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Panasas, Inc.
IndustryData Storage
Key people
Faye Pairman (CEO)
Elliot Carpenter (CFO)
Tom Shea (COO)
Jim Donovan (CMO)
Number of employees
114 (2019)

Panasas is a data storage company that creates network-attached storage for technical computing environments.


Panasas is a computer data storage product company and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. Panasas received seed funding from Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV) and others. The first Panasas products were shipped in 2004, the same year that Victor M. Perez became CEO.[1] Faye Pairman became CEO in 2011.[2]


Panasas developed an extension for managing parallel file access in the Network File System,[3] which was later integrated in Parallel NFS (pNFS), part of the NFS version 4.1 specification, published by the Internet Engineering Task Force as RFC 5661 in January 2010. pNFS described a way for the NFS protocol to process file requests to multiple servers or storage devices at once, instead of handling the requests serially.[4]

Panasas supports DirectFlow, NFS, Parallel NFS and Server Message Block (also known as CIFS) data access protocols to integrate into existing local area networks. Panasas blade servers manage metadata, serving data for DirectFlow, NFS and CIFS clients using 10 Gigabit Ethernet.[5] Panasas systems provide data storage and management for high-performance applications in the biosciences, energy, media and entertainment, manufacturing, government and research sectors.[6]


The ActiveStor product line is a scale-out NAS appliance that integrates hybrid storage hardware (hard drives and solid state drives), the PanFS parallel file system, its proprietary DirectFlow data access protocol, and the industry standard NFS and CIFS network protocols.[7]

ActiveStor Ultra[edit]

ActiveStor Ultra (introduced in November 2018) is the newest generation of the Panasas ActiveStor storage system and features a re-engineered, portable file system that delivers performance and reliability on suitably qualified, industry standard storage hardware platforms.[8]

Each ActiveStor Ultra has four storage nodes, and each node has six HDD drive slots and two SSD drive slots. Each node supports six to eight HDDs or zero to two SSDs. Each ActiveStor Ultra can deliver 6-7.5 GB/s per 4U enclosure, depending on the configuration. With a minimum configuration of three ActiveStor Ultra enclosures, the total bandwidth performance is expected to be between 18-22 GB/s. [9]

ActiveStor Ultra is designed for extreme performance and extreme scalability configurations and supports flexible networking options.[10] The ActiveStor Ultra/PanFS 8 solution is aimed at HPC shops, as well as enterprises who need the kind of performance that parallel file systems can afford. For enterprise customers especially, the approach is intended to give them the kind of simplicity and low TCO that they demand. [11]

ActiveStor 20 (now ActiveStor Classic) was announced in August 2016 with increased capacity, using larger and faster disks.[12][13] In November 2017, Panasas released the ActiveStor Director 100[14] and the ActiveStor Hybrid 100 (now ActiveStor Prime), which disaggregated the Director Blade, the controller node of Panasas storage system, from the storage nodes.[15] In November 2018, Panasas introduced ActiveStor Ultra, which featured a completely re-engineered portable file system (PanFS® 8) running on industry standard hardware.[16]


Panasas created the PanFS clustered file system as single pool of storage under a global filename space to support multiple applications and workflows in a single storage system.[17] PanFS supports DirectFlow (pNFS), NFS and CIFS data access protocols simultaneously.[18] PanFS 7.0 added a FreeBSD operating foundation and a GUI that supports asynchronous push notification of system changes without user interaction.[19]

In November 2018, Panasas introduced PanFS 8, an intelligent, POSIX compliant parallel file system that incorporates the latest software innovations and runs on Linux to enable easy portability to new industry standard hardware. PanFS 8 includes the newly re-engineered Storage Node software stack for use on the new ActiveStor Ultra family of Storage Nodes. [20]

PanFS is now theoretically portable across a much wider array of hardware, opening up the possibility of hosting the file system on third-party storage platforms. The file system’s portability also offers Panasas the flexibility to use different hardware suppliers for future versions of its own ActiveStor hardware – for both for the Director and storage modules. That has the advantage of keeping costs down, while potentially offering even more options for customers. PanFS 8 is optimized to match the object access and update patterns common in mixed workloads. [21][22]


DirectFlow is a parallel data access protocol designed by Panasas for ActiveStor. DirectFlow avoids protocol I/O bottlenecks by accessing Panasas storage directly and in parallel.[23] DirectFlow was originally supported on Linux, and expanded in April 2016 to support Apple's MacOS.[24]


  1. ^ "Panasas Plots New Path". Byte and Switch. August 10, 2004. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  2. ^ "Faye Pairman, President and CEO, Panasas, Inc". HPCWire. 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  3. ^ Mary Jander (May 26, 2007). "Panasas Leads Charge to Parallel NFS". Network Computing. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  4. ^ S. Shepler, M. Eisler, and D. Noveck, editors (January 2010). Network File System (NFS) Version 4 Minor Version 1 Protocol. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC5661. RFC 5661. Retrieved June 4, 2014.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Panasas ActiveStor 14 Parallel Storage". Product web page. Panasa. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  6. ^ "Scale-Out NAS Storage Vendor | Panasas". Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  7. ^ "Panasas Corporate Overview" (PDF). Panasas. September 14, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "Panasas: ActiveStor Ultra Featuring PanFS 8". StorageNewsletter. 2018-11-13. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  9. ^ "New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC". HPCwire. 2018-11-13. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  10. ^ "New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC". HPCwire. 2018-11-13. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  11. ^ "Panasas Unveils Next-Generation ActiveStor, PanFS | TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  12. ^ "Click your heels Dorothy, ... We're not in gen-7 Panasas any more; 8th generation scale-out box lands - The". Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  13. ^ Michael Feldman (August 2, 2016). "Panasas Upgrades ActiveStor Line with Bigger, Faster Drives". Top 500. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Changing HPC Workloads Mean Tighter Storage Stacks for Panasas". 2018-03-13.
  16. ^ "Panasas ActiveStor chases Lustre users with portable PanFS". SearchStorage. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  17. ^ "New Multi-Petabyte, Scale-Out NAS". Storage Newsletter. 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  18. ^ "PanFS". Panasas. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  19. ^ "Panasas storage, director blades split into separate devices". SearchStorage. Retrieved 2017-12-12.
  20. ^ "Panasas Product Datasheet" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Panasas Unveils Next-Generation ActiveStor, PanFS | TOP500 Supercomputer Sites". Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  22. ^ "The New Requirements of Mainstream HPC Storage – Panasas ActiveStor Briefing Note". - The Home of Storage Switzerland. 2018-11-13. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  23. ^ "DirectFlow". Panasas. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  24. ^ "Panasas brings DirectFlow NAS to Mac platform". Post Magazine. 2016-04-12. Retrieved 2017-01-19.

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