Panzura introduces SkyBridge cloud VDI optimization solution

SkyBridge adapts Panzura’s technology which enables cross-site collaboration between controllers in the cloud, to make cloud VDI much more effective.

Panzura logo 500Campbell CA-based Panzura has announced SkyBridge, a new solution which adapts the company’s technology to overcome the challenges to cloud VDI and application virtualization for Citrix.

Panzura is often seen as a cloud storage gateway vendor, but that doesn’t really capture what their technology does, said Barry Phillips, Panzura’s Chief Marketing Officer, who also has responsibility for product management.

“People classify us as a gateway vendor because we have a storage device and we put data up in the cloud,” Phillips said. “We are different, however, because people buy us for their hot data. What we enable is cross-site collaboration between controllers. Think of us as a big Windows file system in the sky. We separate metadata from the file data, and send it to every single controller, so each knows about every single file in the system, which makes every file seem local. We have file locking across all these sites, and it’s the same as the file system in the data centre, which helps with compression and dedupe, and reduces latency. Panzura lets you use the cloud for all your storage, both public and private, in this way, and caches all the data that’s being used.”

SkyBridge adapts this technology to address the specific problem of VDI in the cloud, which has been hard and expensive to configure.

“SkyBridge is in line with what Panzura does, and what our intellectual property is,” said Rich Weber, Panzura’s Chief Strategy Officer and Acting Vice President of Engineering. “We have effectively connected the compute infrastructure to create distributed VDI farms to bring the cloud close to where the user is, in a simplified and easy manner. As each location has the exact same file system, what SkyBridge does is create an Amazon machine instance, a virtual controller up to the cloud, which automatically launches the VDI instances with a single mouse click, using Amazon cloud formation templates which allow us to automate a lot of this. The result makes it feel like the cloud data centre is a part of your local data centre, which brings VDI closer to the user, strengthening the connection and greatly improving performance.”

While SkyBridge is specifically designed for VDI, Weber said it has broader potential use cases.

“It can run any application, like high performance computing, or anti-virus, where you don’t want to impact the performance of the local office,” he said. “It also doesn’t require cloud or security expertise to run. Just a click makes the cloud compute indistinguishable from the local resources.”

Panzura sells mainly – Phillips estimated 90 per cent – through channel partners.

“We have been very vertically focused, particularly on architecture, engineering and construction, and use a lot of the Autodesk channel,” Phillips said. “It’s because of our file locking capability, which is very useful for ‘chatty’ applications. Autocad is one of these. It is an app from Autodesk, with 15,000 sequential file operations that have to happen. Our file locking greatly lowers latency and reduces file open time from 22 minutes to 8 seconds. That’s half our customer base. The other half is people who want to leverage the economics of cloud storage. Here, EMC’s channel has been important, particularly around their Atmos object storage private cloud.”

While Panzura expects these channels to show interest in SkyBridge, they also expect a couple of massive new ones to open up.

“Citrix has a huge partner program and a separate set of partners with cloud VDI who we can start to work with,” Phillips said. “In addition, Amazon partners can go in and package up these solutions. It would be leading with VDI, but it lets any app run in Amazon the same way it would run behind the firewall.”

Out of the gate, SkyBridge will support Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop running in Amazon Web Services. Citrix was the obvious place to start, given their large market share in the space, and also that, unlike VMware, Citrix is already set up to work with cloud storage and cloud compute within Amazon, which is required for SkyBridge to work.

“We will be adding in additional cloud providers and VDI solutions as we expand this,” Phillips said.