Cloud Migration: How To Have Better VPN Performance After Moving to AWS EC2

Cloud computing is quickly becoming the standard for enterprises looking to scale operations. Mission-critical workloads traditionally allocated to dedicated servers in data centers are now processed by instances running in the cloud, allowing organizations to cut down their IT expenses and eliminate upfront cost, and the complexity of integrating new technologies with existing workloads. There is no doubt that moving data and applications from on-premise data centers to the cloud is a feasible option for businesses to maintain and strengthen their competitive advantage. However, it is not always easy to make a big change to a large and established business because of all the processes, procedures, and quite recently, work arrangements.

This blog highlights particular challenges remote workers face after a migration process to the EC2 and proffers a solution to the identified issues.

What is EC2?

Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is an AWS service offering that allows companies to create virtual instances of their on-premise servers, store data on virtual drives, distribute loads across machines, and scale existing services.

EC2 Cloud Migration: Case Study

When considering your organization’s cloud adoption, you must take into account the people whose workflow will be affected. According to PwC, one of the biggest challenges to adopting cloud technology is the skill gap or lack of expertise. For instance, employees and users may be familiar with the old process, and it could take them significant effort to acclimate to a new system. It can also be that slight changes in operation affect other areas such as accessibility, which could be problematic as business profitability is inadvertently tied to employee’s productivity.

The case study below is a typical example of what we mean:

  • The company has three sites in the US but is looking to expand operations to the UK.
  • Data is currently being migrated to Amazon EC2 with requisite data taking the lead and legacy data hindmost (as their migration plan was devised to guarantee the least disruption).
  • Installed AWS site-to-site VPN to facilitate EC2 server access from the office.

The problem with this process is that remote users are required to use VPN to connect back to the corporate network to access files in EC2 servers as it is deployed within the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Consequently, the speed of access is affected, especially when the VPN has a performance issue.

Other VPN effects on remote working include:

  • VPN requires an active internet connection, a problem for employees that require on-field access to the instance or offline access to files.
  • VPN connections rely on the tunneling of public network traffic, which introduces inherent variability and unpredictability of performance.
  • CDN can’t speed up content redirected from VPN

The goal of a CDN is to serve content to users from the “closest” possible location. This allows content providers to serve content faster. However, because a VPN connects a user to a distant network, they can’t take advantage of the CDN or edge caching.

  • The office network has to be constantly monitored as any interruption could lead to a single point of failure.

Given the current economic environment, implementing a remote working policy has become essential for business. Not just to keep up with trends but also to stay ahead of the competitive market. Tackling the inefficiencies of VPN is one way to start.

How Triofox Fixes the Problem

One way management can facilitate a smooth transitioning is to mirror the existing workflow. In the case study, remote employees wouldn’t have a problem if the remote file access solution mirrored the mapped drive file access experience working within the office perimeter. Triofox can be provisioned for that.

Triofox caters to the contingent or work-from-home workforce by adding mobility and collaboration functionalities to existing file servers while providing a cloud drive letter solution for seamless operability. When used with Amazon’s EC2, it can transform the server into a private cloud file server or a private cloud file sharing solution, where authorized users can easily collaborate across regions and geographical locations. The result is that employees can stay productive on the go without management sacrificing security or convenience.

Other advantages include:

  • No need to route employee traffic through a VPN.

Triofox speeds up access to network shares without Businesses having to go through the trouble of setting up a VPN.

  • Triofox accepts file requests over HTTPS/SSL protocol and transfers (after AD authentication). It leverages the global delivery network (CDN); HTTPS-based protocol can traverse the CDN and speed up access.
  • Connection to EC2 server is independent of the on-premise network. Hence, even if there is network disruption on-site, remote workers are unaffected.
  • Speeds up access to files stored in the virtual server. Its differential upload feature ensures that only changes are synchronized, saving bandwidth and time.
  • Users can access frequently used files without an active connection to be available offline in the case of a limited or slow connection. However, files in the local cache remain encrypted at rest and can only be accessed after successful login. The files are protected with the same protection level as if they are still sitting in the cloud.
  • Provides an interface to simplify direct access to Amazon S3 buckets (when used to backup rarely accessed files in EC2 instances).
  • Employees can collaborate easily by sharing files over the Internet as secure web links. They can also access network server shares through a browser on their mobile device.
  • Remote wipe feature to deprovision compromised devices or users at the end of their contracts.
  • Provides data auditing and reporting features to keep businesses in control of what happens to their data and accountable to regulatory bodies.

Deployment Overview:

  • Install Triofox server agent on the EC2 instance (click here for the complete steps)
  • Install Triofox client agent.

For businesses yet to migrate to the cloud, Triofox simplifies the cloud migration process by integrating AD and NTFS permissions, allowing employees to maintain access to existing file shares. It can be deployed as a hybrid cloud solution, which is suitable for organizations that aren’t prepared to fully migrate to the cloud.

For more information on this solution, schedule a demo.

How to Improve Access to Azure Files in the Cloud

With more and more employees working from home, many businesses seek to move data from their on-premises servers to cloud storage services. One of the more popular cloud storage solutions is Microsoft’s Azure Files – although it presents its own unique set of challenges to companies seeking to serve their remote workforces better. In this blog, we will look at how to improve access to Azure Files.

Azure Files is a managed file share service for files stored in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform used by large and small businesses for data storage, app hosting, and other purposes. Azure Files allows companies to share files hosted in the cloud with remote employees located anywhere in the world.

Using standard protocols like SMB or NFS, Windows Server administrators can set up access to Azure archives. Users can mount Azure Files directly from the cloud or on-premises servers. Users can access Azure Files from a Windows, macOS, or Linux machine.

Many organizations use Azure Files because it makes it relatively simple to share files via the cloud. It can easily replace on-premises file servers and existing file shares with minimal maintenance. File shares can also be cached on local Windows Servers if desired.

Challenges in Using Azure Files

Azure Files sounds like the perfect solution for organizations with work-at-home employees who need to access files remotely. However, users have discovered that it is less than ideal, with many challenges that impact the service’s ultimate usability.

The biggest challenges in using Azure Files include:

  • No native mobile application for access from phones and tablets
  • No file locking, which could result in multiple users overwriting each other’s changes
  • Potential sync problems with local caching
  • Inefficient bandwidth use from repeatedly downloading the same files from the cloud

These issues can result in inefficiencies and, sometimes, corrupted files. They also are keeping many organizations from embracing Azure Files as their remote file sharing solution.

A Real-World Example

One of our clients decided to transfer all of their on-premises data to Azure Files from local file servers. However, after conducting a service test, they discovered several issues due to the lack of file locking and other popular system features.

This client has offices in two different locations, in the U.S. and Dubai, UAE. The client’s file server is in the U.S. The client currently accesses local files at both locations and needs to access U.S.-based files from the Dubai office..

The client needed the same set of files to be present in both locations. The client had to transfer the files from both on-premises sites to a cloud file server to achieve this. The client chose Microsoft Azure Files to accomplish this.

The Azure Files solution appeared to be a viable option. Microsoft’s data center in Dubai is not far from the client’s Dubai office. His US office is also next to the Azure East data center in the United States.

The client began by syncing files from his office in the United States to the Azure cloud but soon ran into Azure’s lack of file locking functionality. People in both the US and Dubai offices were seeing different copies of the same file was inconvenient. Latency issues plagued the client, especially when it came to files syncing.

As a result, the client was forced to seek out another choice. They went with Triofox.

How Triofox Makes it Easier to Access Azure Files

Secure Azure File Access

All of these issues are addressed by Triofox, which provides all required file system features for Azure Files, including:

  • File locking
  • On-demand synchronization
  • Instant syncing to the central storage repository
  • Efficient bandwidth utilization
  • Secure mobile app access

With Triofox, Azure Files becomes much more usable for remote workers. Files are locked during editing so that essential data is never inadvertently overwritten. Azure file shares look just like typically shared folders on users’ devices.

Triofox offers web browser, desktop/laptop, and mobile access. The Triofox mobile app enables users to access files at home from their own mobile devices. Remote access is easy and secure..

Let Triofox Be Your Azure File Sharing Solution

Triofox is a file server enhancement solution that supplements Microsoft’s Azure Files remote file sharing. With Triofox, remote users have secure access to data in Azure Files with all the file locking and synchronization features that ensure safe and efficient operation. Contact Triofox today to learn more about how Triofox can help your organization get more out of Azure Files – and create a more efficient and practical remote workforce.

Contact us today for a free trial!

Why You Need to Create a Shared Cloud Drive (And How to Easily Transition to It)

According to a recent poll, 85% of employees believe they could do their jobs remotely. Since 2005, the remote workforce in the United States increased by 173%, amounting to about 5 million employees. Allowing staff to telecommute can increase employee engagement, foster loyalty, and increase productivity – and companies are realizing these benefits.

Whenever the question of working remotely comes up in organizations, management’s first concern is how much effort it will take to enable work from home for their staff. Even if the company doesn’t implement a formal work from home strategy, giving staff remote access to company information can improve productivity. The simplest way to start is to create a shared cloud drive that employees can access from any device.

How Creating a Shared Cloud Drive Improves Remote Access

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allowed secured access to company data while enabling staff to access the corporate network from a connected device. However, even if a company invested in a VPN, maintaining it created additional overheads for the IT department. They had to limit how many workers logged in remotely as a VPN could only handle a certain amount of simultaneous connections. If more employees required access, the company would need additional licenses, making VPNs an expensive solution for remote access.

Using existing shared drives with a cloud file server that grants access to employees using their network credentials is a more efficient solution for enabling remote work. As most staff are already familiar with using mapped network drives, making these available from a cloud interface can solve many of the concerns the management may have.

Employees who work inside the office network can map a network drive by navigating to the file or folder and using the path to bind the drive to their credentials. They can choose which drive letter they want to assign to the folder and should use the full Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path, including the domain name. This will provide access to the shared drive from their PC’s file explorer.

5 Benefits of Triofox’s Shared Cloud Drives

Triofox’s private cloud migration capabilities give organizations the ability to set up remote sharing of their mapped network drives. It doesn’t require additional hardware or appliances on-premises, interfacing directly with the company’s file servers instead. Unlike other cloud storage solutions like OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive, Triofox integrates with the company’s Active Directory (AD) to enforce existing file and folder permissions. Employees can access their files from a mobile device or browser, helping them remain productive from anywhere.

Here are five ways Triofox improves remote working with shared cloud drives.

1. Familiarity Across Devices

Most employees know how to use mapped drives and shared folders in the office network. Usually, with a remote access solution like a VPN, it requires training staff on how to use the technology. With Triofox, the company can replicate the same office experience on mobile devices or web browsers. Staff won’t end up navigating around an endless maze of drives and folders.

2. Reduced IT Overheads

Triofox is easy to deploy and has an intuitive interface that doesn’t add additional burdens to the company’s IT department. By inheriting access permissions from the company AD, Triofox doesn’t require any additional administrative load from network security professionals. The protection of the internal network extends to the cloud drives.

3. Collaborate Productively

File management capabilities like versioning and automatic locking increase staff’s capability to work concurrently and efficiently. Triofox also reduces the cost of compliance by generating an audit trail of every shared file’s change history.

4. Scale Effectively

With Triofox, the on-premises infrastructure can host all the cloud accessible data, allowing firms to scale with ease. It also allows firms to be cloud-ready and transition their data to a public, private, or hybrid cloud deployment.

5. Secure Yet Accessible Data

The rise of cloud services offered a solution to firms but also increased their attack surface. Security professionals experienced with working in a closed corporate network didn’t have the skills and expertise to deploy their infrastructure to the cloud safely. These concerns hampered private and public cloud adoption in organizations until a solution presented itself.

Triofox combines the hardline security infrastructure of an on-premises deployment while enabling a scalable cloud access model. It leverages the existing security layers built into the company servers and group policies (including NTFS permissions) to keep information safe, yet accessible. After the company configures the solution, staff can access their shared drives from a web or mobile interface.

Enable the Remote Workforce with Triofox Cloud Shared Network Drives

Using Triofox to enable remote work in companies can speed up the implementation without compromising any of the corporate network’s security. It provides companies with a flexible solution that adds a layer of remote functionality to their existing file servers.

With more organizations now depending on staff to be productive while working from home, Triofox streamlines the company’s deployment strategy and establishes a robust, cloud-ready ecosystem for future resilience. You can try Triofox as a free cloud storage solution by signing up for a trial period.