Q&A: Peer Software Explores Latest Features and Benefits in PeerGFS 5.0, and Solving Storage Challenges

Q&A: Peer Software Explores Latest Features and Benefits in PeerGFS 5.0, and Solving Storage Challenges

May 10, 2022 Off By Hoofer

Peer Software helps clients meet daily challenges through their global file service that allows them to choose the optimal storage platform for each unique requirement at their edge, data center, or cloud environments without worrying about vendor lock-in or barriers that prevent data interoperability.

The company has announced a new version of its PeerGFS offering, version 5.0.  To find out more, we reached out to industry expert Jimmy Tam, the CEO of Peer Software

CloudCow:  Before we dive in, can you give a quick overview of the company? 

Jimmy Tam:  Peer Software is an enterprise software company serving enterprise customers globally since 1993. Through our global file service, storage observability and analytics solutions, Peer helps enterprises meet these challenges across edge, data center, and cloud environments. We offer 3 solutions: 

  • PeerGFS to enable customers to create a distributed file system for multi-site, multi-vendor, and multi-cloud environments.
  • PeerSync Migration to enable efficient file migrations from legacy storage systems to new storage systems with minimal disruptions during cutover.
  • PeerFSA to enable file system analytics.

CloudCow:  Peer Software has been working with enterprise customers to simplify file management and orchestration for more than twenty-five years. How has the company’s mission shifted over the last several years?

Tam:  Our company’s original focus to enable customers to create a simple to use yet powerful distributed file system has remained at the core of our company since inception. But whereas we focused only on Windows file systems in the early years, we have steadily grown to integrate with all the leading large NAS storage vendors and public cloud providers to give customers more flexibility and choice in their storage platforms to meet the specific demands of each workload, office, and data center without worrying about vendor lock-in and without creating data silos.With the exponential growth of unstructured data, we have also developed and provided solutions to our customers to give them more insight to storage system telemetry and trends in their file system activity so that they can make better business decisions based on information for how their systems are being used and forecasting future growth of data.

CloudCow:  Tell us about the new features in PeerGFS 5.0.

Tam:  One of the main benefits of a distributed file system is that it improves file access performance by distributing replicas of data across the distributed environment. But with the exponential growth of unstructured data, cost concerns of unfettered storage growth have dramatically risen. So while IT administrators want to reap the benefits of a distributed file system, the additional storage cost burden of fully replicated data copies at each site can strain budgets. 

With PeerGFS v5.0, we introduce a technology called Dynamic Storage Utilization (DSU) that enables IT administrators to set policies of what data and how much gets replicated and cached at each remote branch office site. This reduces the storage footprint at the edge while still providing fast local read and write access to the most frequently utilized files. For example, a subset of data stored on a NAS system (e.g. NetApp Data ONTAP, Dell EMC Isilon, or Nutanix Files) at a companies’ main data center can be replicated and cached onto small Windows file servers at branch office sites.

CloudCow:  What are some of the storage challenges caused by exponential growth of unstructured data?

Tam:  While storage systems have remarkably kept pace with storing the vast amounts of data being created, cost concerns of storing this data is one of the main concerns for all enterprises. Treating all data the same and storing it on the most highly performing (and costly) systems is not efficient. Increased analysis of the data is required to make sure that each workload is placed on the most appropriate system based on a thorough understanding of cost and benefits.

CloudCow:  How does Peer increase productivity for distributed project teams? 

Tam:  By having data replicas across a distributed storage environment, each team member has faster file access by connecting to the nearest storage system containing their project data. In addition, PeerGFS ensures continuous availability of data for end-users across the Active-Active systems through automatic failover and failback processes if any one system is unavailable.

CloudCow:  What are the benefits of PeerGFS over other distributed file systems?

Tam:  The main benefit of PeerGFS over other distributed file systems is that we support a mix of different storage platforms across the distributed environment. All other distributed file systems require the same (homogeneous) storage system be used across the distributed environment. But for most enterprise companies, the reality is that they already have a mix of storage, usually with Windows file servers at branch offices and large NAS systems (e.g. NetApp, DellEMC Isilon, Nutanix Files) at the large offices and data centers. So whereas other distributed file systems would require these legacy systems to be replaced with a new homogeneous storage ecosystem, PeerGFS layers on top of existing investments in mixed storage. The additional benefit is that PeerGFS customers are not locked into any single storage platform, giving them the ultimate flexibility to choose the right storage system for each location.

Moreover, whereas most other modern distributed or global file systems are “cloud first” systems requiring corporate data to be stored in the cloud, PeerGFS is “cloud optional”. Companies using PeerGFS can be wholly on-premises, completely in the cloud, or have a hybrid cloud approach to their storage infrastructure.

CloudCow:  Where does your company go from here? 

Tam:  For PeerGFS, the main goal is to continue to expand our growing list of supported storage platforms to give our customers even more freedom and flexibility in their storage platform choices. Additionally, Peer will continue pushing more into the realm of Storage Observability and Analytics to give our customers more rich detail and insights into file system telemetry as well as file activity trends to provide system and infrastructure health, storage trending analysis, file access audit trails, and increased monitoring and alerting for potentially malicious and suspicious file events (e.g. ransomware and malware).