Virtualization has been a major buzzword in the IT world for a few years. Now the buzz is getting bigger, as we draw close to the release of Windows Server 2008 on March 1. Microsoft has promised that the Hyper-V virtualization component (formerly called Viridian) will follow within 180 days. Of course, Microsoft already has Virtual Server and Virtual PC, as well as stiff competition on the virtualization front from VMWare and Citrix/XenSource.
With all these options, taking the plunge into virtualization can be a big and confusing step. Here are a few things you should know about virtualization and virtualization software before you start to plan a deployment.
#1: Virtualization is a broad term with many meanings
Virtualization software can be used for a number of purposes. Server consolidation (running multiple logical servers on a single physical machine) is a popular way to save money on hardware costs and make backup and administration easier, and that’s what we’re primarily focused on in this article. However, other uses include:
Desktop virtualization, for running client operating systems in a VM for training purposes or for support of legacy software or hardware.
Virtual testing environments, which provide a cost-effective way to test new software, patches, etc., before rolling them out on your production network.
Presentation virtualization, by which you can run an application in one location and control it from another, with processing being done on a server and only graphics and end-user I/O handled at the client end.
Application virtualization, which separates the application configuration layer from the operating system so that applications can be run on client machines without being installed.
Storage virtualization, whereby a SAN solution is used to provide storage for virtual servers, rather than depending on the hard disks in the physical server.
#2: Not all VM software is created equal
An array of virtualization programs are available, and the one(s) you need depends on exactly what you need to do. You might want to run a virtual machine on top of your desktop operating system, running a different OS, either to try out a new OS or because you have some applications that won’t run in one of the operating systems.
For example, if you’re using Windows XP as your desktop OS, you could install Vista in a VM to get to know its features. Or if you’re running Vista but you have an application you occasionally need to use that isn’t compatible with it, you could run XP in a VM with that application installed. For simple uses like this, a low-cost or free VM program, such as VMWare Workstation or Microsoft’s Virtual PC, will work fine.
On the other hand, if you need to consolidate several servers and thus need maximum scalability and security, along with sophisticated management features, you should use a more robust VM solution, such as VMWare’s ESX Servers, Microsoft’s Virtual Server or (when it’s available) the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2008. For relatively simple server virtualization scenarios, you can use the free VMWare Server.
#3: Check licensing requirements first!
As far as licensing is concerned, most software vendors consider a VM to be no different from a physical computer. In other words, you’ll still need a software license for every instance of the operating system or application you install, whether on a separate physical machine or in a VM on the same machine.
There may also be restrictions in the EULA of either the guest or host OS regarding virtualization. For example, when Windows Vista was released, the licensing agreements for the Home Basic and Home Premium versions prohibited running those operating systems in VMs, but Microsoft has since changed those licensing terms in response to customer input.
Windows Server 2008’s EULA provides for a certain number of virtual images that can be run on the OS, depending on the edition. This ranges from none on Web edition to one on Standard, four on Enterprise, and an unlimited number on Datacenter and Itanium editions.
#4: Be sure your applications are supported
Another issue that needs to be addressed up front is whether the application vendor will support running its software in a virtual machine. Because VMs use emulated generic hardware and don’t provide access to the real hardware, applications running in VMs may not be able to utilize the full power of the installed video card, for example, or may not be able to connect to some of the peripherals connected to the host OS.
#5: Virtualization goes beyond Windows
There are many virtualization technologies and some of them run on operating systems other than Windows. You can also run non-Windows guest operating systems in a VM on a Windows host machine. VMWare can run on Linux, and Microsoft previously made a version of Virtual PC for Macintosh (but did not port it to the Intel-based Macs). Parallels Desktop provides support for running Windows VMs on Mac OS X. Parallels Workstation supports many versions of Windows and Linux as both host and guest. Parallels Virtuozzo is a server virtualization option available in both Linux and Windows versions. Other virtualization solutions include:
Xen (now owned by Citrix), which is one of the most popular hypervisor solutions for Linux.
Q, an open source program based on the QEMU open source emulation software, for running Windows or Linux on a Mac.
Open VZ, for creating virtual servers in the Linux environment.
#6: Virtualization can increase security
Isolating server roles in separate virtual machines instead of running many server applications on the same operating system instance can provide added security. You can also set up a VM to create an isolated environment (a “sandbox”), where you can run applications that might pose a security risk.
Virtual machines are also commonly used for creating “honeypots” or “honeynets.” These are systems or entire networks set up to emulate a production environment with the intention of attracting attackers (and at the same time, diverting them away from the real production resources).
#7: Virtualization can increase availability and aid in disaster recovery
Backing up virtual machine images and restoring them is much easier and faster than traditional disaster recovery methods that require reinstalling the operating system and applications and then restoring data. The VM can be restored to the same physical machine or to a different one in case of hardware failure. Less downtime means higher availability and greater worker productivity.
#8: VMs need more resources
It may seem obvious, but the more virtual machines you want to run simultaneously, the more hardware resources you’ll need on that machine. Each running VM and its guest OS and applications will use RAM and processor cycles, so you’ll need large amounts of memory and one or more fast processors to be able to allocate the proper resources to each VM.
To run multiple resource-hungry servers on one machine, you’ll need a machine with hardware that’s capable of supporting multiple processors and large amounts of RAM and you must be running a host OS that can handle these.
#9: 64 bits are better than 32
For server virtualization, consider deploying a 64-bit host operating system. 64-bit processors support a larger memory address space, and Windows 64-bit operating systems support much larger amounts of RAM (and in some cases, more processors) than their 32-bit counterparts. If you plan to use Windows Server 2008’s Hyper-V role for virtualization, you have no choice. It will be available only in the x64 versions of the OS.
#10: Many resources are available for planning your virtualization deployment
Virtualization is a huge topic, and this article is only meant to provide an overview of your options. Luckily, there are many resources on the Web that can help you understand virtualization concepts and provide more information about specific virtualization products. The following list should get you started:
List of Well-Known Ports
Port numbers range from 0 to 65536, but only port numbers 0 to 1024 are reserved for privileged services and designated as well-known ports. This list of well-known port numbers specifies the port used by the server process as its contact port.
1 TCP Port Service Multiplexer (TCPMUX)
5 Remote Job Entry (RJE)
18 Message Send Protocol (MSP)
20 FTP — Data
21 FTP — Control
22 SSH Remote Login Protocol
25 Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
29 MSG ICP
42 Host Name Server (Nameserv)
49 Login Host Protocol (Login)
53 Domain Name System (DNS)
69 Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP)
70 Gopher Services
103 X.400 Standard
108 SNA Gateway Access Server
115 Simple File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)
118 SQL Services
119 Newsgroup (NNTP)
137 NetBIOS Name Service
139 NetBIOS Datagram Service
143 Interim Mail Access Protocol (IMAP)
150 NetBIOS Session Service
156 SQL Server
179 Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
190 Gateway Access Control Protocol (GACP)
194 Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
197 Directory Location Service (DLS)
389 Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
396 Novell Netware over IP
444 Simple Network Paging Protocol (SNPP)
458 Apple QuickTime
546 DHCP Client
547 DHCP Server
Microsoft has been preparing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs for a more aggressive Windows 10 upgrade strategy that the company will kick off shortly, according to the developer of a tool that blocks such upgrades.
“Over Thanksgiving weekend I started getting reports that the Windows Update ‘AllowOSUpgrade’ setting was getting flipped back on on a number of peoples’ PCs, and it keeps re-setting itself at least once a day if they switch it back off,” said Josh Mayfield, the software engineer who created GWX Control Panel. The tool was originally designed to make the “Get Windows 10” (hence GWX) applet go away after Microsoft installed it on consumer and small business Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs starting in March, then activated in June.
“This is new behavior, and it does leave your PC vulnerable to unwanted Windows 10 upgrade behavior,” he said.
Mayfield has been tracking Microsoft’s various moves since last summer to keep his GWX Control Panel up to date with new features required to block the upgrade from appearing on PCs, and from automatically beginning the install process.
The latest update to GWX Control Panel, which shifted the version number to 1.6, added background monitoring so that users did not have to repeatedly relaunch the app to detect changes in Microsoft’s upgrade strategy. Mayfield released GWX Control Panel 1.6 — which is a free download — on Nov. 24.
Concurrent with the release of GWX Control Panel 1.6, Mayfield began hearing from users that their PCs were being switched from a “do-not-upgrade-to-Windows-10” status to a “do-upgrade” state, often multiple times daily.
In an interview Friday, Mayfield said that the Windows 10 upgrade setting switcheroo on Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs was apparently due to continued updates that Microsoft has shoved onto the older devices. The Redmond, Wash. company has repeatedly re-served its original GWX app to PCs, often with undocumented changes, even if the machine already had the app, or even if the user had managed to uninstall it previously.
“Microsoft has released this update several times,” said Mayfield. “It doesn’t change the name of the update, but every version is new, with new binary files.”
Also in play, said Mayfield, were updates to the Windows Update client on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs that Microsoft has also pushed to customers: Windows Update was refreshed last week for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
Documentation for the Dec. 1 updates to Windows Update did not spell out all the changes, but did state, “This update enables support for additional upgrade scenarios from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and provides a smoother experience when you have to retry an operating system upgrade because of certain failure conditions. This update also improves the ability of Microsoft to monitor the quality of the upgrade experience.”
There’s more to those updates than that, Mayfield argued. “They’re telling [the PC’s] Windows Update client that this computer can be upgraded to Windows 10,” Mayfield said. “[The Windows Update client] is constantly checking settings several times an hour. It’s fully aware of the Windows 10 upgrade.”
The Get GWX updates and the more recent refreshes to Windows Update on Windows 7 and 8.1 are running in tandem, Mayfield said. “They’re working together,” he argued. “They’re laying the groundwork for something.”
That “something” is likely the next step in an unprecedented scheme by Microsoft to boost adoption of Windows 10.
In late October, Terry Myerson, the Microsoft executive who runs the Windows and devices teams — dubbed the “More Personal Computing” group — outlined how Microsoft would try to convince users of Windows 7 and 8.1 to upgrade to Windows 10. Rather than wait for customers running the older editions to request a copy of the new OS — the original idea from the summer — Microsoft will instead begin to automatically send the upgrade to PCs via Windows Update, the default security maintenance service.
The new push will be a two-step process, with the first kicking in this year, the second in early 2016. First, Microsoft will add the Windows 10 upgrade to the Windows Update list on Windows 7 and 8.1 systems as an “optional” item. That list can be examined by users, letting them choose — or not — each optional update.
Sometime next year, Microsoft will shift the Windows 10 upgrade from optional to the “recommended” list. Updates on that list are automatically downloaded and installed on most PCs.
While the Windows 10 upgrade delivered as a recommended update will automatically begin the installation process, the user will be able to refuse the OS change early in the process. “Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue,” Myerson promised in October.
Microsoft is counting on a large portion of users to allow that upgrade to proceed.
Many Windows users, however, are not yet ready to upgrade to Windows 10, and are tired of being bombarded with the nagging messages to change operating systems. That includes Mayfield, who wants to remain on Windows 7, a desire that prompted him to create GWX Control Panel.
Because he’s been closely monitoring how Microsoft force-feeds the upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 devices — necessary to keep his app in step with Microsoft’s changes — he’s become an expert on what the company has been doing, often surreptitiously, to prepare PCs for Windows 10 and execute its “get-Windows-10” game plan.
By monitoring his own test PCs — eight all told — and from the reports he’s received from GWX Control Panel users, Mayfield has concluded that Microsoft is manipulating Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs with behind-the-scenes changes, part of its effort to ensure Windows 10 ends up on as many devices as possible.
Microsoft’s original GWX app, for example, does more than just display an icon in the Windows 7/8.1 taskbar and let customers “reserve” a copy of the Windows 10 upgrade. “It’s pushed down three different processes that each had different jobs and were unrelated to the icon,” said Mayfield Friday. Currently, his GWX Control Panel monitors 10 different Windows settings that may leave a Windows 7/8.1 PC “potentially vulnerable to unexpected Windows 10 upgrade behavior,” Mayfield wrote in a Nov. 26 guide to his app.
Microsoft keeps changing those settings, sometimes adding new ones, without the user knowing, Mayfield said. For example, users have reported that their prior GWX Control Panel settings have been overridden by recent updates from Microsoft. In some cases, even Mayfield has been unable to figure out which components of Windows 7/8.1 were responsible.
It’s unknown whether Microsoft has, in fact, begun placing the Windows 10 upgrade on older OS-powered devices as an optional item in Windows Update. Microsoft has declined to provide more information than what Myerson gave out on Oct. 29 about the timetable for the upgrade hitting Windows Update. “We will soon be publishing Windows 10 as an ‘Optional Update’ in Windows Update for all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers,” Myerson said five weeks ago [emphasis added]. “Early next year, we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a ‘Recommended Update.'”
The lack of reports online, including on Microsoft’s own Windows 10 support forums, argues that the company has not yet started adding the upgrade to Windows Update on Windows 7/8.1 PCs.
The first move may happen as soon as Tuesday, Dec. 8, which is the month’s already-scheduled “Patch Tuesday,” the day Microsoft historically serves up security updates. Microsoft often uses Patch Tuesday to deliver other, non-security updates.
In Mayfield’s eyes, the background machinations conducted by Microsoft’s GWX app and the recent changes to the Windows Update client on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems are clues that the company is preparing for the upgrade reaching the optional list.
The GWX Control Panel app can be downloaded from Mayfield’s website. While the app is free, Mayfield does accept donations from appreciative users via PayPal. But he’s not getting rich from those donations. “I get a donation from about one in every thousand downloads,” he said Friday.
When users allow GXW Control Panel to run in the background, what Mayfield called “Monitor Mode” — and which debuted in version 1.6 — the app detects any behind-the-scenes changes Microsoft makes to Windows 7 or 8.1 to grease the wheels for the Windows 10 upgrade. Users can then use GWX to restore the PC’s settings to a “do-not-upgrade” state.
Criminals are tapping Web-based services that are advertised as tools to stress test customers’ networks but in actuality they are using them to launch DDoS attacks against victims, according to Akamai.
The paid sites can make DDoS attacks a viable option for actors looking to shut down targeted servers, the company says in its “State of the Internet/Security Q3 2015” report. “Many of the sites are simply DDoS-for-hire tools in disguise, relying on the use of reflection attacks to generate their traffic,” the report says.
One byproduct of this trend is that the duration of attacks is smaller than it has been during past quarters.
These subscription sites limit the duration of attacks to somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour, Akamai says. “Instead of spending time and effort to build and maintain DDoS botnets, it’s far easier for attackers to use booter-stresser tools to exploit network devices and unsecured service protocols,” according to the report.
These tools can’t generate the big attacks that can be launched from DDoS botnets, but attackers may use them because, for a time at least, they give an aura of anonymity by masking the origin of attacks.
The report is based on data observed and identified by Akamai on its network of more than 200,000 servers in more than 100 countries. The data can be influenced over time by the mix of Akamai’s customer base, new products and new attack-detection tools, so which may skew trends. Its network transmits 15% to 30% of Internet traffic.
Despite a drop in attack duration, the average attack detected during the quarter still lasted 18.86 hours, a drop from 22.36 hours a year ago.
The report says there are more DDoS attacks compared to last year at the same time and they not only don’t last as long on average and there are fewer attacks greater than 100GB. The number of biggest attacks detected by Akamai over the quarter, those over 100GBps, has dropped to eight from 17 in the same quarter of 2015.
Half of all DDoS attacks were against gaming sites, with software and technology firms combining to tally another 25%.
There were 1,510 DDoS attacks recorded for the quarter, up 180% from the year before and up 23% from the quarter before. Application layer DDoS attacks were up 26% over last year and infrastructure layer attacks nearly tripled, up 198%.
Web apps attacks were launched mainly against home networks.
The report took a look at where attacks originate and found that the U.K. (26%) was the source of the largest percentage of DDoS attacks, followed by China (21%) and the U.S. (17). Leaders in this category have fluctuated. Last quarter the top three were China (37%), U.S. (18%) and U.K. (10%). Last year it was China (20%), Brazil (17.5%) and Mexico (14%).
The report makes a number of predictions:
Expect more records set for DDoS attacks, with varying attack methods.
Because of the huge number of users and vulnerable devices located in the U.S., it will remain the top source of malicious traffic.
Attacks against gaming will continue as players look for competitive edges and as platforms remain vulnerable.
Retailers will suffer the vast majority of Web apps attacks because successful exploits prove so lucrative.
Most people now buy laptops for their computing needs and have to make the decision between getting either a Solid State Drive (SSD) or Hard Disk Drive (HDD) as the storage component. So which of the two is the better choice, an SSD or HDD? There’s no straight-forward answer to this question; each buyer has different needs and you have to evaluate the decision based on those needs, your preferences, and of course budget. Even though the price of SSDs has been falling, the price per gigabyte advantage is still strongly with HDDs. Yet, if performance and fast bootup is your primary consideration and money is secondary, then SSD is the way to go. For the remainder of this article, we will make a comparison of SSD and HDD storage and go over the good, the bad, and the ugly of both.
What is an SSD?
We’ll make no assumptions here and keep this article on a level that anyone can understand. You might be shopping for a computer and simply wondering what the heck SSD actually means? To begin, SSD stands for Solid State Drive. You’re probably familiar with USB memory sticks – SSD can be thought of as an oversized and more sophisticated version of the humble USB memory stick. Like a memory stick, there are no moving parts to an SSD. Rather, information is stored in microchips. Conversely, a hard disk drive uses a mechanical arm with a read/write head to move around and read information from the right location on a storage platter. This difference is what makes SSD so much faster. As an analogy, what’s quicker? Having to walk across the room to retrieve a book to get information or simply magically having that book open in front of you when you need it? That’s how an HDD compares to an SSD; it simply requires more physical labor (mechanical movement) to get information.
A typical SSD uses what is called NAND-based flash memory. This is a non-volatile type of memory. What does non-volatile mean you ask? The simple answer is that you can turn off the disk and it won’t “forget” what was stored on it. This is of course an essential characteristic of any type of permanent memory. During the early days of SSD, rumors floated around saying stored data would wear off and be lost after only a few years. Regardless, that rumor is certainly not true with today’s technology, as you can read and write to an SSD all day long and the data storage integrity will be maintained for well over 200 years. In other words, the data storage life of an SSD can outlive you!
An SSD does not have a mechanical arm to read and write data, it instead relies on an embedded processor (or “brain”) called a controller to perform a bunch of operations related to reading and writing data. The controller is a very important factor in determining the speed of the SSD. Decisions it makes related to how to store, retrieve, cache and clean up data can determine the overall speed of the drive. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty details for the various tasks it performs such as error correction, read and write caching, encryption, and garbage collection to name a few. Yet, suffice to say, good controller technology is often what separates an excellent SSD from a good one. An example of a fast controller today is the SandForce SATA 3.0 (6GB/s) SSD controller that supports burst speeds up to 550MB/s read and write speeds. The next gen SandForce 3700 family of controllers was announced in late 2013, and is quoted to reach a blistering 1,800MB/s read/write sequential speeds as well as 150K/80K random IOPS.
Finally, you may be wondering what an SSD looks like and how easy it is to replace a hard drive with an after-market device. If you look at the images below, you’ll see the top and undersides of a typically-sized 2.5” SSD. The technology is encased inside either a plastic or metal case and looks like nothing more than what a battery might:
The form factor of the SSD is actually the same as a regular hard drive. It comes in a standard 1.8”, 2.5”, or 3.5” size that can fit into the housing and connectors for the same-sized hard drives. The connector used for these standard sizes is SATA. There are smaller SSDs available that use what’s called mini-SATA (mSATA) and fit into the mini-PCI Express slot of a laptop.
What is an HDD?
Hard Disk Drives, or HDD in techno-parlance, have been around for donkey’s years relative to the technology world. HDDs were first introduced by IBM in 1956 – yes folks this is nearly 60-year old technology, thank goodness vacuum tubes for TVs didn’t last so long! An HDD uses magnetism to store data on a rotating platter. A read/write head floats above the spinning platter reading and writing data. The faster the platter spins, the faster an HDD can perform. Typical laptop drives today spin at either 5400 RPM (Revolutions per Minute) or 7200RPM, though some server-based platters spin at up to 15,000 RPM!
Top 10 keyboard shortcuts Using keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity, reduce repetitive strain, and help keep you focused. For example, to copy text you can highlight text and press the Ctrl + C shortcut. The shortcut is faster than moving your hands from the keyboard, highlighting with the mouse, choosing copy from the file menu, and then returning to the keyboard. Below are the top 10 keyboard shortcuts we recommend everyone memorize and use.
Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert and Ctrl + X
Both Ctrl + C and Ctrl + Insert will copy the highlighted text or selected item. If you want to cut instead of copy press Ctrl + X.
Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert
Both the Ctrl + V and Shift + Insert will paste the text or object that’s in the clipboard.
Use the above text input fields to highlight the “Cut or copy this text” text and press either Ctrl + C to copy or Ctrl + X to Cut the text. Once Cut Move to the next field and press Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert to paste the text.
Ctrl + Z and Ctrl + Y
Pressing Ctrl + Z will Undo any change. For example, if you cut text, pressing this will undo it. These shortcuts can also be pressed multiple times to undo or redo multiple changes. Pressing Ctrl + Y would redo the undo.
Use the above text input field to highlight some or all of the text and then press Ctrl + X to cut the text. Once the text has disappeared press the Ctrl + Z to undo the cut.
Tip: If you did the first example as well (cut and paste text) if you continue to press Ctrl + Z it is also going to undo that change.
Ctrl + F
Pressing Ctrl + F opens the Find in any program. Ctrl + F includes your Internet browser to find text on the current page. Press Ctrl + F now to open the Find in your browser and search for “shortcut” to find each time shortcut is mentioned on this page.
Alt + Tab or Ctrl + Tab
Pressing Alt + Tab switches between open programs moving forward. For example, if you have your browser window open and other programs running in the background press and hold Alt and then press tab to cycle through each open program.
Tip: Press Ctrl + Tab to switch between tabs in a program. For example, if you have multiple tabs open in your browser now press Ctrl + Tab to switch between open tabs.
Tip: Adding the Shift key to Alt + Tab or Ctrl + Tab moves backward. For example, if you are pressing Alt + Tab and pass the program you want to use, press Alt + Shift + Tab to move back to that program.
Tip: Windows Vista and 7 users can also press the Windows Key + Tab to switch through open programs in a full screenshot of the window.
Ctrl + Back space and Ctrl + Left or Right arrow
Pressing Ctrl + Backspace will delete a full word at a time instead of a single character.
Holding down the Ctrl key while pressing the left or right arrow will move the cursor one word at a time instead of one character at a time. If you want to highlight one word at a time, hold down Ctrl + Shift and then press the left or right arrow key to move one word at a time in that direction while highlighting each word.
Ctrl + S
While working on a document or other file in almost every program, pressing Ctrl + S saves that file. Use this shortcut key frequently if you’re working on anything important in case an error happens, you lose power, or other problem that causes you to lose any work since the last save.
Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + End
Ctrl + Home will move the cursor to the beginning of the document, and Ctrl + End will move the cursor to the end of a document. These shortcuts work with most documents, as well as web pages.
Ctrl + P
Open a print preview of the current page or document being viewed. For example, press Ctrl + P now to view a print preview of this page.
Page Up, Space bar, and Page Down
Pressing either the page up or page down key will move that page one page at a time in that direction. When browsing the Internet, pressing the space bar also moves the page down one page at a time.
Tip: If you are using the space bar to go down one page at a time, press the Shift key and space bar to go up one page at a time.
- You have a router, you need to get it connected and online. If your service provider gave you a modem when they activated your Internet service, this should be pretty simple. Just follow these steps:
- Turn off your modem,
- Unplug the modem’s Ethernet cable from the PC,
- Connect that cable to the WAN or Internet port on your new router,
- Power on your modem (wait for a minute or two),
- Next power on your router (wait for a minute or two),
- Now use another Ethernet cable to connect the PC to your router’s LAN port, and
- Turn on your PC.
Many companies use the file-sharing features of a popular proprietary desktop operating system. The main constraint is the limit on simultaneous connections to a single file share (10). The proprietary solution is to purchase a proprietary server OS license, and go on buying Client Access Licenses (CALs) for each additional connected device. However, Openfiler, an Open Source Storage Management Appliance, can be used very effectively in this situation, to deliver fantastic functionality and granular access control.