Panasas: Improving Enterprise HPC with Hybrid Scale-Out NAS

Faye Pairman, CEO
Faced with the rapid growth of unstructured data, CIOs are fast adopting HPC technologies to meet requirements for high performance, capacity and scale. Realizing the importance of technical computing and high performance storage in driving business innovation, CIOs are increasingly turning to Panasas, whose hybrid scale-out NAS technology addresses the challenges associated with unstructured data growth by allowing lines of business to harness their data more efficiently to create value.

Panasas was founded in 1999 by Dr. Garth Gibson, a co-author of the seminal “Berkeley RAID paper”, and a man on a mission to bring a true next-generation scale-out NAS appliance to market. Today, more than 400 Panasas customers in over 50 countries experience the true performance and power of HPC. “We deliver HPC-level performance coupled with enterprise-grade reliability and manageability from a single hybrid, scale-out NAS solution,” says Geoffrey Noer, Vice President of Product Management at Panasas.

The Panasas flagship product ActiveStor® 16 enhances IT productivity by significantly reducing the number of storage administrators needed to manage enterprise data. “While other HPC storage technologies typically need a team of four to five storage administrators, Panasas storage only needs one,” claims Noer. The Panasas management interface offers ease of use through a single global namespace and non-disruptive scaling that adds nodes using automatic discovery and automatic load balancing. Another advantage of ActiveStor is that it helps clients achieve faster time to results. “Accelerating workflows allows customers to run a larger number of higher resolution studies, leading to developing better and more differentiated products in addition to obtaining improved business insight,” adds Noer. The hybrid scale-out architecture of ActiveStor combines high-capacity hard drives and flash drives. By leveraging the strengths of these two storage technologies, ActiveStor offers its users high mixed workload performance, with the power to access small files without interrupting large data flows.

Another key area of importance for any storage solution is data protection.
“We believe that it is essential for storage systems to become more reliable as they scale rather than less reliable as is normally the case,” says Noer. To make this a reality, Panasas uses triple-parity, per-file software RAID data protection that scales linearly with the size of the solution. Using different subsets of drives within the system to store each file greatly reduces the chance of a few drive failures affecting a file, thereby improving reliability at a system-wide level.

Panasas garners clients from a range of industries including Aerospace, Automotive, Energy, Financial Services, and Life Sciences companies; but unlike traditional vendors of enterprise HPC, the company also has demonstrated success in the media and entertainment industry. For instance, a Hollywood studio recently turned to Panasas for its video editing needs. The Pana¬sas solution allowed them to dramatically increase the number of artists working from a single storage system while at the same time editing at a higher resolution than they were able to previously. The re¬sult was a better quality product since the Panasas process allowed video editors to focus on the artistic aspects of the project instead of worrying about how to manage the technology.

Panasas ActiveStor fulfills the key requirements of enterprise-grade reliability and manageability while simultaneously delivering true HPC level performance in one solution

Going forward, the company aspires to continue on its path of innovation around flash and data management. “It all starts by listening to our customers as they give valuable insights into their present and future pain points,” says Noer. “It also means staying plugged into the latest hardware and software ecosystem roadmaps so that when a transformative technology like flash comes along, you can quickly and seamlessly provide its advantage to customers,” he concludes.


Sunnyvale, CA

Faye Pairman, CEO

Panasas leverages hybrid scale-out NAS for technical computing environments managing big data problems.