TORONTO — Panzura recently updated its cloud controller line with double the amount of flash capacity so users can cache more hot data locally for fast collaboration.
The company introduced six new models of its all-flash controllers that use 1TB SSDs rather than the 500GB in previous models; these controllers still allow for four, eight or 24 SSDs, upping maximum capacity to 24TB. The controllers use eMLC flash.
Dan Boggs, Panzura’s director of product management, told EE Times the controllers look like any local storage to users, who can collaborate on large files accessible from multiple locations via the cloud. There’s no fear of overwriting the work of others thanks to the company’s Global File System, which creates a single data repository in the cloud for all remote sites and supports real-time collaboration. He said customers are able to take advantage of the economics offered by cloud storage but still provide services to end users they expect with local file access.
Panzura has a significant number of customers in architecture, construction and engineering, which are often distributed businesses by nature and use large files for design and planning applications, said Boggs. A controller is placed at each company location, either in a virtual or physical appliance, and works with public and private cloud providers including Amazon, Google, HP Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Barry Phillips, Panzura’s chief marketing officer, said the company’s all flash-controllers have enabled its customers to greatly consolidate storage requirements. One went from more than 100TB down to approximately 10TB by moving all data for its 16 offices to the cloud and using Panzura flash-controllers; a great deal of duplicate data was discovered in the process.
Panzura introduced six new models of its all-flash controllers that use 1TB eMLC SSDs
Collaboration is a big driver for Panzura’s customers, Phillips said, regardless of industry, because the Panzura file system supports versioning by storing metadata in the flash, but customers with larger files for CAD applications, for example, particularly benefit from the performance of flash in these controllers because they reduce the time it takes to open a file as well as the time needed to synchronize data. He said using flash controllers can eliminate the need for other network infrastructure such as WAN optimization.
Phillips explained to EE Times that it was imperative to have all metadata in flash at each location, so while all data is in the cloud it also has the appearance of being local to users.
Boggs said Panzura’s experience has been that most power users have a consistent level of hot data they require; one reason for adding new flash controller models was to be able to grow the total file system that a customer could deploy since they are moving more data to the cloud.
Cloud controllers allow customers to centralize data and cache relevant data, said Henry Baltazar, senior analyst for infrastructure at Forrester Research. Bigger controllers with more flash storage capacity allow for more content at the edge and reduces the need to hit the cloud for data. “Everyone wants to take advantage of the cloud but doing it over WAN links is not sustainable.”
Although not all cloud gateway controllers use flash, most of the vendors have hybrid-flash options, said Baltazar, although he’s not seeing many that offer all flash solutions, which offer better performance than spinning disk and are more durable from a maintenance perspective, which is beneficial as businesses with multiple locations are not likely to have IT staff at every site, he said.
One of the drivers for cloud controllers on the enterprise is that many want to use services such as Amazon S3, but their legacy apps do not handle block storage, said Baltazar, and the further appeal of flash controllers is the ability to reduce access times to data. This space has been slow to develop, he added, but as flash is further commoditized it will become more viable.
— Gary Hilson covers memory and flash technologies for EE Times.