Industry Manufacturing
Cloud Storage  


Milwaukee Tool was experiencing explosive growth, with manufacturing taking place in the USA and Asia, and service centers across the USA. Their IT infrastructure could no longer support the growth of the business, with file access times significantly impacting productivity.


CloudFS allowed Milwaukee Tool to create a global organization that virtually works in the same room, using AWS as their cloud storage, and giving every user the same performant file experience.

Since 1924, Milwaukee Tool has designed and manufactured solutions that deliver increased productivity and unmatched durability in professional construction.

They'd built up NetApp-based IT infrastructure that met their needs for security but as they expanded across the USA and then across the globe, that same infrastructure was getting in the way of their own productivity.

It had served them well when teams were local, but with 1,000-plus employees across the United States and Asia, it was time to look at other options.

We set out to understand how we could provide that reliable fast access and create a single source of truth for users around the globe. We know that the maturation of cloud has created this innovation inflexion point where new opportunities can be leveraged to solve global issues like this.

- Eric Hanson, VP Information Technology and Business Optimization

Distance was seriously hampering productivity

Milwaukee Tool had built up an exceptional team, but unlocking the full market-leading potential of that team was proving challenging.

They just couldn't work together in a way that would let them leverage their collective brain power, and design skills, to create and refine products at the speed they wanted.

When a team in Wisconsin wanted to hand a file off to their counterparts in Asia, so they could keep working on it, they simply couldn't.

Transmitting large video files between locations, as the team does while they're testing and developing new products, was so slow that it was faster to send a DVD by express mail.

Complex applications posed additional challenges

Dassault SolidWorks and Siemens NX (Unigraphics)  – the applications used by Milwaukee Tool to design and manufacture products – are among the most latency-affected on the planet.

The multiple dependences of the files they generate mean that opening a file involves multiple, often thousands, of individual file commands.

Those are largely invisible to the user if the file is stored locally, but become unworkably slow if the file is sitting in centralized storage and the user is some distance away. That's because every single one of those file commands has to transmit from the user, to the file storage, and back again.

Milwaukee's CAD files were taking 40 minutes or more to open, and that's so slow that there was no chance that file locking could protect accidental overwriting by another user. As a result, the IT team was spending frustrating time resolving file version conflicts.

We did a ranking session with the vendors that Gartner had recommended and by far Panzura came out best. As we rolled this out to the business and expanded this to Asia they were accessing the video that would take 30-40 minutes and now because it was cached locally, it would take seconds. They were just blown away. It was a game changer.

- Craig Mueller, IT Director

CloudFS allows the entire organization to virtually work in the same room

The implementation of Panzura's global file system CloudFS changed everything.

Not only could the company allow every user to work from a single data set stored in AWS, regardless of their location, files now behaved like they were stored locally, for everybody. That meant files that used to take more than 40 minutes to open and 6 to 7 hours to copy between locations, now opened and transmitted in just seconds.

Panzura's real time file locking also put an end to accidental overwrites and the file versions that used to cause the IT team so much frustration

The Panzura solution was really a game changer for us. Essentially what we’ve done is create a global organization that is now virtually working in the same room.

- Eric Hanson, VP Information Technology and Business Optimization

Storage costs have dropped from $1.15 per GB to less than 4c

Moving their CAD project and other file data from NetApp to Panzura has allowed Milwaukee Tool to reduce their effective storage cost from $1.15 per GB down to less than 4 cents per GB for all tiers of file storage, resulting in a total annual saving of over $40,000 per shelf.

It’s also allowed them to free up space on their NetApp storage for other applications and data.

Improved agility and speed to market

The Milwaukee team refers to Panzura as a game changer – one that's let them reduce their design and manufacturing time so they can get product to market faster.

Lastly, Panzura's data protection not only keeps the company's intellectual property safe, it also provides vital ransomware resilience as well as the ability to recover any file without resorting to restoring from a backup – something that lets the entire IT team sleep easier.

With Panzura, we’ve been able to realise a number of key benefits. For example, our speed to market. Being able to maintain an agile infrastructure and keep pace with the business as they’re developing new products.

- Craig Mueller, IT Director