Cloudinary Blog

How to automatically migrate all your images to the cloud

by Nadav Soferman
Image cloud storage, auto-migrate images to the cloud
Website developers and administrators today tend to find themselves managing quite a few files, images and other media assets. Whether you upload content to your web application yourself, allow your users to upload files or have files imported from content partners, you'll need to handle the upload process, storage, and possibly thumbnail creation required to showcase your assets online.
 
Many website developers consider moving their assets from hosted storage to cloud-based storage solutions. While somewhat costlier, these modern storage services offer nearly limitless scale and close to 100% uptime.
 
To start using a cloud-based storage, you'll first need to migrate your existing images to the cloud. 
 
One way to go at it is to take a plunge, migrate all your existing images to the cloud and update your application to start uploading new images to cloud, going forward. You can use Cloudinary's upload APIs to simplify this process.
 
Another option is to keep maintaining your images in your existing storage location(s), and use dynamic fetch URLs to let Cloudinary fetch these images on-demand, manipulate them on-the-fly and deliver these optimized to your visitors.
 
Today, we wanted to introduce a new, powerful integration option - Cloudinary's new Automatic image uploading, which combines the advantages of dynamic image fetching from existing online locations with the advantages of managing new images directly in the cloud. This method allows lazy migration to the cloud as well as other powerful origin pulling options.
 

Origin pulling - Automatic image uploading 

Cloudinary already supports fetching images dynamically from remote HTTP URLs while manipulating these on-the-fly
 
For example, the following URL dynamically fetches an image from Wikimedia, manipulates it and delivers it optimized via a fast CDN. You can further secure this powerful feature by limiting the set of domains you allow your Cloudinary account to fetch images from, or even require that all fetch URLs will include unique server-side signatures.
 
 
Fetch URL from Wikimedia
 
 
The new Automatic image uploading offers similar fetching capabilities, but instead of treating the image as a cached resource, the image is uploaded to Cloudinary on first access and treated as a first class Cloudinary citizen from then on.
 

Setting your automatic image uploading

To use the new Automatic image uploading feature, start by visiting the Settings page of Cloudinary's Management Console, and define an initial mapping between a folder name to a base remote URL. Defining remote URL prefix allows your Cloudinary delivery URLs to be shorter and more SEO friendly, and gives you fine-grained control on which remote domains are allowed for automatic uploads.
 
Folder mapping settings  
As you can see in the screenshot above, we configured the 'remote_media' folder to be mapped to 'http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/' base URL. 
 
You can now access Cloudinary delivery URLs with the 'remote_media' folder prefix. Cloudinary will automatically fetch the remote image from the origin URL and store it in your Cloudinary account. From that point on, remotely fetched images are treated just like any image that was uploaded to the cloud.
 
For example, we want to take the following image from Wikimedia, and automatically upload it to Cloudinary:
 
Simply accessing the following Cloudinary URL will dynamically fetch the remote image and create an upload image resource in your cloud-based media library with the 'remote_media/2/26/YellowLabradorLooking_new' ID.
 
 
Automatically uploaded Wikimedia image
 
Embedding such an image in your code can be easily done using Cloudinary's client libraries. For example, in Ruby on Rails:
<%= cl_image_tag("remote_media/commons/2/26/YellowLabradorLooking_new.jpg") %>
 
This image is now available for further manipulation and CDN delivery like any other image uploaded to Cloudinary. For example, the following URL crops a 300x300 thumbnail of the original image, makes it circular, applies a sharpen effect, increases color saturation by 70% and delivers the image optimized and cached via Akamai’s CDN:
 
 
Automatically uploaded and cropped Wikimedia image
 
Creating an HTML image tag with such a manipulation URL, in PHP for example:
 
<?php echo cl_image_tag("remote_media/commons/2/26/YellowLabradorLooking_new.jpg",
              array(
                array( "width" => 300, "height" => 300, "crop" => "crop",
                       "gravity" => "north_west", "radius" => "max",
                       "effect" => "sharpen" ),
                array( "effect" => "saturation:70" ))); ?>
Cloudinary’s auto-upload folder mapping allows you to further map multiple folder names to different base remote URLs. In addition, instead of using a sub-folder, you can use your root folder ("/").
 

Automatic uploading of non-image raw files

While Cloudinary focuses on image management, you can actually upload files of any type to Cloudinary. Cloudinary will store such “raw” files safely in the cloud, including multiple backups and revision history and deliver these via a CDN. 
 
The new automatic uploading capability supports fetching remote raw files as well as image files.
 
For example, the following Excel spreadsheet is available under the same Wikimedia base URL that we already mapped on Cloudinary.
 
 
In order to automatically upload the raw files, the resource type should be set to 'raw' and the public ID of the resource is the remainder part of the remote URL, in this case 'zh/d/d3/Statistics_for_wikipedia_in_top_ten_languages.xls'
 
 
The following Node.js and Python code show how to generate such a URL in a more developer-friendly way:
cloudinary.url("remote_media/zh/d/d3/Statistics_for_wikipedia_in_top_ten_languages.xls", 
               { resource_type: 'raw' } );
cloudinary.utils.cloudinary_url("remote_media/zh/d/d3/Statistics_for_wikipedia_in_top_ten_languages.xls", resource_type = "raw")

 

Lazy migration and automatic upload of S3 images

A one-time bulk migration is always a good option, but when your existing web application already manages millions of images, a lazy migration from your existing online image URLs might be a simpler approach.
 
So far, we've shown how you can upload images to Cloudinary on-the-fly from remote locations. This method is quite powerful when handling external images, but also enables you to lazily migrate your own images to Cloudinary's cloud-based image management solution.
 
Lazy migration is made possible since our new automatic image upload URLs share the exact URL convention as our regular uploaded image URLs. This means that for each image accessed, Cloudinary first checks whether an image with the given public ID exists, and if it doesn't (and it matches a given auto uploading folder mapping), it is fetched on-the-fly from the remote host.
 
To migrate private resources to Cloudinary, you can also map remote S3 URLs. Please contact us if you want this option enabled for your account.
 
For example, the S3 bucket of 'sample-private-images' contains the image 'dogs/dog1' that is blocked from public access:
 
We'll go ahead and define a folder mapping between the 'app_images' folder to '
s3://sample-private-images/'. 
 
S3 folder mapping settings
 
Now simply accessing Cloudinary URLs with the 'app_images' folder prefix fetches the remote images from their S3 source. The image can then be delivered and further manipulated.
 

Automatically uploaded private S3 image 
 

Going to Production 

Now that all existing images are automatically uploaded to Cloudinary when first accessed, we can go ahead and update our live application. The following Ruby upload command uploads a given image file to the 'app_images/dogs' folder using 'dog2' as file name (i.e., the public ID is 'app_images/dogs/dog2'). Note that if your model includes the full public ID path, you don't need to specify the 'app_images' folder explicitly.
Cloudinary::Uploader.upload(params[:file], :folder => "app_images", 
                            :public_id => "dogs/dog2")
The new uploaded image is available for delivery via a URL of an identical convention of the automatically uploaded one:
 
 
New uploaded image 
Both the lazily migrated image and the newly uploaded image can now be similarly manipulated using Cloudinary's cloud-based image manipulations and delivered optimized via a CDN. Below is an example of the two images cropped to fill a 200x200 circle with a dark gray border of 6 pixels.
 

Automatically uploaded and manipulated image

 
New uploaded and manipulated image
 
The following Ruby on Rails code generates an image tag with the same manipulation URL as above:
<%= cl_image_tag("app_images/dogs/dog1.jpg", :width => 200, :height => 200, 
                 :crop => :fill, :gravity => :north, :radius => :max, 
                 :border => "6px_solid_rgb:333") %>
Same example in .Net:
@Model.Cloudinary.Api.UrlImgUp.Transform(
  new Transformation().Width(200).Height(200).Crop("fill").
    Gravity("north").Radius("max").Border("6px_solid_rgb:333")).
      BuildImageTag("app_images/dogs/dog1.jpg")

Restricting access to automatically uploaded images

The lazy migration example above allows public access to the original image as well as all its derived versions. As an alternative, you can automatically upload remote images as 'private' and restrict manipulations using Cloudinary's strict transformations. 
 
You can restrict 'Uploaded' image access and enable 'Strict Transformations' from the settings page:
 
Restricting access settings
 
 
You can now access the image using the 'private' image type and upload new images as private as well. This prevents access to the original image and permits access only to allowed or signed transformed image versions.
 
For example, access to the following private image is blocked, while access to its derived image below is allowed:
 

150x200 thumbnail of an automatically uploaded image
 
 
The following Java snippet uploads new images as private:
Map result = cloudinary.uploader().upload(new File("new_dog.jpg"), Cloudinary.asMap(
  "folder", "app_images", 
  "public_id", "dogs/dog2",
  "type", "private"));

Summary

With Cloudinary's powerful new automatic image uploading capability, migrating assets of an existing dynamic website or mobile application to the cloud has never been easier.
 
Automatic uploading and folder mapping, including support for images, non-image raw files, private images, HTTP/S URLS and S3 URLs is now available for all Cloudinary's plans. 
 
If you haven't done so already, you can sign-up to Cloudinary’s fully featured free account.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Recent Blog Posts

How Answers.com manage millions of images

by Orly Bogler
How Answers.com utilizes Cloudinary to manage millions of images

When was the last time you've asked Google about your favorite band, movie star, or personal hobby? I can only assume that one of the first results that came up was from Answers.com. Nearly everyone knows this website, which is on the Quantcast Top 10 most visited sites in the world.

Read more
Control the zoom level with automatic image cropping

Many websites now offer their users the ability to upload images and profile pictures, making it a challenge for web designers to maintain a certain graphic design and style when subsequently displaying these images. The profile pictures may need to be smartly cropped to focus on the faces, with some sites that prefer close-ups of faces and others that prefer including more background when displaying images of people.

Read more
Introducing cloud based service for video management

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. For modern websites, a video surely takes the visual impact to a whole new level.

Nowadays, people enjoy the amazing capability of shooting videos with smartphone cameras that easily fit in their back pockets and are accessible nearly everywhere. Modern web applications have an opportunity to dramatically increase their visual impact by showcasing these videos online. Between news reports, user shared video snippets, explainer videos and ad campaigns, we see more and more videos appearing daily in our visited websites.

Read more
Automatic and accurate red eye removal with Cloudinary

Red eye often happens due to the use of flash in low light conditions as the light hits the eye very quickly and into the retina. It then bounces off of the back of the eye and emits a red color due to the blood vessels there. Although more professional modern cameras and flashes generally prevent this from happening, red eye may still occur with simpler, smaller cameras (including smartphones). There are various software solutions for red eye removal available on mobile devices and desktops, some of which require manual processing to get good results.

Read more
How to detect and prevent malware infected user uploads

Social networking sites allow users to upload images or other types of files that are immediately available to other users via news feeds or notifications. In some cases, attackers can directly spread infected files, but more commonly, they leverage the viral effect and the fact that users are simply unaware that their files are infected through sharing and collaborating with others. As a site owner or application developer, it is your responsibility to protect users and prevent these situations from occurring. Fortunately, Cloudinary makes this easier with its Metascan add-on.

Read more