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Panzura to offer free and premium data management features

Panzura Data Services features are now part of CloudFS, providing free data management tools to all customers. Premium features are available to purchase on a per-user basis.

Panzura split its Panzura Data Services product into free and paid capabilities on a per-user license.

The division enables new features for all CloudFS users and expands the available tools for customers to license on a per-user basis rather than on total purchased storage capacity.

Panzura Data Services (PDS), the company's SaaS data management platform, now includes a handful of features for all CloudFS users, the company's hybrid cloud file storage product. The list includes network monitoring, health reports and customizable alerts. Existing CloudFS users automatically gain access to this basic, free tier.

Users of the paid tiers can add new capabilities to PDS, including data search, audit and audit retention features within the CloudFS ecosystem. Each feature is licensed separately, enabling Panzura customers to pick and choose which features they want to add.

"The idea is to get people to start using the services and start licensing more as they go along," said Dave Raffo, a senior analyst at Evaluator Group. "People are going to have to do their homework and figure out what their price will be. … [Panzura has] to be careful. A lot of customers, they don't want to pay extra."

Add-on arms race

PDS debuted last year and was built on the company's prior VisionAI software before it was rebranded and improved, according to Edward Peters, chief innovation officer at Panzura.

[Panzura has] to be careful. A lot of customers, they don't want to pay extra.
Dave RaffoSenior Analyst, Evaluator Group

"Instead of having a separate product, we could take that tool and reshape it to support the cloud users directly," he said.

Peters said the company plans to expand PDS in the coming year with new licensed features and more automated capabilities.

CloudFS, Panzura's flagship product, creates a single, global file namespace across an organization's hybrid cloud environment. Users can interact with any file on their network of public and private clouds or on-premises appliances as if it was available locally.

These new features, Raffo noted, help distinguish Panzura from the file storage vendors it competes with, such as Nasuni and Ctera.

Ray Lucchesi, president of Silverton Consulting, said the piecemeal sales of features per user is becoming more common for storage companies than per-capacity charges.

"A lot of the big companies have gone to separate tiers and bundling," Lucchesi said. "The new features are more targeted to file services administrators. It makes sense to bill them on a user basis."

Lucchesi said the search and audit features are typically used by administrators infrequently, such as for compliance or litigation requests, rather than ongoing business. Tying the price to the number of users rather than storage capacity makes the features more tempting to tack onto a Panzura purchase, he said.

"Those kinds of purposes are special, one-off type of events," he said. "It makes sense to have it on a per-user basis."

Feature creep

The basic tier enables access to Pulse, Panzura's monitoring and reporting software for the user's CloudFS network. The free tier also provides access to Alert and Quota. Alert creates scheduled reports and customized alerts regarding the metrics Pulse monitors, while Quota enables IT administrators to create customized storage limits for users and user groups.

The three individually licensed paid tiers introduce additional capabilities. Total cost is based on the number of users and is tiered to support the number of concurrent users, according to Peters.

Search provides global search and data analysis across Panzura CloudFS and other NFS or SMB file shares. The feature ingests file metadata and directories, and then indexes them into a searchable database. Search is also capable of combing through NetApp and EMC Isilon appliances.

Audit tracks file logs and user actions taken on an individual file, including read, write, delete, more or permission updates. Audit Retention keeps the logs for up to 180 days, double the amount previously offered by PDS. Additional Audit Retention licenses can be purchased for longer holds.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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