Friday Thought: Building a Cloud File Service

For many of the companies, non-profits, school systems, and local governments we work with, the desire to use the cloud is expanding beyond email and calendar.  These organizations are looking to move some or all of their file services into the cloud as well.


While the initial motivation is often to improve access to and sharing of information on projects, or in general, the planning process often reveals a greater value proposition. These secondary benefits derive from giving users direct access to data, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduced need for SSL VPN services and/or remote access, desktop, or virtual desktop solutions, resulting in lower hardware, software, networking, and support costs.
  • Reduced need for site-to-site links, enabling organizations to replace expensive point-to-point WAN links and MPLS networks with much less costly direct Internet access links.
  • Improved access to information from tablets and smart phones.
  • Reduced backup/restore costs, as physical infrastructure and in-house administration is replaced by cloud-to-cloud data protection services.

In short, cloud file services provide better user access to information, a simpler IT infrastructure, and lower costs.


Many services exist to provide cloud-based file services and organizations are best off if they  review their needs before making a selection.  Beyond methods of accessing the service, be sure to review your permissions/security requirements with the features and function of the service.

Building a file service also means having the necessary components to ensure a robust ecosystem.

  • Affordable storage purchased as used or in flexible blocks
  • Drive letter access (DLA) or Network Place access from Windows desktops
  • Drive type access from Mac desktops, if needed
  • Access from mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets
  • Ability to integrate user identity with your LDAP, Active Directory, or SSO service
  • Availability of cloud-to-cloud backup/restore services
  • Encryption of data at rest and in transit
  • Ability to set permissions in accordance with your business needs, policies, and procedures


Moving to a cloud file service starts with understanding your requirements and the impact of the change on your computing environment and your end users.  Which aspects of the ecosystem do you need/want?  How will the change effect the user experience?  How will a new file service fit in with your other cloud solutions?  With an understanding of requirements, you can better match your needs to the available solutions and map out a migration that minimizes risk and enhances the benefits of the move.


Google Apps and Google’s New Privacy Policy

The cloud world is buzzing as Google announced that effective March 1, 2012, it would consolidate more than 60 privacy policies for different services into a single, simplified policy covering all Google services.  Not surprisingly, we are already fielding calls from our Google Apps for Business / Education / Government customers with questions about the impact of the change.

Rest easy.  Here are the answers.

Not Much is Changing

The consolidated privacy policy is not changing how Google collects or uses information with individual services or across services.  The policy is providing a simpler, easier to understand document that is consistent across all services.  Google has also removed components of its existing privacy policies that are redundant with content in the Terms of Service policy for each service, which are also being updated and consolidated into a single, consistent policy.

Note that the Privacy Policy address how Google collects and uses information about individual users, but that the Terms of Service dictate how Google treats content you place or store using Google services.  To understand how your information is protected, you must review both documents.

Public and Free Services versus Business / Education / Government Services

The new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy provide a baseline for all services.  The Terms of Service clearly states that

“Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services.”

Google Apps for Business, for Education, and for Government all have these additional terms and settings.

Confidentiality in Google Apps for Business / Education / Government

The Terms of Service for Google Apps for Business, for Education, and for Government each define Confidential Information as follows:

Confidential Information means information disclosed by a party to the other party under this Agreement that is marked as confidential or would normally be considered confidential under the circumstances. Customer Data is Customer’s Confidential Information.

Very simply, the agreement defines all user/customer content in these services as confidential.

The Terms of Service prevent Google from accessing or disclosing customer information without permission and guarantee a standard of care related the security, availability, and privacy of customer information.


There are exceptions when Google may disclose or publicly display Google Apps for Business / Education / Government customers.

  1. A User Marks Content as Public:  If a user marks content as “public” or as “publish on the web”, the user is giving permission to Google and instructing Google to index the content in Google search engine and to make the content available to everyone publicly.   Google Apps administrators can limit user permissions to prevent them from marking content as public.
  2. Required Disclosure:  Per the Terms of Service, Google may “… disclose the other party’s Confidential Information when required by law but only after it, if legally permissible: (a) uses commercially reasonable efforts to notify the other party; and (b) gives the other party the chance to challenge the disclosure.”


While Google’s consolidation of privacy policies makes for great, sensational headlines, the reality is that their is no material change in how Google addresses information privacy.  For Google Apps for Business, for Education, and for Government customers, there is no change what so ever.

Cumulus Global Partners with 4th Bin Partner for Integrated e-Waste Solutions

Boston, MA – January 25, 2011 – Cumulus Global and 4th Bin jointly announced a new partnership designed to offer businesses, non-profits, schools, and local governments fully integrated e-waste solutions.  Through the partnership, Cumulus Global will offer its cloud-bound customers discounted, ecologically sound, e-waste recycling services for their retiring hardware and electronics.  Cumulus Global will help 4th Bin clients avoid e-Waste hazards by helping them move to cloud computing solutions, such as Google Apps and online backup services.

“Many organizations hesitate to dispose of e-waste out of concern for the legal and ecological issues and the cost,” noted Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “Partnering with 4th Bin lets us help our customers solve their e-waste dilemma.”
Based on New York City, 4th Bin provides door-to-door collection and recycling services in the metropolitan New York area and can arrange e-waste collection and recycling services throughout North America.

“4th Bin is committed to reducing e-waste throughout the technology life cycle,” added John Kirsch, Partner at 4th Bin.  “Our joint effort with Cumulus Global will help companies dispose of their current e-waste and avoid creating more in the future.”

As a cloud solutions provider, Cumulus Global does more than replace servers with cloud-based solutions.  A sound cloud computing strategy reduces the need for support servers, backup equipment, and networking gear.  Moving to cloud computing has a ripple effect that includes less equipment, reduced HVAC requirements, and reduced power consumption.

Cloud computing providers, like Google, are significantly more efficient than most in-house computer rooms and data centers.

About Cumulus Global
Cumulus Global ( helps small and mid-size businesses, non-profits, governments, and educational institutions thrive by delivering cloud computing solutions.  Serving clients from 1 to more than 1000 employees across numerous industries, we align technology with our clients’ goals, objectives, and bottom lines. We leverage our expertise, vendor relationships, and a diversified range of best-of-breed cloud services to create custom solutions with tangible value.

About 4th Bin
After seeing how much electronic waste (e-waste) is irresponsibly discarded, and knowing the City of New York will institute mandatory responsible disposal of e-waste, a team of IT professionals found a solution to this mounting problem and launched 4th Bin ( The company specializes in e-waste collection and recycling and is the only service in the city to do so.  Since the company began in fall of 2010, it has collected, recycled, or environmentally and ethically disposed of over 900,000lbs of e-waste from offices, schools, hospitals, factories, and residences in New York City. For the processing of e-waste, 4th Bin works exclusively with e-Stewards Certified recyclers ( who have been qualified as upholding the highest standard of environmental and social responsibility. The 4th Bin is the only company in New York City picking up electronic waste from local businesses and residents. The 4th Bin’s door-to-door e-waste recycling solution is convenient, simple and inexpensive. Dedicated to educating businesses and consumers about the hazards of electronic waste and providing a simple and inexpensive means of rescue and disposal, the 4th Bin believes in the reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy. Not only do we ethically and responsibly recycle or reuse all equipment we collect, the 4th Bin is also dedicated to giving back to our local community through partnerships and events.

Tuesday Take-Away: File Service Strategies with Google Docs

As more of our current and future customers move to the cloud, they have greater interest in moving beyond email, calendars, and chat.  More organizations see cloud file services as a way to improve access to information while simplifying IT infrastructure and lowering costs.  These organizations are right on the mark!

For those running Google Apps for Business, Education, or Government, the Google Docs service is a great foundation from which to build an integrated file service.  Here are some considerations and strategies.

Central Ownership

Every user has the ability to use Google Docs to store and share information, and to create a hierarchy of collections (just like folders) to organize and manage files.  When building a file service using Google Docs, you may want to consider central ownership of data that would normally be housed on shared space on a file server.

Central Ownership …

  • Puts all of the “file server” data under “Collections Shared with Me” in all users’ Google Docs screen, providing a consistent interface and experience.
  • Gives administrators control over permissions.
  • Avoids underlying document ownership issues.
  • Provides a central account for managing the amount of storage needed.
  • Further simplifies backup/recovery.

To setup central ownership of your file service, you will need to purchase or dedicate one account as the “file service” account.

Desktop Integration

While Google Docs is pretty good as a productivity suite, many of your users may want or need to continue using legacy desktop solutions.  The good news: you can store any file type in Google Docs; the bad news: opening up a browser to upload files is an intrusive extra step.

Fortunately, you can choose from several inexpensive third party solutions that provide desktop access to Google Docs.  When working with clients to pick the solution, we look to see if they need drive letter access (DLA) service and/or access via Network Places from Windows desktops and/or desktop drive access from Macs.  The solution we recommend will result from these needs and from the amount of local drive space available to cache online data.

Local Cache / Offline Access

By building a solution with a local cache, you can provide users with robust offline access to documents.  Additionally, a local cache lets desktop applications save locally, as they are designed to do, with the files synchronizing to Google Docs in the background.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about building a file server around Google Docs, please contact us directly, visit our web site, or join us for one of our upcoming events.

Friday Thought: Roads Paved with Good Intentions

We have all hear the proverb about roads paved with good intentions.  With all of the media attention on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) this week, it appears that we may have a well-needed detour.

While the media is portraying the SOPA/PIPA battle and the site blackout protests as a battle between big Hollywood and big Silicon Valley.  The reality is that SOPA and PIPA are bad for businesses and for small businesses in particular.

The intention behind SOPA and PIPA is good — stop online piracy of copywrited materials.  And one could argue that the current process of requesting the removal of individual items is not sufficient.  But SOPA and PIPA go too far in the other direction.

SOPA and PIPA give content holders, and the US Government, the right to shutdown entire sites and domains if they feel the site is improperly using intellectual property.  The act also forces sites that provide hosting and storage for others to monitor content and prevent illegal use.  Sounds like a good idea, but …

  • SOPA and PIPA allow sites to be shutdown without due process, forcing an accused site to prove its innocence.
  • Holding Google accountable for others’ YouTube content is like holding Verizon accountable for what you say over the phone.  It’s absurd.
  • Forcing hosting and cloud services to monitor and enforce will dramatically increase the cost of basic Internet services — from web hosting to email to file services.
  • Services you use could be shut down due to the actions of others, and you will have no recourse.
  • While the intention is to stop the big IP pirates, the laws apply to everyone.  Your web site could be shutdown if somebody violates a copyright when posting a comment on your blog.
  • The acts lack adequate protection from false accusations — unethical competitors can disrupt your business and bog you down in legal issues.

Beyond some of the big issues, both SOPA and PIPA present unnecessary risks to small and mid-size businesses.  Join us in opposing bad legislation, even if the intention is good.



Tuesday Take-Away: New Google Apps Admin Features

One of the common criticisms of cloud solutions and Google Apps is the lack of administrative capabilities.  For the most part, this criticism is unfounded as many of these capabilities are no longer needed when you are free from managing the hardware and network resources behind your applications.

Beyond the so-called “paradigm-shift”, Google is aggressively adding administrative capabilities.  Some of the new features include:

  • Restrict users ability to download “native”/legacy (non-Google) format files, such as .doc, .ppt, and .pdf files.
  • Allow delegated administrators to wipe mobile devices
  • Allowing delegated administrators to use non-primary domains
  • Expanded reporting and administrative APIs
  • Expanded Mobile Management, including:
    • Granular policies: Configure mobile settings at the organizational unit level
    • Device activation: Control what devices can connect to your users’ Google Apps data
    • Device console: View all mobile devices in your domain connecting with Google Sync or Android Sync

CumuluSuite for Libraries Launches with More Features and Savings

In a move designed to help public libraries address increasing dependence on technology in the face of shrinking budgets, Cumulus Global today launched CumuluSuite for Libraries, an E-Rate eligible, integrated email and collaboration solution designed to lower costs and improve communications and collaboration. Based on Google Apps for Government or Business, CumuluSuite for Libraries includes enhanced administration tools, premium support services, and options for data backup and email archive/discovery services. 

“We understand that libraries are struggling with limited budgets at the same time they are looking to benefit from new technologies”, stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global. “We offer libraries options that simplify their IT infrastructure, enhance capabilities, and lower both direct and indirect costs.”

With  the CumuluSuite for Libraries Basic package Libraries get the email, calendar, document collaboration, intranet, and video services of Google Apps bundled with unlimited support for their IT team.  For libraries required to retain emails under public records laws or policies other packages provide for compliant archiving and e-discovery services, as well as backup services for content in Google Apps and social media sites. Tier 2 end user support is optional with all bundles.

“The options help libraries pick a solution that meets their needs and budget”, added Falcon. “Libraries can select the services they need and deploy them without investing in capital equipment and software.  Libraries can also decide if they need the Business or Government editions of Google Apps.”

The window for libraries to apply for fiscal year 2012 E-Rate funding through the Universal Service Administration Company Schools and Libraries program ( opened on January 9th and closes in March. Through the program, libraries may be eligible for discounts and reimbursements of 40% or more. Information about CumuluSuite for Libraries and package options is available at

About Cumulus Global
Cumulus Global, formerly Horizon Info Services, helps small and mid-size businesses, non-profits, governments, and educational institutions thrive by delivering cloud computing solutions. Serving clients from 1 to more than 1000 employees across numerous industries, we align technology with our clients’ goals, objectives, and bottom lines. We leverage our expertise, vendor relationships, and a diversified range of best-of-breed cloud services to create custom solutions with tangible value.

Cumulus Global is a member of the American Library Association.

Helpful Webinars, Recorded for Your Convenience

Here are links to some of our recent webinars that you may find helpful.   You will be asked to “register”, so that we may track who is interested in these topics.

Google Apps for Libraries

The Google Apps Difference

The Google Apps-perience!

Cumulus Global Supports Occupy Google Apps Movement

In response to the growing number of small and mid-size businesses frustrated with “Big Tech” solutions, Cumulus Global announced it is formally and actively supporting the Occupy Google Apps movement. Small businesses throughout New England and across the United States are joining a new branch of the Occupy movement focused on protesting against “Big Tech”. Big Tech vendors burden small and mid-size businesses with extra features and extra costs without delivering additional value. Occupy Google Apps encourages small and mid-size businesses to shed their “Big Tech” burden and move to Google Apps for Business and other cloud computing solutions. 

“Small and mid-size businesses drive the economy and job creation, yet the big IT vendors treat small business like unwanted pets”, notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global and support of the Occupy Google Apps movement. “These vendors punish SMBs with unnecessary complexity and costs.”

Some of the gripes among Occupy Google Apps members include: Complex and expensive licensing options; forced hardware upgrades to run updated software; expensive upgrades without relevant new features; time-consuming patches an updates; and misrepresentation of hosted services as cloud computing.

“It is absurd that small businesses are paying consultants to figure out the best licensing option when buying basic software like operating systems and office productivity suites”, stated Falcon. “Occupy Google Apps is about easy to use, secure, and reliable services, and only paying for what you need.”

Cumulus Global, in support of the Occupy Google Apps movement, is actively helping businesses evaluate their IT services and plan their move to Google Apps and cloud computing. Information is available at or from Cumulus Global at

About Cumulus Global
Cumulus Global, formerly Horizon Info Services, helps small and mid-size businesses, non-profits, governments, and educational institutions thrive by delivering cloud computing solutions. Serving clients from 1 to more than 1000 employees across numerous industries, we align technology with our clients’ goals, objectives, and bottom lines. We leverage our expertise, vendor relationships, and a diversified range of best-of-breed cloud services to create custom solutions with tangible value.