In a previous article, I wrote about a planned Google Drive
data migration that fell through due to problems transferring existing folder permissions
over to Google. In a nutshell, the complex and years-old series of file share
permissions couldn’t be replicated to new Google Drive folders, which would
have meant redoing them all by hand — a concept that threatened to involve
dozens of hours of manual labor. The project was put on hold at that time since
the complexities needed further work.

As is usually the case
when system limitations create roadblocks, third-party solutions offered to
light the way. One such example is Linkgard’s Nava Certus software, which
delivers cloud migration capabilities intended to fill in these kinds of gaps. Nava
Certus is capable of transferring files from source to destination , and it offers an array of administrative features to ease the process. Nava Certus
isn’t geared exclusively towards companies planning a move to Google Drive — it also works with Amazon S3, Dropbox, and other file servers.

What does Nava Certus
do?

Linkgard describes Nava
Certus as “cloud storage migration software that allows migration to Google
Drive (and other targets) from a variety of sources.” These sources currently entail
file servers, Dropbox, and other Google Drive environments (such as in the case
of migrating one set of files to another during a company merger).

Basically, the software
takes data from point A and brings it to point B as-is. Most permissions,
modification times, and hierarchies are kept intact (Note: permissions don’t get
carried over when Dropbox is involved, which makes sense, since it’s largely an
individual program and not used for sharing files among multiple users).

According to Linkgard: 

“There
is one caveat that we’d like to mention. There are cases where Windows
permissions will not fully map to Google Drive permissions, such as in the case
of Deny and ‘Disable Inheritance.’ This is purely due to the simpler permission
model of Google Drive vs. Windows/NTFS. Deny permissions don’t exist in Google
Drive; you can either give permission or chose not to give permission, but you
cannot Deny a permission somewhere further down a file tree. It is possible in
Windows to disable inheritance at a certain point in the tree. In Google Drive,
inheritance trickles down all the way, so users should keep this in mind. However,
when our software encounters permissions that we can’t map fully, we output
this in the logs. In this case, the administrator will be alerted to the problem
and can decide to take manual action if necessary.”

There are two kinds of
permissions in Windows:

  • Regular permissions, such as
    Read/Write/Full Control/etc.
  • NTFS Special permissions, such
    as “Traverse Folder/Execute File” or “List Folder/Read Data”

Nava Certus can handle
both types of permissions. These are translated from
the Windows NTFS file system to Google Drive (Figure A).

Figure A

 

 

NTFS Special Permissions in Google Drive.

How it works

Nava Certus migrates
files via a mapping methodology (Figure B), which links source and destination to
ensure that the appropriate information is transferred from one set of accounts
to another.

Figure B

 

 

File migration diagram.

It’s possible to conduct a centralized (one-to-one) migration or a distributed (one-to-many) migration (Figure C).

Figure C

 

 

Google Drive migration types.

A centralized migration
retains ownership and control of file permissions. All files are transferred
from the source account to a single Google Drive account (Figure D). That “central user” can then reassign files and permissions if needed.

Figure D

 

 

Centralized migration.

A distributed migration identifies
the owner of each file and migrates it to that specific user on the destination
side. So, let’s say you have 500 users with a lot of mixed ownership across numerous
files on your server. Nava Certus can utilize a distributed migration (Figure E) to
transfer each file to its rightful owner.

Figure E

 

 

Distributed migration.

It’s even possible to
perform a migration from one source to multiple destinations (Figure F).

Figure F

 

 

You can perform simultaneous migration tasks.

Seeing the before and
after results

You can migrate an
entire volume of files or work with individual folders. Let’s say, for example, you want to migrate a Windows folder called “D:\NC_files_to_migrate\files\Folder1\sub\sub11”
to Google Drive. The Job Configuration option lets you browse for the folder (Figure G).

Figure G

 

 

You can browse for a specific folder.

Note the permissions for
the sub11 account that have been assigned to this folder (Figure H).

Figure H

 

 

Account permissions.

See how “sub11” has Modify
rights on the folder? Now, compare these to the rights assigned to the same
folder in Google Drive (Figure I), once it’s been migrated.

Figure I

 

 

Rights listed in Google Drive.

As you can see, sub11’s
rights have been preserved, making it easy to transfer all existing security
restrictions.

Other benefits

A file system migration
can take some time, especially over slow Internet connections. Nava Certus
checks to see which files have changed on the source during the migration
period, and it’s able to upload the changed files to ensure data consistency. Nava Certus can even convert document formats to/from Google Drive or perform a periodic
one-way synchronization between file systems. No middleman servers are used, and
the file copying process is conducted using secure encryption.

The interface is simple and
intuitive. For instance, Figure J shows the Job Management panel and
the various jobs it’s monitoring.

Figure J

 

 

Job Management panel.

Nava Certus also offers
the ability to automate jobs via scripting (utilizing Tcl) and run reports
showing the status and details of migration jobs, including job summary, errors,
and migration integrity.

Figure K shows an example
of a job summary report.

Figure K

 

 

Job summary report.

Cost involved

Determining
cost can be a real challenge. Some vendors are coy about the concept,
requesting a sales call to provide the details. However, Nava Certus has straightforward pricing — the standard edition costs $7.99 (USD) per GB. In fact, you can migrate up to 1 GB via a free trial to test out the product.

Linkgard informed me: 

“There’s no hard limit to how much storage customers can buy. However, on our pricing page, we ask that our customers call us for specifics, since we may
be able to set them up with better pricing and put them in touch with a
reseller close to them. Our resellers also frequently perform the migration for
their clients, if requested, so that the customer is completely ‘hands off’.”

For example, you might
expect to pay $3995 (USD) or less for a migration of 500 GB worth of data. Since your system administrators might spend weeks resetting permissions in
Google Drive to match those on the original Windows file server, this can be
considered a pure labor-saving expense alone.

Additional resources

Linkgard provides a YouTube video that summarizes the Nava
Certus migration process. You can also check out their Features page and blog to get more
information. 

Have you used Nava Certus in your organization? If not, what tools do you use to migrate data and permissions? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.