Briefing Note: Panzura SkyBridge solves VDI Storage Challenge

In a recent article, Storage Switzerland discussed the storage challenges associated with Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). But instead of focusing on the typical performance challenges associated with VDI, like boot storms and data efficiency, the article focused on the challenge of providing file services to these users. Overcoming this challenge is especially important for organizations that decide to deploy DaaS.

To help solve this problem, Panzura recently announced a new product called SkyBridge. Panzura is well known for its cloud storage solution that distributes data across an enterprise leveraging the cloud as the back end interconnect. The Panzura cloud controller creates a cloud aware global file system that manages data positioning, file locking which eliminates versioning altogether by using global file locking to have a single authoritative version of each file.

SkyBridge’s design is well-suited for the virtual desktop use case and allows IT administrators to more easily integrate the two deployment models. The solution creates a complete corporate site in the cloud and makes data assets available as appropriate in the corporate data center to one or multiple cloud sites as needed. But SkyBridge provides a global file locking and version control capability so that all the organizations data is in sync, all the time.

SkyBridge also enables the deployment of the DaaS service as close to the users as possible, taking full advantage of DaaS’ latency reduction. For example, if a US company needs to set up an office in London, a cloud provider with a local presence in London can be selected to eliminate a long haul connection to a data center an ocean away. DaaS can be implemented at that provider and then a SkyBridge can be leveraged to make sure that the London offices have access to its and the entire organization’s files without having to drill through a corporate VPN. And SkyBridge makes sure that the file locking and versioning is consistent across the enterprise.

How SkyBridge Works

SkyBridge is installed simply. First the administrator selects the cloud zone. For example, if Amazon is the preferred provider any of 12 regions can be selected. Then the data center is securely connected to the cloud. The administrator provides a range of IP addresses to SkyBridge, and it configures and initializes the connection between the cloud and corporate data center. Once the connection between the data center and the cloud is established, it behaves similar to a Layer 2 VPN connection. Essentially the cloud looks like it’s part of the data center’s infrastructure. No complex routing configuration is required.

Once the data center is connected to the cloud SkyBridge then automatically deploys a virtual Panzura cloud controller in the selected region and connects it to the data center’s existing Panzura Global File System. The next step is to provision VDI components. For example with Citrix, SkyBridge automatically sets up Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp, Citrix ShareFile Storage Zone Controllers for mobile file access, as well as all relevant Windows Server and Microsoft SQL components. Finally, SkyBridge helps configure access control by integrating with existing Active Directory instances to authenticate users. All of these steps are automated and are triggered with a single click.

StorageSwiss Take

Panzura has been a leader in optimizing the cloud for the business use for years. They’ve been successful by leveraging the cloud for what it is good at; interconnectivity and minimizing its challenges like latency. With SkyBridge Panzura builds on its success to take a new step forward, one that could be very beneficial for organizations looking to drive down the cost of virtual desktop projects while keeping users, especially remote users, satisfied. We’re impressed with its potential to end the DaaS vs. VDI debate and allow IT professionals to get the most out of both strategies.

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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