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FlexiHub Lets You Access And Manage Your USB Devices From Anywhere

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FlexiHub lets you access and manage remote USB devices from anywhere in the world. It can be even your remote backup solution, or your access control system. Below is our interview with Serge Sementsov, CEO of Eltima Software, company behind FlexiHub:

Q: What is Flexihub and how does it work?

A: Flexihub is just a great piece of software — a technology that seemed to be so complicated when we started, and turned out to be much simpler in everyday use than our other related products. Flexihub is evolving into a central device hub with millions of virtual USB and serial ports accessible for your personal, business, medical and particularly collective impact data management needs..

Flexihub is the hardware cloud that is easily accessible to every person in the world and is the perfect solution for every company who wants to manage their devices remotely and share them with other users within a LAN or WAN. It can become your remote backup solution, or your access control system. Flexihub can move massive volumes of data in one place. Thanks to its flexible user management, device sharing and connecting rules, it helps commercial, non-profit, educational, medical and other organizations access remote hardware from various collective partners to solve specific social and business problems.


Related: Bacula4 Backup – Unbeatable Levels Of Data Control And Protection

In simple words, Flexihub is a platform that joins multiple computers, scanners or other digital input devices into a distributed Cloud of USB and serial ports. By installing a piece of client software, anyone can connect their computers (Windows for now, but Mac and Linux coming really soon) to Flexihub. In Flexihub terms, we call these computers “nodes”. Every node runs a copy of Flexihub software. By creating your Flexihub account, you can now manage all your USB and serial devices from any of these nodes. You can connect them across your computers, and you can access them from any place in the world! We take care of your privacy, we guarantee security, and server connections are always established using 256-bit RSA keys, so data does not leave your computer unencrypted. Nodes are only used to transfer your own data, unlike commonly used peer-to-peer networks.

For the best performance, nodes need to be in direct contact with each other. Using a few nifty algorithms, our technology builds a virtual tunnel in case your nodes are behind firewalls or within networks with serious admins. In case Flexihub still fails to build a route for your data, it automatically switches into server mode, encrypts your data, and lets your nodes communicate through our secure cloud servers. Either way, Flexihub gets your data where you need it — no matter where your hardware is physically connected.

The most common use for Flexihub is found in hospitals where a lot of precision equipment is constantly moved around. There are several hospitals in the US and Europe that rely on Flexihub for accessing almost-real-time patient data remotely. The same story with schools. Many businesses nowadays prefer sharing pricey equipment instead of buying multiple items.

However the most innovative use for Flexihub is in managing collective impact networks on the community, state, national or international level. The “innovation hub” serves as the central nerve point at which all data, locally through globally, is retrieved and analyzed to determine, measure and find relationships among key predictors of social impact. The results are then compared to real-time cost data transferred in through Flexihub as well to allow Collective networks to communicate true impact per invested dollar (IPID)™ Hardware developers are recommending Eltima USB solutions, including Flexihub, as an inexpensive alternative to changing their client’s network infrastructure to manage access to newly purchased devices.


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Q: FlexiHub is a service for managing USB devices remotely, regardless of location. How did you come up with the idea?

A: Flexihub became a logical step for our existing solutions in the new Cloud-based era. When I came up with the idea, it didn’t take me long to mind-map it, and even come up with the name for the service. Luckily, the domain name was not registered. There’s no trademark yet, so we started building the new service fairly quickly. It took us about a year to code from a flowchart of black boxes into a working service ready to send out invites.

When I say that it’s based on our existing products, I mean USB Network Gate, Virtual Serial Port Driver (did you know Eltima was the first to develop it in 2001?), and Serial to Ethernet Connector. But that doesn’t mean we just recompiled them under a new name. No. Flexihub was written from scratch by 5 brilliant developers from Eltima’s in-house team. We never outsource. Flexihub fits natively into our product line of low-level software solutions, and is based on our 14-year experience with hardware and virtual serial ports, universal serial bus, data monitoring, and more.

It’s a common mistake to believe that modern computers don’t use serial ports. A lot of enterprise hardware is still connecting tons of their equipment to them. A lot of data is transferred everywhere in the world through virtual ports created by Eltima’s serial drivers. So, the idea was just to move it to the Cloud and let it make a collective impact. Simple as that. That’s where Flexihub is coming from.


Q: Serge could you tell us something more about your background?

A: I’ve been with Eltima Software for the last 14 years! Woohoo, that’s something. It was an amazing beginning of my IT life, and it is a great continuation for who knows how long. I started as a web developer, PHP, MySQL… all the standard stuff for every web programmer. Within a year, I found myself doing all sorts of things in the company: tech support and writing, user interfaces, product design, project management, etc. Very soon we realized our need to expand, so we hired more system programmers for our software team, and I was promoted to CEO. Today, I’m an executive consultant with a team of talented managers taking the lead with each of our departments: Windows software, Mac software, Marketing, QA, sales, and others. I’ve always concentrated on the technical approach to user interaction, team management and collective impact initiatives.

Q: Tell us something more about Eltima, the company behind Flexihub?

A: We used to call ourselves a shareware company just a few years ago. But shareware is not a friendly term these days. We used to develop software, and today not many people can tell freeware from trialware, for instance. We are a team of very technical professionals, system software developers, beta-testers, Internet-marketing specialists, UI designers, web-developers and support people. A total of 45 people work today at Eltima, and the company has offices in the USA, Germany and Ukraine. More than 60% of our clients are in the U.S., and about 30% are from the EU, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. We’ve been selling our software for 14 years now, and we have several completely different product lines that we produce. We saw many of them dying over the last decade, so we started several new ones (some of them not as successful as we had hoped, you know!). But we have always been great with system solutions –drivers, sniffing, data sync, ports, decompilation – that’s what Eltima is all about! And we love it!

Related: Startup Yonomi – Makes Interacting With Connected Devices Simpler

Q: What was technically the most challenging part of developing Flexihub?

A: Two things here: server speed and direct connection. Basically, these are both about data transfer rates, of course. But these were really challenging, and probably the most complicated and time-consuming. But I think we did a very nice job (of course!)… Flexihub is based on a combination of Bonjour, low-level router configuration and a number of other network technologies. My web-devs spent several months polishing scripts for Flexihub’s redirection server module, in order to support the massive amounts of data coming from some USB devices.

Actually, device support is also a real challenge, but frankly speaking, we solved that part with our USB Network Gate product, so it wouldn’t be fair to include it in this answer.

Q: What can we expect from you in the future?

A: Definitely cross-platform Flexihub. More tricky USB devices to be supported. Serial ports have just been implemented, so now you can share not only USB devices, but also old-school serial ones. More certification for Windows 10. A new version of the server side Flexihub module. A new SDK for other developers. More flexibility, for sure!

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