What’s New In Filr 3.0?

Most of you will be aware that Filr version 3 was released at the end of last year.  This added a number of significant changes to the product, most notably the ability to share Net Folders and to rebrand, not just the Web client, but also the desktop and mobile clients to your corporate look and feel. However these two features are not part of the Standard Edition of Filr.

Before we begin some of you may be wondering what is Filr? Filr is an appliance based product that solves two of your problems; how to let your users access their existing file systems when on the move and how to enable your users to securely share files with internal and external users.

The great thing about it is that there is no need to move your files.  They stay exactly where they are, and there is nothing to install on existing OES, Windows or SharePoint servers. Your existing production environment is not impacted by a Filr implementation and users can continue to access files in the same way that they always have.

Two Editions?

There are now two editions of Filr. In addition to the standard edition there is also an advanced edition. Standard is the edition that current Filr users have been using and the entitlement that is available to customers as part of their OES/NOWS/NOWS SB maintenance. Advanced is new and has a few additional features that are not available in the Standard edition.

Both editions will continue to have features added to them, though the gap between the two will widen in the future.  Both editions use the same appliance with the advanced features being enabled by the purchase of the appropriate license key.

Micro Focus Filr

The first thing you will notice is that Filr has been rebranded as Micro Focus Filr.  Not only has the name changed but so have the logos. Gone is the old red and in with the blue.  The Filr product page (https://www.microfocus.com/products/filr) is one of the first to be moved over to microfocus.com.

Branding

Not only has the product branding changed, but there is now a capability for an organisation to brand, not just the web interface, but also to impose corporate branding on the desktop and Mobile clients.  This is delivered as a zipped archive containing the graphics and formatting information for each platform.  For more information please see Lothar Wegner’s article in this issue of Open Horizons Magazine that goes into more detail on how to configure this.  Whilst the desktop and mobile branding is part of the advanced edition, the Web branding remains in the standard edition.

Net Folder Sharing

Most probably the enhancement many of you have been waiting for is the ability to share sub folders from Net Folders.  You have always been able to share folders from the ‘My Files’ directory but this has been lacking in Net Folders.

There are obviously some security issues involved with sharing an entire sub-directory structure from somewhere multiple users have rights to access.  When you share a Net Folder, Filr will check the directory structure and only allow the sharing rights based on the minimum rights that the user has in the entire directory structure.

A user may have read/write access at the parent level, however should they have read only access to a subdirectory the maximum rights they will have to share a folder will be View.  Be aware that if there is a sub folder they do not have access to they will not be able to share the folder at all.

Online Updates

We have all got frustrated in the past when downloading patches, then having to apply them.  Indeed, even knowing that there is a patch to apply is difficult at times.  However, this problem has now been resolved with an “Online Update” channel for Filr.

You can obtain the registration code from the Customer Centre.  This can go directly against the patch channel, or alternatively you can point it at a SMT (Subscription Management Tool) server for local delivery of the patches (see figure 1).

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Figure 1: The Filr update service

Desktop Client

In addition to the new branding options for the Desktop client there are some further changes.

  • The desktop clients are now registered in much the same way that Mobile clients are, so now you can see which clients a particular user is using (see figure 2).
  • Desktops clients can now be wiped remotely.  This will remove the cached data and any connection/authentication details, so should a laptop be lost the data can be removed when it next connects.
  • The cache timeout can now be set centrally by the administrator, and even better it can be locked so the user cannot override it locally.
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Figure 2: Mobile and desktop clients registered

Further Enhancements

  • Encryption of Filr database communication: Until now the communication between the  application appliance and the database has been unencrypted, which is not too much of an issue if the two are on the same machine, but in a large system could be perceived as a security issue.  When setting up the database you can now select the option for the communication to be encrypted (See figure 3).
  • NSS for AD: For those of you that are exposing OES 2015 NSS AD net folders, SMB v2 support has been added.  This means that file access is significantly faster.  This helps with not only retrieving files but also the time taken to run a synchronisation of the file system.
  • Windows Server 2016 support: With previous versions of Filr you could set up Net Folders to expose a folder structure on a Windows Server 2016 and it would work, although this was not supported.  In Filr 3 this is now officially supported.
  • Terms and Conditions: Some customers were concerned that they were letting external users into their Filr environment without having an opportunity to present their organisation’s Terms and Conditions.  Now when an external user signs up they can view the company’s Terms and Conditions.
  • Commenting: Something else that has been added is the ability to enable or disable users from commenting on files.
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Figure 3: Encrypting database communication
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Figure 4: setting the terms and conditions

Future Features

The next year will be an exciting time for Filr.  We will see many new features added to the product.  Those currently planned include:

  • Support for Multi Factor Authentication
  • Desktop client encryption of files
  • DLP (Data Loss Prevention)options
  • File versioning
  • A Linux desktop client
  • Multi Tenancy
  • Shibboleth support

There will be more on these in a future magazine article.

If you wish to find out more about Filr then please have a look at the Filr home page at www.microfocus.com/products/filr.  This provides much more information on the product, including a number of success stories and videos.

You can download an evaluation by accessing the ‘Trial Download’ option in the top right of the page.  The evaluation has a licence key for the Advanced edition valid for 60 days.  Please see p31 for details of the current Filr promotion.

 

This article was first published in OH Magazine Issue 36, 2017/1, p4-6

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