New Panzura CEO Patrick Harr looks to scale up business beyond collaboration

Panzura’s new CEO talks about where he sees the company being able to ramp up, and reaffirms their commitment to channel partners.

Patrick Harr Panzura 300

Panzura CEO Patrick Harr

Campbell CA-based cloud storage startup Panzura recently appointed former HP and VMware exec Patrick Harr as CEO, following the ouster of original CEO Randy Chou earlier this year. At that time and since, Panzura has said a change was necessary to move to the next stage of growth. Harr defined that next stage as broadening Panzura’s markets, particularly into the cloud NAS space. While most of Panzura’s sales have gone though channel partners in the past, Harr also stressed his commitment to the partner-first model.

Panzura started out as a cloud storage gateway player and as that market grew increasingly crowded, began to emphasize the value of their solution for collaboration, including the VDI market, where they developed a solid foothold. Panzura’s global element locking technology allows multiple users at multiple sites to collaborate effectively. Harr stressed, however, that Panzura has the ability to expand well beyond that.

“We have had strong success in collaboration with mid-size to larger companies, and collaboration is certainly our base, but we are also seeing strong use cases for what we can do in other areas,” he said.

That growth is necessary for Panzura to scale, he stated.

“That’s what the company is focused on now, scale,” Harr said. “Randy [Chou] built the company to a very strong base, but as with all startups, there’s a different scale point where the company needs to expand significantly.”

Past success there is why he was brought in, Harr said.

“I have a unique combination of skills and experience,” he said. “I’ve worked multiple startups and more recently focused on scale, with VMware and Hewlett-Packard. At HP I grew the Americas Cloud business 19x over a four year period. So successfully executing scale is a dimension I bring to the table.”

“I see a very large opportunity for Panzura in cloud NAS, using it as a primary storage interface,” Harr stated. “Through vertical integration in the cloud rather than scale-out on-prem, we can reduce costs by 4-5x, completely eliminating things like dedupe boxes, snapshots , WAN optimization, and MPLS. One of our customers, a large online ticketing provider, replaced all their NetApps this way in a cloud-first approach. The U.S. Department of Justice uses us for cloud NAS in over 200 locations.”

A second major new growth area is around software development.

“We are used increasingly in the dev/ops environment.” Harr said. “Companies like Electronic Arts use us for global software development, so they can move files around globally without sacrificing speed and latency. We cache things locally and use the cloud as a backup. We see many opportunities like this in our pipeline.”

Happ also said Panzura can do better on the more mundane side of the business.

“We are well suited for backup and archiving, to handle cold data,” he said.

Harr said that his philosophy emphasizes the importance of taking complex things and making them simple.

“We are cloud-first, an advocate of moving from a traditional on-prem scale-out model, but to do this, you have to have a simple product approach,” he said. “You can’t put a square peg in a round hole. As a cloud-first company, we have that strong bridge to move customers without the heavy lifting. A cloud first strategy has to be dead simple stupid. It can’t involve a lot of rearchitecting and transforming skill sets.”

Harr also stressed that he is completely channel-committed.

“We took a partner-first approach at HP, VMware and my startups,” he said.

“Our focus is on high-value partners. The very strong movement into the cloud for the most part has produced disintermediation with the channel. Panzura, on the other hand, is that two-way bridge to the cloud, that provides very high value for partners, and allows them to work hand in hand with customers so they don’t leave and move to the cloud without them.

“My DNA is all about partners,” Harr concluded. “With Panzura, they can participate in the growth of the cloud and not be disintermediated.”