Getting Started

Introduction

Welcome to the CentreStack Server Installation Guide. This guide describes the installation tasks for CentreStack, the managed file synchronization and sharing solution.

CentreStack includes the CentreStack server, which runs on Windows server platform, and client agent applications for Web browsers, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and for mobile platforms such as the Android and the Apple iOS operating systems.

Overview

CentreStack is a managed file sync and share solution. It differentiates from other file sync and share solution (EFSS) by focusing on the security, control, file server and team collaboration. CentreStack does really well in the following areas:

  1. maintain security and permission of NTFS permission on files and folders
  2. provide on-demand access that honors read-only, and write permission in real-time.
  3. mirror local network share on file server to team collaboration in the cloud

CentreStack is pure software built on top of the Microsoft Web Platform:

  • Windows Server,
  • IIS (Internet Information Server),
  • .NET Framework and ASP.NET
  • WCF (Windows Communication Foundation)

Since CentreStack is built on top of the Microsoft Web Platform, it integrates very well with Microsoft components such as the NTFS Permission, Active Directory and File Server network shares.

It provides file access and sharing functionality through client agents for PCs, Macs, File Servers, Web Browsers, and Mobile Devices. The client agent software on Windows and Mac provide real drive mapping and volume mounting support that contains many optimization for WAN(wide area network) data transfer.

The services can be deployed in flexible combinations to meet different needs. There are two primary ways to deploy the CentreStack solution.

  1. deploy CentreStack solution in the same network as the File Server and the Active Directory server, in a single company deployment mode.
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  1. deploy CentreStack in a centralized location, such as in Amazon data center, or Windows Azure data center, or in a data center where MSPs (Managed Service Provider) have their infrastructure.
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There are four different system components (logical components that can co-exist in the same server). In the smallest deployment unit, the four different components can co-exist in one single machine (all-in-one deployment).

1. Web Node Component - Load Balancing

If you have a hardware load balancer or other kind of load balancing, web node is not required. Using worker node instead since worker node has web node functionality by default. The Web Node functions include Account Management, Sign-In and Load-Balancing services. Depending on the load, you may need 1 to N such nodes. Normally, we recommend for every 1 web front node, you should have 10+ worker nodes.

When you have small deployments you can skip web nodes and combine them into worker nodes. The installation is the same for web node as well as worker node. The only difference is in the management user interface, it is put in the worker node section or the web node section. If you do not need the Web Nodes there is no need to assign them in the cluster manager web portal.

Example: ACME Corporation deploys two web nodes ‘node1.acme.com’ and ‘node2.acme.com’. Each node is running a copy of CentreStack, connecting to the same SQL database.

ACME Corporation acquires a domain name (DNS) of cloud.acme.com which can be load balanced to ‘node1.acme.com’ and ‘node2.acme.com’.

When users point their browsers to https://cloud.acme.com, their login page is directed to one of the nodes.

Note

If you have hardware load balancing available, you do not need to use web nodes at all.

Note

Windows 2012 comes with Network Load Balancing (NLB). If you use NLB, you do not need web nodes at all.

Basically when you have any other means of doing load balancing, you don’t need dedicated web nodes at all. You can use worker nodes directly behind your load balancer.

2. Worker Node - User and Data Management

The worker node contains services like Web Browser Based File Manager, Storage Service Connectors, Active Directory connectors and other key components. Again, additional nodes can be added as the load increases.

3. Database - Configuration Information and Log

The database contains persistent information for the system. The persistent information includes static configuration information such as user name, file storage and active directory connection information. The database also stores dynamic information such as activity log, file change log and audit traces.
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Note

If you have hardware load balancer or other kind of load balancer, you don’t need web nodes from the above picture.

4. File Storage - Where to Store Files and Folders

The file storage component is the persistent storage location for files and folders. There are two different types of storage services. One is managed by CentreStack, such as the default storage for the cluster and the default storage for tenants. The other is imported storage, for example, existing file server network shares that wasn’t managed by CentreStack but can be imported to CentreStack for remote and mobile access.

Deployment Diagram

In this installation guide, we will deploy the solution based on the diagram shown below. If this is the very first time you are installing CentreStack, it is recommend that you try the All-In-One Deployment on a single machine first. Once you are more familiar with CentreStack components and its functionality, you can start setting up a production environment similar to the deployment diagram shown below.

Note

For small number of users (< 1000 users), you can have one CentreStack server that contains all the web node, worker node, database and file storage components and use it for production environment.

It doesn’t have to be a multi-server setup until you need high availability or high scalability or a clean separation of different layers of the components.

In this guide, we use Windows DFS Network File Share as the backend storage. If you are using OpenStack Swift, Amazon S3-Compatible or Windows Azure Blob, they will work as well. The Storage Configuration page will be different for different storage options.

In this installation guide, we will be using Windows Server 2012 R2, which is the recommended Server Operating System for CentreStack solution. (Other supported Operating Systems are Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2012 and Windows 2016)

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From a different perspective, including the clients and the ports, the diagram may look like this:

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