A Case for Data and Machine Collaboration in the Cloud
How the Panzura-Frame partnership saved C&S Companies from lost productivity

For nearly 50 years, C&S Companies has provided engineering, architecture and construction services for government clients and private businesses nationwide. A willingness to evolve with the times and be an early adopter of new technology has ensured the long term success of C&S.

For example, C&S was among the first companies in 2005 to consolidate and centralize data that had lived on individual servers in multiple offices around the country. Today, C&S is a pioneer in accelerated global, real-time collaboration for virtual workspaces by taking advantage of a new partnership between Panzura (the leader in unstructured data management in the cloud) and Frame (the secure cloud workspace platform).

But prior to using the Panzura-Frame solution, C&S’s centralized data system was in trouble. It had run its course and was becoming problematic.

“We spent a lot of money on the best WAN system money could buy and it worked well for us, until it didn’t anymore,” said Eric Quinn, vice president of IT at C&S. “Our centralized architecture eventually led to poor performance and WAN optimization did not help.”

C&S employees didn’t have any trouble at the Syracuse, New York headquarters where it only took one minute to open and sync a file with the centralized data store. But it was a different story for the hundreds of people working in a dozen remote offices. It took eight minutes to access a file in San Diego and the wait was nearly a half hour in Orlando.

“The long wait was killing productivity and morale,” Quinn said at a recent Autodesk University event. “We were at risk of losing our competitive advantage.”

The problem was with the location of the metadata at the Syracuse, New York headquarters. The lag time to access the metadata — and the thousands of locking mechanisms — meant distant offices had inordinate wait times compared to the people in Syracuse where the server was just down the hall.

“Panzura and Frame offered the solution we needed. It cached everything locally, including the metadata,” Quinn said. “Now all of our data is 100 percent in the cloud and gives everyone a real-time, local experience no matter what office they are in.”

How does the Panzura and Frame partnership work? Panzura is cloud storage while Frame streams applications from the cloud.

“This is a natural connection,” said Greg Wesner, AEC/BIM specialist for Panzura. “We spin up our data to Frame’s virtual desktops in the cloud and build a tunnel between them.”

For example, imagine using Photoshop in the cloud through Frame. Photoshop doesn't live on a personal computer. Instead, it lives on a virtual server in a public cloud, like AWS or Azure. The end user simply interacts with a video stream of the app. But when signing out of Frame, the virtual server vanishes. This begs the question: when saving a file, where does it go?

The data is stored by Panzura in the cloud. And by partnering with Frame, Panzura is able to sync data among many users so they work together on the same file anywhere in the world.

For C&S, this makes all the difference.

“Thanks to Panzura and Frame, we regained control over our storage infrastructure. We have all our data available in every single office and it costs me a lot less than having servers everywhere with people emailing files back and forth,” Quinn said. “We don’t have to hire an expert in Orlando when we have an expert in Cleveland. Everyone can see the same data and that makes our users happy.”