/ Tech /  3 min read

Cloud Storage ain’t Sexy

Cloud storage and file delivery isn't new. It isn’t sexy. It is, however, absolutely necessary. Even with all the currently available options, it turns out many people still have a lot of pain around their cloud file storage and delivery needs.

When speaking with MetaPipe customers, the single most frequently mentioned pain point they have regarding remote collaboration is centered on file sync and delivery. People mentioned several concerns.

  • The various Boxes and Drives available all seem to choke on the workloads in our business (large numbers of both big and small files.)
  • The available access control methods are incongruous with how we use this stuff in real life.
  • The available options don't integrate with our automation very well.
  • Managing file versions is a pain.

While I hate to admit it, we deprioritized the file sharing side of MetaPipe far too long because it wasn't sexy; we knew we were already working on something that was a gamechanger with cloud workstations and infrastructure. Plus, every other company on the planet seems to have some kind of file sharing thing. However, the more we spoke with users and the more we thought about it, the more we realized how much pain people were in. We also started to realize just how much most of the other options out there suck. We couldn't ignore it any longer.

We took a good hard look at everything available, how people actually use these tools, and noticed some major shortcomings. Should people really have to archive everything into a single massive archive that seems impossible to upload without it crashing? Why is it crashing anyway? Is it reasonable to have to call a client to tell them when their file is done uploading because in the past they started downloading a partially uploaded file and it was broken as result? Speaking of that, why the need to babysit a file upload anyway? Shouldn’t the system be reliable enough to run unattended? Why do all the boxdrives choke when you try to upload a large number of files? Why can't you just use a simple password to protect your files? What if you don't actually WANT freaking thumbnails of everything (that only seem to work half the time anyway) and a web portal for downloads? If you want to transfer a file quickly, do you really need to mortgage your house to be able to afford a proprietary high-speed file transfer protocol?

It's 2018. There has to be a better way.

It turns out, these problems were all solved years ago. It's just that the world seems to have lost the art of it.

We make no secret about how old school we are. We like Unix and Linux. We like industry standards like FTP, rsync and SSH. So we asked ourselves "What if we built a product that made deploying and using rock-solid, industry standard protocols like FTP and rsync, EASY?" We imagined a product that combined the best of the old and dependable protocols with the best of the new DevOps and cloud. What we came up with is Airlock.

Sure, our solution is a bit of a throwback. But you know what? We chose this approach because the classic protocols WORK. They are solid and dependable and easy to integrate with standard system tools. You don't need fancy clients or custom protocols. Turns out the old Unix greybeards know a thing or two about how things need to work in the real world. Who are we to question the wisdom of the elders?

Airlock can support multiple front end data transmission protocols and file storage back-ends. At present, it only supports FTP over TLS on the front end and cloud blob/object storage on the back-end. We'll add more protocols and storage backends based on user feedback.

Airlock may be used as a component of MetaPipe or as a stand-alone cloud file storage and delivery system. When used with MetaPipe, Airlock controls the ingress or egress of external production data. Regardless of use case, all access is logged and only authorized individuals are allowed access to Airlock from either outside or inside MetaPipe.

One of the coolest features of Airlock is that you can create unlimited users for free and none of them can see each others files. Simple feature right? But most tools out there don’t present it in a simple way like we do. It’s is great for setting up a delivery portal for customer work, or a portal where clients can drop files intended to go only to you. Again, nothing revolutionary... we just made it work the way people actually use this type of product in real life.

If you'd like to take Airlock for a spin you can get a Free 1GB account here: airlock.metapipe.com

Basic level access is free for life if you sign up during the beta. We are interested in hearing what you think. Don't be shy about asking for features or telling us about any bugs you notice.