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Panzura enables 'in-cloud NAS' for Microsoft Azure

Panzura’s Global File System (GFS) is certified to run in Microsoft Azure, giving customers a second “in-cloud NAS” option with a major cloud provider.

The GFS, running on Panzura’s Cloud Controller, has been available in Amazon since November 2013. But Barry Phillips, chief marketing officer at Panzura, said the company didn’t see Microsoft Azure object storage taking off from a storage perspective until last year.

“It went from not having many on Azure storage to having a large number on Azure storage,” he said.

Phillips said, under a typical scenario, customers move all of their unstructured file data into a public or private “cloud bucket.” Panzura caches the hot data on premises in a controller that runs in a physical appliance or a virtual machine. Panzura sells all-flash and hybrid cloud controller for on-premise use. Colder data that customers rarely use is stored in the cloud. Panzura supplies the global file system to interface to object storage such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Google, EMC’s Atmos and IBM’s Cleversafe.

By enabling the Panzura Cloud Controller to run in Azure and Amazon, Panzura is giving customers the opportunity to use the same global file system on premises and in the public cloud. Customers also have the option to run their applications in Azure and Amazon and use Panzura as in-cloud NAS, with no on-premise file storage.

The Panzura Cloud Controller is available on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

“We fundamentally believe going forward that as companies move to the cloud, being able to put all of their file system in the cloud itself whenever possible is something that they’ll be looking to do,” Phillips said. “Of course, if the distance to their office is too far from any cloud, then they can certainly run one of our on-premise cloud controllers.”

He said remote access of a file system over a long distance would be slow because of bandwidth and latency. But a customer could mix and match, with some branch offices running on-premise controllers while others have no on-site infrastructure and use only the in-cloud NAS, he said.

Phillips said customers also are able to mesh together file systems in Azure and in Amazon using the Panzura software. “It’s not an either/or with us,” he said.

Microsoft Azure operates data centers in 22 regions around the world. Locations include California, Texas, Illinois, Iowa and Virginia in the U.S.

“As more and more companies want to move their infrastructure into the cloud but still have on-premise performance, then having those data centers in the middle of the U.S. is helpful,” Phillips said.

The Panzura Cloud Controller provides capabilities such as global file locking, to enable users to work with applications built for local use over a wide area network (WAN), global snapshots, deduplication and compression, and security for data at rest and in transit between controllers and the cloud.

“Our customers essentially have Panzura controllers and a cloud bucket. That is all,” Phillips said. He said workflow, operational expenses, and maintenance of backup and archive go away, because cloud providers such as Amazon store multiple copies of the data and can withstand two data centers going down.