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Panzura cloud NAS gets performance jolt from NVMe

Panzura's enhancements to its cloud NAS include support for NVMe flash and increased capacity limit on VMware deployments. The cloud file system works with object storage.

You hear a lot of talk about NVM Express flash these days, now that technology is moving beyond performance-centric all-flash arrays. The latest version of Panzura Inc.'s Freedom hybrid cloud NAS platform includes NVMe flash support, along with expanded support for VMware virtual machine workloads in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds.

Panzura Freedom 7 incorporates NVMe flash for the NFS protocol in the Panzura cloud NAS appliance. The company also introduced the Freedom 5700, a new physical appliance to its Freedom Filers. Freedom appliances cache frequently accessed data and move other data off to public clouds.

Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said the NVMe support in Panzura's Freedom 7 is important to help increase the speed of data access.

"Organizations that deploy or use software-defined storage want speed in these new storage solutions," he said. "[NVMe] ties into the on-premises nature of Panzura. The on-site system can leverage NVMe so it can fully improve the overall performance of the cloud."

The Freedom 7 release also includes a new interface for its management software so customers can centrally manage unstructured data that resides in an on-premises Panzura cache device and in the public cloud. Panzura also overhauled the management software with additions such as support for programmable REST APIs and a global and customizable dashboard. Dashboard reports include health checks and alerts.

The Panzura Cloud File System can be deployed as a Freedom Filer appliance, as a virtual machine (VM) or as an in-cloud instance. With Freedom 7, the Panzura Cloud File System increased the performance ability in an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) and Microsoft Azure Windows Server Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) VM. It now supports 512 TB of memory in VMware deployments and AMI and VHD, up from 32 TB in previous Panzura cloud NAS deployments.

"We supported AMI and Microsoft Azure before, but it was limited to a specific scale size," Panzura CEO Patrick Harr said. "We expanded support for data and workload support. We also expanded support for dynamically scaling our virtual appliance so you can add more memory, CPU and flash."

'Anything faster is better'

Panzura customer Andy Knauf, head of information technology at architecture and engineering firm Mead & Hunt, said the NVMe support is probably overkill for him, but he likes the new management features.

"The interface is fantastic compared to the old one," Knauf said. "It's the same management layer, but in the Freedom 7, there are more tools. If we had a problem before, we were in the dark. It was hard to get to the issue."

Knauf said he is not sure if the NVMe option is something that the company applications will need.

"Once we get [Freedom 7 fully] implemented, we can see what the benefits are. Anything faster is better, but right now, our users are happy with what they have," he said.

Knauf has been a Panzura cloud NAS customer for more than three years and currently has Freedom 6 deployed. His company's data and applications are 100% in the cloud, except for its Microsoft SQL Server database. He said Mead & Hunt stores approximately 50 TB in public clouds.

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