DFS Cloud File Sharing

Want to provide mobile workers with easy and straightforward remote file server access within your Microsoft DFS infrastructure? Add cloud file-sharing capabilities to your DFS!

Solve the DFS file locking issue for AutoCAD
Story #1 - Solve the DFS file locking issue for AutoCAD

A civil engineering firm has been in business for about 13 years. They currently have 4 different locations and are looking to grow in the next 3 months. However, they currently rely on a DFS replication infrastructure to synchronize data with 4 different sites. And DFS does not work well with file locking, so there is a lot of human communication overhead. The owner of the company wants to get rid of this overhead and is looking for a new way to support the growth of the business.

Story #2 - Keep DFS and adding cloud file-sharing capabilities 

An interior design company has 2 locations. Every five years they look for alternative options for file server sharing. They have been using DFS for 30 years. The department has a lot of AutoCAD drawings. When you change the file path, you have to manually update each drawing. That's a pretty brutal change. So they want to keep DFS and add better cloud file-sharing capabilities.


AutoCAD manual update brutal transition

What is Microsoft DFS?

The Distributed File System (DFS) functions provide the ability to logically group shares on multiple servers and transparently link shares into a single hierarchical namespace. Here are two main DFS features.

Global Namespace for Simple Management

DFS simplifies SMB network shares management, so you don't need to remember individual file server names anymore.

DFS Replication for Reliability

A DFS link can have multiple SMB network shares mapped to it and form a replication group for copying files among the shares.

What is Microsoft DFS

DFS and Windows Server Infrastructure

DFS (Distributed File System) is a Windows Server feature that allows System Administrators to create a single namespace to provide a replicated sharing infrastructure across the network. DFS is a part of the Windows server infrastructure with the following components.

Active Directory

Active Directory (AD) is a directory service for Microsoft Windows domain networks, with which employees can log in to the corporate system with one single set of credentials.

NTFS Permissions

NTFS is the standard file system of Windows, which brings the permission structure to folders and files with well-understood security protection and access control.

Network Shares

The windows file servers provide network shares in SMB/CIFS protocols to client workstations. It is the most basic form of file sharing in the enterprise.

Drive Mapping

Drive mapping is probably the most frequently used feature for employees when they login to their Windows workstation and see drive letters for their home folder and shared workspace.

File Locking

File locking is another frequently used feature from NTFS and the CIFS/SMB protocol to lock files while being edited, necessary for team collaboration.

Windows Storage

Windows Storage is an umbrella title for a broad range of services, including Windows storage server, storage space direct, virtual machines, and many other technologies.

Add Cloud File Sharing to DFS

We use DFS and the above Windows server features on a daily basis for our on-premise work. However, when it comes to remote access, there is also Office 365 OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Azure Files, Dropbox, Box, ShareFile, etc., public cloud storage services that compete with the Windows file server platform for your data.

Should you adopt public cloud file sharing as a DFS alternative and manually copy files between DFS file shares and public cloud storage services? Or should we add modern cloud services to the DFS infrastructure and elevate DFS into the cloud?

Challenges of DFS

DFS is well suited for on-premise infrastructure in the area of a local network. You can think of it as virtualized access to networked file systems with Server Message Block (SMB) as the underlying building blocks. It works well with Microsoft client workstations, such as a Windows 10 machine. However, it is very different from current file-sharing services such as Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive. In summary, it was not designed to be web browser and mobile-first or friendly, and therefore lacks important web browser interfaces as well as iOS and Android support.

Challenges of DFS

Like these features added to Microsoft DFS?

When it comes to cloud file sharing, features like accessing files and folders from mobile devices such as from an iPhone or an Android device come to mind immediately. Files and folders showing up inside a web browser is also a popular feature. On remote Windows machines, it is also convenient that the files and folders show up in a mapped drive immediately without the clumsy steps of setting up a VPN.

CLOUD FILE SHARING FEATURES FOR DFS

Mobile Editing

Using iPhone applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Applications to edit files in DFS and save it back to DFS.

Drive Mapping

Map a drive remotely to DFS without using a VPN, with file locking features and endpoint protection.

Web Links

File sharing with colleagues and business partners made easy by generating web links to DFS files and send links through Microsoft Outlook instead of sending attachments.

Offline Folder

Mark files and folders sitting in DFS as favorites and access files and folders on-demand to get jobs done on an iPhone or iPad.

DFS Cloud File Share

A solution that extends DFS with an iPhone application, a web browser interface, Windows mapped drive, and a Mac Finder volume, turning Microsoft DFS into a corporate cloud file server solution.

Remote Access

Combines HTTPS, web protocols, and DFS for secure remote access without using a VPN.

Disaster Recovery

Leverages private cloud storage as a central cloud file repository with version control, file change history, and audit tracing to provide business continuity for DFS.

Mobile Sharing

Add mobile applications for secure mobile file sharing from a web browser or mobile application.

Cloud Migration

Sets up a hybrid deployment between local file servers and private cloud storage that is flexible for data migration.

Cloud Power + Web Simplicity + DFS Security? How??

The following four steps document the data flow from the Internet to DFS and back to the end-user
Triofox Web Server
1. Triofox Web Server

Triofox creates a web server front end accepting client agent requests from remote Windows, Mac, web browsers, iOS, and Android devices. Client agents provide drive mapping functionality.

Agents Send File Requests
2. Agents Send File Requests

Client agents send HTTPS/SSL requests to the Triofox server. Triofox server can log the requests for auditing purposes and also coordinate the file access and sharing demands.

Active Directory Integration
3. Active Directory Integration

Active Directory and NTFS permissions protect and check whether the file requests are allowed. After that, file requests are satisfied and returned via HTTPS/SSL to client agents.

DFS Share Integration
4. DFS Share Integration

The files sitting in a DFS share first get their DFS links resolved to the closest SMB network shares, and the files from the network shares are retrieved and sent back to users over HTTPS streaming.

Increase the productivity of your mobile workforce!

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