Storage is essential for the enterprise: Data must be stored. Data must be retrieved. Data must be shared. Data must be secured. At the same time, storage must not consume the entirety of your IT budget. Fortunately, you can find effective solutions in the world of open source.

Outside of cost effectiveness, one of the biggest benefits of these solutions is the ability to modify them to perfectly fit your needs. You can make minor changes or even roll your own storage solution based on one of these tools.

If you want enterprise support and a “solution in a can” that will meet just about any enterprise storage need, you should turn to Red Hat or SUSE. Both Linux-based companies offer some of the most powerful enterprise-ready tools on the market. But if you’d rather get your hands dirty and craft something of your own–something that won’t demolish your budget–these five open source tools are a great place to start.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: ownCloud

ownCloud (Figure A) is on the rise, faster than any cloud-based storage system. It’s easy to use, it can be installed locally, and it offers desktop and mobile sync clients. The ownCloud solution is ideal for companies of all sizes that need a cloud storage solution for files, photos, contacts, and even a cloud-based calendar.

Figure A

ownCloud is a powerful tool, and the sync client allows you to keep multiple folders in sync with your desktop. One feature that should appeal to enterprise clients is the ability to recover accidentally deleted files. ownCloud offers a Community edition and an Enterprise edition. In addition to the long list of features found in the Community edition, the Enterprise edition offers LDAP/Active Directory support, Single Sign In, Encryption 2.0 support, and much more.

2: Pydio

Pydio (formerly AjaXplorer) allows you to master a universe of files with an amazingly simple interface (Figure B). With the Pydio Sync tool, you can determine how sync occurs between server and clients, enabling real-time, manual, or time-based synchronization. You can also determine whether users can sync an entire workspace or only subfolders within a workspace.

Figure B

File syncing can be paused to avoid data loss (should work need to be done on the server), and Pydio lets users share files internally and externally. In addition, it offers the ability to create public “mini-sites” for publishing lists of documents on the internet. It provides an outstanding plug-in system to extend your solution, as well.

3: Openfiler

Openfiler (Figure C) is a powerful network storage solution that offers file-based network attached storage (NAS) and block-based storage area networking (SAN) functionality in a single, cohesive framework. Because of its flexibility, Openfiler allows you to deploy either a SAN or NAS solution, both with a simple web-based interface.

Figure C

Believe it or not, this solution can be up and running in no time. The block-based storage has point-in-time snapshot support with scheduling as well as online volume size expanding. Openfiler features Windows domain controller support as well as built-in Samba support.

4: FreeNAS

FreeNAS (Figure D) is a rock solid open source NAS solution that delivers all the features your enterprise needs in a NAS solution. With this storage-built operating system, you’ll enjoy replication, data protection, encryption, snapshots, file sharing, and a powerful plug-in system… all in an easy-to-use web interface.

Figure D

FreeNas also includes a powerful reporting tool that keeps track of CPUs, disks, memory, network, partition, and system usage.

5: ProjectSend

ProjectSend (Figure E) is a bit different. Although it can (and does) serve as a storage solution for documents and files, its primary focus is enabling your company to share those documents/files with clients. Not only can you easily send documents and files to clients (without having to rely on a third-party solution), your clients can also upload files to you with ease. You can add individual clients and even create/manage client groups for more control.

Figure E

Uploaded files are given a title and description and can be easily searched using the built-in search function. ProjectSend also includes a powerful email template system, so you can create company-specific email for notifications like new file by user, new file by client, new client, new user, and password reset.

What’s worked for you?

There are many open source storage solutions available to fit enterprise needs. Whether you want to shell out the budget for big-time support and service, like you’ll find with SUSE, or you want to do it all in-house, open source has you covered.

Have you used any of the solutions discussed here? Share your thoughts and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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