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Panzura enables multi-cloud replication with CloudFS update

CloudFS customers can now replicate to a backup cloud instantly, enabling recovery in case of a cloud outage. New support for Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor expands VM features.

Panzura's latest update adds high availability to a customer's cloud storage environment, enabling continued uptime in case of outages or ransomware attacks, as well as remote, cross replication and automatic failover.

On Thursday, Panzura released Data Flex for CloudFS, the company's hybrid cloud file storage product, to general availability. The upgrade includes new features such as cloud mirroring for high data availability, compatibility with the Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor, and support for mixed network file sharing (NFS) and SMB protocols for storage environments.

"All of our competition charges money for remote replication -- a lot of money," said Glen Shok, vice president and CTO of Panzura. "We don't because we're bad at business," he joked.

The new cloud mirroring feature enables enterprise customers to use multiple clouds for varying tiers of storage access speed, alongside on-premises hardware for mission-critical workloads, according to Johnny Yu, a research manager at IDC. The continued availability of resources regardless of another cloud's status or connection is a valuable new feature for Panzura users, he said.

"Organizations are adopting multiple clouds," Yu said. "This is a backbone that will get [an enterprise] ready for that."

High availability, low downtime

The new cloud mirroring feature enables CloudFS users to route data for immediate and automatic backup to another S3-compatible object storage provider, be it a public cloud hyperscaler, a private cloud managed by the customer or both.

The feature will also enable replication among cloud storage for an automatic failover and admin-controlled failback should an outage at the primary storage provider occur.

The CloudFS software operates as a caching node at the edge in a customer's data center, capable of storing file changes and versions for failbacks without incurring additional ingress or egress fees from target clouds.

"It's a feature everybody wanted," Shok said. "Our cloud customers said we needed mirroring yesterday."

Replication across clouds became a hot-button topic following the outages at AWS data centers in late 2021, but Yu said the mirroring feature also has some usefulness as part of a disaster recovery strategy to help maintain business continuity.

"It's a starting point for dealing with outages in general," Yu said, noting that customers are less concerned about Google uptime than they are about cyber attacks.

You're never going to reach a point where you don't need another company handling your stuff.
Johnny YuResearch manager, IDC

A comprehensive multi-cloud strategy still requires a variety of components to address security, storage and access speeds for important applications, Yu said. The cloud mirroring feature will likely require other vendors and services to ensure uptime, he added.

"You're never going to reach a point where you don't need another company handling your stuff," Yu said.

The primary limitation for the feature won't come from Panzura's technology, but from financial constraints enterprises could face when buying storage across clouds or other devices, said Dave Raffo, senior analyst at Evaluator Group.

"The idea is if you get another AWS outage, you'll have a copy in Azure," he said. "The downside is you'll have to pay for both."

The availability of important files shared through a file system such as CloudFS, like computer-aided design documents or video clips, might still make the investment worthwhile.

"If you have data that you can't be without for a small amount of time, it's a good candidate for that," Raffo said. "The question is how much mission-critical data you'd have on Panzura."

Other features

Compatibility with Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor enables customers that primarily operate in Windows data centers to avoid VMware licensing fees and configuration changes to set up and run the CloudFS software. Hyper-V serves as the basis for other popular virtualization software and expands Panzura's potential compatibility list of VM environments, according to Shok.

The support for mixed protocols with NFS and SMB enables environments running both protocols to see all cloud storage resources through a single namespace with the full feature set of CloudFS. This feature is only rolling out to select customers upon request, Shok said.

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

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