imgresIn this Episode I’m with David Friedlander, who does technical marketing and product strategy for Panzura. And we talk about:

– An introduction to the company
– Panzura Cloud Global Filsystem Architecture
– Security
– Benefits for end users and their infrastructures

Here the transcript of the show

Enrico: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Juku Bits. Today, I’m here with David Friedlander who runs product and technology marketing at Panzura. Hi David, how are you?

David: Great. Thanks Enrico. I’m doing very well and thanks for hosting me on the podcast.

Enrico: Good. You know the format of this podcast, so we go … We usually go straight to the question. I would like you to introduce Panzura for a few seconds.

David: Sure. Thanks. We’re doing something really interesting and new in cloud storage. We see a lot of attempts to solve this problem that we address with cloud storage, but nothing that we’ve worked is quite the same way which is really to use cloud storage as your primary storage and allow users to collaborate across the globe really from one storage system as your primary storage.

Just a little background. We’re founded actually in 2008 by some of the folks who led Aruba and Alteon Networks and we have folks from NetApp and Vmware, Citrix on board. We have a fairly diverse team. Our investors actually include a couple of strategic investors like SanDisk and Chevron as well as some of the VCs like Khosla, Matrix, and Meritech, and Opus have invested in us.

We’ve got actually about 200 to 250 customers and they range … About half of them are in the architecture engineering construction space to manufacturing customers as well, but also customers like electronic arts and software development, EA, many of you may be familiar with or Department of Justice in the US and how they’re using cloud.

There’s some really interesting things that our customers were doing. I hope to just touch on that briefly at the end of the session here as well.

Enrico: Sounds great. If I look at on your website, your position is quite unique actually. You propose what you call a global cloud file system. Can you help us to understand better what it is and how it works?

David: Sure. Enrico, that is something we get a lot from our customers or from people we talk to when we’re just beginning to tell them about this as what is this, global file system, this global cloud file system that we talk about. It’s really a system for storing your application data that spans the globe. We’ll give your users no matter where they are, if they’re in Singapore, if they’re in New York, they’re in London, the same fast consistent access to files. They’ll be the same files.

There’s a couple of unique things that it does, but it essentially let users in different offices work together like they’re in the same room even on the largest most complex files or technical applications like CAD or manufacturing applications similar to CAD that they may be using.

That’s really what it is. If you like, I can just talk briefly about how it works. There’s a lot under the covers. More than I can cover in five minutes, but the file system basically looks and acts like an enterprise filer. It looks like a Windows file share or it’s like a NetApp file or two to the applications and the users, but what’s different is that it’s really what we describe as a [inaudible 00:03:49] in the sky.

The way it works is essentially you deploy [inaudible 00:03:55] controls either virtual or physical at each site. You can even put a virtual controller in the cloud and Amazon to create sort of a virtual office if you will. It creates a global name space, so they all see the same C drive from anywhere. What it does is it keeps a master copy of the data in the cloud and caches the most frequently used data at each site.

The other thing we do and that wouldn’t be enough by itself, because it’s still the [inaudible 00:04:28] to share and open files. If someone has a file open, how do you know that you can open it or not. We do a couple of things. One is we have file locking, global file locking and element locking. The lock actually gets passed between sites very quickly so that if you have a file open in Singapore and I try to open it in New York, I’ll get a message saying the file is only available as read-only. We can do that down to the sub file level as well and that’s very important when you’re dealing with, say, Excel spreadsheets or CAD applications.

Enrico: From a technical point of view, it sounds like a great idea, but on the other end … End-user specially in Europe are always concerned about cloud storage from the security point of view. Potential data leaks, risk to lose control and data in the hands for end service providers. What do you do to address all these potential concerns and what kind of feature are available to secure and protect data?

David: That’s a great question Enrico. The thing with cloud storage is you need robust security in several places, but both on the data as it rest on the cloud and when it’s on the move. The entire time it’s in transit, you want it to be secure. We do a couple of things. We encrypt the data at rest into our controllers and in the cloud. We secure it in flight when it’s moving between controllers in the cloud and we have …

As well, we have key management and standards based authentication for file access, but we also … For example, the Department of Justice is a customer. We have FIPS 140-2 certification and AES 256 bit encryption as well. It’s not just on our solution, it actually means from the cloud, so Amazon has all of that or Google or your cloud of choice all the way down to the Panzura clients.

I just think it’s a fear of cloud. I think there’s a misperception about security. Amazon has about 90 data centers and I read three or four, five million servers, no one really knows. For certain, their security protocols are extremely good, maybe better than many banks. Even though you still have to worry about application security, that’s something you have to worry about no matter where your data is. Amazon I think or a cloud solution could take some of that worry away in many cases.

Enrico: Yeah, I see. The [numerous 00:07:06] cases that I can imagine from this kind of product is quite large, but instead of talking about a specific use case, I would like to know if your end-user see common benefits by adopting Panzura. For example, if he does a [visible park 00:07:25] from the transformation of the infrastructure or if you see some kind of savings in the infrastructure by adopting it.

David: Sure. I’ll come up on two benefits that we think are common across many of our users. The first is I mentioned earlier, collaboration. What do I mean by collaboration? You can say, well, that’s Box or Dropbox or Yammer or any one of a number of solutions. Those are collaboration applications and platforms. We allow people to collaborate on the apps they have now where they may actually really need to.

For example, this is just one customer, a company called Milwaukee Tool, but if you walk into any hardware store, many of the tools you might see on the shelf, they manufacture either for consumers or professionals, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and so forth to use their tools. They have people in Wisconsin and China. I’m giving this as an example because it’s very, very common for our customers to have this problem.

It takes 40 minutes for them to open a fairly simple CAD file from China that’s stored in Wisconsin. Of course, you want them to have the same file and you don’t want different versions of a CAD file floating around for products. That can lead to all kinds of manufacturing problems, but they can’t afford to wait 40 minutes for a file to open. We take that down to eight seconds and that’s the nature of our infrastructure and the way we handle file locking and metadata, but essentially, the users in China no longer have to wait.

They have the same problem with video files and other large files. It have to do with both file size and the number of file operations or the chattiness of the application itself, but we have other customers like EA that are able to speed up game development across the 35 or 40 sites they have in similar ways just by being able to really facilitate the sharing and collaborating in those big, big files they deal with.

On top of that, they really get IT simplification and consolidation and this was something I mentioned earlier, but because you’re actually now bringing everything to one centralized cloud storage and just distributing the hot data to the edge, you have what amounts to a collapsed single tiered storage with integrated backup and DR because Amazon handles that.

For three cents a gigabyte, this is what you pay Amazon, you get the backup and DR. You’ve eliminated that. We have many, many customers have eliminated tape backup. We had a customer tell us the bill for tape was as much as their monthly bill for Amazon. Just that alone cut their cost significantly.

Enrico: David, it sounds really, really interesting. How can our listeners reach you and Panzura?

David: Our website is Panzura P-A-N-Z-U-R-A .com. We’re Panzura Storage on Twitter, so you can find us there as well. Definitely come check us up.

Enrico: Thank you very much for your time.

David: All right. Thank you Enrico.

Enrico: Bye.

David: Bye-bye.