Oxygen Cloud was
not something I was excited about when I saw it on the Storage Field Day 4 schedule; it seemed like just another file sharing solution like Dropbox
for the enterprise. Then I attended the presentation, and I was pleasantly
surprised by the technology.

Oxygen Cloud’s odrive presentation


 CEO and Founder Peter Chang started the presentation by telling us a little about the company, which is essentially an extension of his first company called LeapFILE (another file transferring
solution). Chang’s idea for Oxygen Cloud — and,
more specifically, the company’s odrive (pronounced oh drive) solution — is to allow users
to more efficiently share files from anywhere in their infrastructure. This removes the need to move files in and
out of some drive in the cloud, and users and administrators can
continue to use what they’re familiar with such as file servers, storage
arrays, NAS devices, and so on. People working remotely can still get to their files in a secure way
without having to hop on a VPN.

Watch the demo

We watched a demo that showed this solution will work
with Windows, Mac, and Linux. In the
demo, Leo Leung, VP of Product, showed us how easy the solution is to use. He invited someone to share files with, and then he was able to specify which directories (accessible from his computer) that person is allowed to see.

Active Directory integration is on the roadmap. They didn’t answer questions about whether NTFS and domain
ACLs will be supported in the generally available release; it sounds like they’re keen to make that
tightly integrated, though.

Oxygen Cloud handles versioning by branching. So,
if two people make changes to the same file, a copy of the file is created with
a different name representing that it’s a conflict.

For more information on what the product
looks like, watch
the demo video

The technology that makes all this happen

Chang explained that you’ll be using all of the components you already have, which is basically storage and end user devices. You
need to add a gateway to your storage, and you do that by downloading
their software and installing it on a Windows or Linux server. On the end
user device, the odrive client needs to be installed. Both the client and the gateway connect to
odrive, which is a cloud broker hosted by Oxygen Cloud. The company uses HTTP over SSL (HTTPS) to
communicate while ensuring encryption.

The really smart way they’re
doing this is not by pulling all of your files through that hosted
broker in the cloud — the odrive is simply telling the client where to connect to
the storage gateway and then is directly transferring data through a tunnel of
sorts. Chang said that if
you’re in the same network on the same Local Area Network (LAN), you’ll
still get the transfer speeds of your LAN network; your data is not going out into the public Internet and coming back again, as you can see in the video of the whiteboard session

You can have multiple end user devices connected to odrive
for the same user, and each device will see pretty much the same thing. A nice
thing about odrive is it doesn’t force you to download every file you have
out there — you can just sync the files you need (Figure A). Oxygen Cloud set it up so you download
metadata and see the folders for which you have access; you do need to sync them to
download all of the actual data, which can save a lot of storage space on your
end user device. Also, this is device
based, so you might have some things synced on your laptop and other things synced on
your tablet.

Figure A


Image credit: Oxygen Cloud 


I like this idea. I think the direct connection is key, and I haven’t seen this sort of
syncing and sharing architecture before with some of the larger vendors. I also think the integration with Active
Directory and access control within the domain will be very important, as well
as the ability to share easily with users outside your organization. When it comes to sharing with people outside your domain, it could be problematic to install the client.

This product is in beta and is currently slated for release in Fall 2014 (though that’s subject to change).

What questions do you have about Oxygen Cloud and odrive? Does this technology sound interesting to you? Share your questions and feedback in the discussion.