Enterprise needs are a different beast from those of SMBs. Few areas define this as clearly as storage. Instead of storing a few hundred gigabytes, you're looking at terabytes and maybe even petabytes. Failover, redundancy, security, backups—all essential when it comes to enterprise storage.
You might think the only viable solutions for such tasks are proprietary solutions. Fortunately, for businesses and those working within them, that assumption is incorrect. Open source has come a long way and now powers the backbone of enterprise computing—and that includes storage. Don't believe me? Take a look at the following 10 reasons why open source could be the right storage solution for your organization.
1: Rolling your own
The market is crowded with storage solutions, but few (if any) are likely to be a perfect fit for your needs. When you don't find the ideal solution on the market, what do you do? Settle for a solution that may not meet your requirements? No. You go open source and roll the perfect storage tool.
But don't think you have to start from scratch. Plenty of pieces are available and ready for you to modify and piece together, so that you can create something unique that is exactly what your company needs. It might not happen overnight, but when it's done, it will serve you well.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a company that's better suited to meet your enterprise storage needs than SUSE. This is especially true when you want that solution to be open source or the vendor to be a widespread supporter of open source. SUSE backs up its promise of supporting the communities that have helped make Linux what it is today. It also doesn't hurt that SUSE has some of the most impressive enterprise storage solutions on the planet.
Samba is the glue that can hold nearly every existing platform together. That is why so many heterogeneous storage appliances rely on it to bridge the gap between desktops, servers, and storage arrays. As of Samba 4.0, Active Directory integration is as seamless as it ever has been—so if your enterprise depends upon AD, Samba is ready to drop into that roll-your-own storage package and make life infinitely easier.
4: Cloud storage
These days, you can't speak of cloud without mentioning the likes of Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu. Why? Because Linux rules the cloud... and the chances of that changing are slim. You don't have to limit yourself to third-party cloud solutions like Amazon or Google. With open source, you can create your own in-house cloud storage with the likes of ownCloud and OpenStack.
If you want to know how some of the big dogs are handling massive storage (especially in the realm of databases), you need look no further than a scalable in-memory offering like NoSQL. With NoSQL, you can use commodity x86 hardware to create clusters that can be scaled by adding more machines. And a NoSQL database doesn't need a predefined schema (which requires a specific method for managing data).
The benefits of a NoSQL database solution perfectly fit the needs of enterprise computing: large volumes of structured, semi-structured, and/or unstructured data; frequent code pushes, object-oriented programming. Efficient, flexible, and inexpensive architecture.
6: Cost of entry and upkeep
When you go open source, you know you're going to save money. Even if you're rolling your own solution, you're an enterprise company, so you already have in-house programmers at your bidding—employees you're already paying. Once you get the solution up and running, you don't need to pay for third-party support, because no one knows the solution better than those who created it. Free software, in-house support—what more do you need to keep the cost of storage down?
I've mentioned this a number of times... but what exactly are we talking about? Most open source storage solutions suited for enterprise needs are scalable. When you need more power or space, you simply throw more hardware into the mix. Linux (and open source) clusters well. With commodity hardware on the cheap, you could wind up with a massive storage solution that costs far less than a mid-range proprietary solution. What's best, with an open source/Linux cluster, the addition of new hardware is non-disruptive, so business will continue on without a hitch.
Storage is crucial, and you don't need to be told by Company A what is best and how best to deploy your solution. What you do need is something that affords you the flexibility that only open source can bring. Because of the nature of open source, you can get Solution X up and running and then, if there's something about X you don't like, you can change it. Alter the code to fit your needs and redeploy. Simple.
9: Turnkey solutions
A site called TurnKey Linux offers open source Linux appliances that address many enterprise needs. Some of these appliances are focused on storage. Boot up a turnkey solution and you can have a full-blown, enterprise-ready Linux storage solution in a short amount of time. TurnKey Linux's storage-centric offerings include ownCloud, MongoDB, and File Server. It also offers development turnkey solutions that can aid in your quest to create an ideal open source enterprise storage solution.
10: Bleeding edge
One advantage open source has over proprietary solutions is agility. Open source development happens quickly, and enterprise-level businesses that want rapid development and deployment are best served by turning to open source solutions. Projects like OpenStack and Hadoop are evolving at blinding speeds and enabling enterprises to use open source solutions to create large-scale distributed data and storage platforms.
The right solution?
Enterprise business would have a hard time functioning these days without the help of open source. If you're considering migrating from your current large-scale storage solution, you'll be remiss if you don't dive into the world of open source. Within this flexible and cost-effective community of users and developers, you may find effective, reliable solutions at cost-effective rates you've never before placed on a ledger.
- The evolution of enterprise storage (ZDNet special feature)
- Executive's guide to the future of enterprise storage (free ebook)
- Marketing OpenStack's progress: Now "it actually works"
- Transitioning from Windows to Linux Administration: A guide for newcomers (Tech Pro Research)
- Slash data-center costs and downtime by using Coolan's TCO Model
- Six things that make open source a no-brainer for your company
What other benefits—or shortcomings—have you experienced with open source enterprise storage solutions? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.