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AEC Firms Turn to Panzura for File Locking Technology to Enable Cross-Site Collaboration
Revisiting the subject of collaboration in the AEC industry, we recently took a look at the computer data storage company Panzura. While the company serves a variety of industries and essentially stumbled onto the AEC market, the company has since devoted itself to developing that segment of its customer base and has tailored its solution for CAD and BIM users over the last few years. Speaking with Barry Phillips, Panzura's Marketing and Product Manager, we got an overview of what the company has to offer AEC customers as well as an explanation of how Panzura's collaboration solution differs from others.

Phillips began by noting that collaboration is a very loosely defined term at the moment, and that many companies are selling applications that facilitate collaboration. Panzura is different in that it does not offer its own app but rather provides the capability and underlying infrastructure to collaborate within a design application such as Revit from different physical sites. Central to this capability is Panzura's file locking technology, which controls the chaos, data collisions, and corruption that would occur from giving users unrestricted access to files at any location. According to Phillips, "We essentially just look like a windows file server, [and] we use the cloud as a data distribution mechanism but our intellectual property is in the ability to lock the files at a location."


Panzura's file locking strategy allowed one AEC client to go from spending 22 minutes waiting for a CAD file to open to mere seconds. The file was centralized in Syracuse and opened in San Diego, and originally there were around 16,000 file operations that had to happen and each one of those file operations had to go back and forth from Syracuse to San Diego. By having the file stored and locked on the cloud, that time goes to eight seconds. According to Phillips, "what we essentially sell are called cloud controllers, and [you can] just think of that as a cache." He went on to explain that Panzura's file locking technology is much cheaper than other collaboration strategies because the user is "mainly just paying for cloud space."

Panzura's technology is an ideal fit for the AEC market, but as mentioned earlier, Panzura more or less stumbled onto the AEC marketplace. AEC companies were first to come to them, but they quickly realized the potential of this new customer base and began marketing to them. Phillips also pointed to the increasing adoption of building information modeling as an impetus for their growing number of AEC customers as BIM requires accessibility to vast amounts of data from multiple locations to be employed effectively as a design and operations strategy. Looking forward, Phillips said that soon "cloud providers will replace all on premise storage [and] that’s made possible because of flash caches and global file locking across all of your work and all of your sites." Returning to the subject of price, he also predicted that costs would only go down as both Amazon and Google have announced cloud storage prices will drop 65% percent next year and then by 50% every year after that.
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Published 2014-11-17 00:00:00