Geeks With Blogs
Jeff Krebsbach
A client needs a tool where internet users can upload CAD files through an internet portal and after being approved those CAD files then need to be accessible to users internal to the company.  Azure blob storage is a great utility to store these large files - since by default everything is available via http - but we wanted a bit of security associated with these CAD files being uploaded, so we didn't just want to expose public urls.  There was also a wide range of users needing access to the CAD files, and some people needed to be able to update and modify those files.  Temporary URLs can be generated, but that creates the extra overhead of needing to know ahead of time when somebody will want a URL.  There are tools like Cloudberry Azure Explorer, and utilities designed to expose Azure blob storage as a mounted drive, but these utilities would involve installing custom software on any machine that might need to have access to the CAD files.

Better yet: expose the Azure Blob storage data through an FTP portal.  

In a matter of minutes, I was able to download FTP 2 Azure and set up a stand-alone Azure web role using the provided azure package.  The provided config file allows you to define the storage connection string and create custom users mapped directly to Azure blob containers, and provide custom passwords for each user.

Finally I also created a web portal with my favorite jQuery file upload widget allowing outside internet users that do not have the FTP credentials to submit their CAD files to the client's service.  Now anybody with the appropriate FTP credentials access can open and modify the uploaded files on the other side without needing to know the details of an Azure Blob storage backend, or be concerned with public storage keys.

10/3/2013 Update:

After using the FTP 2 Azure package for a few days, suddenly the FTP site "stopped working".  I was able to authenticate against the FTP server, but after login I was unable to get a directory listing.  I downloaded a few different FTP clients to see if I could get more information on what was happening.

Invalid credentials would not authenticate, valid credentials would authenticate - so it appeared the FTP site was running... So I removed all of the files from the FTP site and suddenly it started working again.

One by one I brought the files in until I noticed - Files with a space in the name cause FTP 2 Azure to have problems.  The package is open source, so maybe the next step is to see why spaces are actually causing problems... Either way - I modified the upload process so that spaces are replaced with underscores and so far the problem of my FTP site note being able to give a directory listing has not returned.
Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013 9:24 PM azure , blob storage , ftp , large files , internet , security | Back to top

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