:ms is a single dashboard to manage and monitor your VNS3 networks and VPN connections. $50 per manager monitored per month.

Directory-as-a-Service connects AWS servers to an on premise AD or LDAP directory. Works with Windows, Macintosh and Linux. First 10 users are free, additional users are $10/month.

Testing Platforms

BlazeMeter Version 3.0 Unlimited Testing Platform has redesigned User Interface, a mobile dashboard for iPhone and Android, Selenium testing, Multi-Cloud support, comprehensive REST API, and Multi-Instance tests.

Skytap Dev/Test Environments on AWS utilizes three new AWS support capabilities: dynamic IPSEC VPN, Secure Remote Desktop Client, and third-party URL sharing. Price ranges from $30-$60 per month per VM.

VDI (Visual Desktop Interface)

ViewSonic SC-Z55 Discrete Zero Client utilizes VDI (Visual Desktop Interface) technology to support advanced 2D/3D applications for high-end workstations.

Cloud Management

2nd Watch Cloud Factory automates migration of enterprise workloads to the public clouds with an automated workflow that includes extraction, batching, conversion, importing, configuring, launching, and testing. Pricing starts at $2,000 per server.

Virtual FXT Edge Filer from Avere Systems provides the ability to deploy and scale while using both on-premises and cloud-based storage resources, such as Amazon EC2. $4,620 per month.

CTP Labs for Amazon Web Services (AWS) transforms legacy software products and systems into multitenant, auto-scaling cloud services. $150,000 for 1 month Rapid Minimum Viable Product (RMVP) starter engagement; $450,000 for 3 month RMVP engagement. (Duration and price range varies depending on application complexity.)

vNOC Cloud Management Platform for Cloudnexa now has a User Interface to manage existing resources, audit and troubleshoot change management issues, and view AWS account snapshot summary reports. A free limited version is available.

3 Ways Managed AWS Services Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Businesses of all sizes are learning the value of Cloud computing, using it for everything from content management to billing. But with Gartner predicting that Cloud office systems will represent 33% of the overall office market by 2017 and 60% by 2022, Cloud computing is changing the business world as a whole.

By moving data and applications to the Cloud, businesses of all sizes have access to resources usually only affordable by large corporations. A small business would likely not be able to afford to hire the best technology professionals in the industry, nor would they be able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and software. The right Cloud service provides these features for a monthly fee. Managed AWS Services gives business access to the resources Amazon, one of the top companies in the world, provides, including around-the-clock, level-3 engineering support and monitoring, a 30-minute response time to tickets, pilot testing, and more.

For businesses, these services can bring significant cost savings. Here are three ways a switch to the Cloud could save your organization money each month.


At one time, businesses were required to either keep skilled technical personnel on staff or pay an hourly fee to a contracting firm to provide these services. Managed IT support services allow businesses to shift server work to skilled professionals offsite, saving money without sacrificing service. The less local software a business has, the less that business needs on-site staff to troubleshoot, providing additional savings.


When server equipment is located on the premises, the business is responsible for the deployment and maintenance of this equipment. When this equipment must be replaced, that business has to not only purchase new hardware, but also software and support for installing and configuring that software to work in that business’s infrastructure.

Loss of Business

Cloud service providers offer data recovery, redundancy, and 24/7 support. If a business’s website or data servers take a nosedive, this means highly-skilled professionals will be hard at work to restore complete functionality as quickly as possible. Because of this minimal downtime, businesses will be able to more efficiently serve customers, avoiding the loss of customers that can come from excessive downtime.