Understanding the Future of Open-Source Storage

Data storage is a crucial and sensitive component of organizational infrastructure. While crashing applications can easily be restarted and lost network packets retransmitted, storage needs should always be reliable. Most companies rely on commercial offerings for their storage needs for various reasons. While commercial options are beneficial, depending on one vendor for your storage needs puts you under their mercy in terms of upgrades, price changes, and quality of support offered.

Migrating data storage from one provider to another is incredibly tedious, mostly due to the quantity of data involved. Fortunately, organizations can avoid the challenges of commercial storage providers by shifting to open-source storage infrastructure.

What is Open-Source Storage, and Why is it Becoming Popular?

open source storage

Open-source storage describes storage solutions that have been made public, and interested parties can use, redistribute, and modify them. Open-source software development aims at encouraging innovation, transparency, and collaboration. This allows users to audit codes, make necessary changes, fix bugs, and improve code developments to suit their specific storage needs.

Open-source storage solutions have several perks. For instance, it has a participating community of contributors who maintain, extend, and collaborate to solve arising issues. This storage solution also enhances compatibility. Note that open-source storage solutions don’t differ much from open-source tools.

That said, open-source storage solutions are gaining popularity for several reasons. Unlimited control over your data storage and fair pricing are probably why more organizations are shifting to open-source solutions for their storage needs. Most open-source storage providers also offer excellent scalability.

These solutions can also be used for multiple business needs, including encryption, array clustering, and file and print services. Most organizations also like the fact that they can support open-source storage solutions in the cloud or their servers. Businesses can use open-source storage to create cloud storage, network-attached storage, storage area networks, object storage, and infrastructure storage.

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Network-attached Storage (NAS)

Network-attached storage is accessed through networks rather than direct connections to the computer. Network-attached storage solutions have processors and operating systems, allowing them to share files and securely run applications with authorized persons. Multiple computers, users, and mobile devices can access NAS devices. Open-source storage solutions that can support NAS include:

  • Openfiler – supports both NAS and SAN
  • OpenMediaVault – has multiple services, including BitTorrent clients, DAAP media server, and RSync.
  • FreeNAS – Linux-based option

Object Storage

Object storage is best suited for storing massive volumes of unstructured data. A common example of object storage in use is Facebook, which stores photos, Dropbox, which stores files; and Spotify, which stores songs. The following open-source storage options support object storage:

  • Ceph object storage gateway
  • OpenIO – best for managing large volumes of unstructured data.

Storage Area Network (SAN)

Storage area network uses a high-speed computer network to connect multiple shared storage pools with servers. Each server has direct access to shared storage and offers a block-level data storage solution. However, files can be built on SAN to create file-level access. Open-source storage solutions that are compatible with SAN include:

  • Openfiler – has several features that support SAN and NAS
  • Libvirt Storage Management – is Linux-based and supports several storage pools, including filesystem pools, NAS pools, directory pools, and logical volume pools.

The Benefits of Open-Source Storage

More organizations are increasingly adopting open-source storage solutions because of the following benefits:

  • Cost-saving – licensing open-source storage apps is typically free. However, organizations can improve or add open-source software and charge for the changes. Cost-saving is the key benefit for open-source users, especially organizations with small budgets.
  • Total privacy and control – open-source storage solutions offer total control and privacy than commercial apps. Commercial storage solutions tie companies to cloud storage, making it mandatory for the organization to have internet access to access stored data. This also affects data privacy. Open-source solutions help companies avoid vendor lock-in, allowing companies to avoid the struggles of vendor lock-in while enjoying maximum customization that can’t be achieved with cloud or commercial software.
  • Great support – the open-source community supports unlimited creativity and assistance. Members frequently share solutions that help others build on their applications. Organizations can benefit from reasonable support offered by open-source community members for free through online forums.
  • Unmatched scalability – open-source storage solutions, including HPCC, Ceph, Lustre, ZFS, Apache Hadoop, and others, offer great scalability.
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Adoption Considerations for Open-Source Storage

While open-source storage solutions are cost-effective, you should understand the difference between downloading projects for free, trying them out on developer machines, and relying on them to power crucial applications with stringent stability and security requirements.

As such, enterprises switching to open-source storage solutions should have strong technical knowledge and resources to develop solutions that support such mission-critical applications. This might prove complicated for organizations. Flexibility is the other challenge facing enterprises. Unfortunately, organizations can’t be guaranteed unlimited flexibility with open-source technologies.

Even though organizations have the capability and talents to build, design, and support customized storage solutions, they should ensure that these solutions integrate with organizations’ hardware platforms.

Ensuring Cyber Resilience

With the sharp increase in cyberattacks, organizations should consider cyber resilience prospects when adopting open-source storage solutions. The basics of durable data storage solutions and data management haven’t changed. Therefore, efficiency, throughput, resilience, and performance remain top considerations when procuring open-source storage solutions.

To leverage open-source storage solutions, organizations should ensure that the solution supports hybrid and multi-cloud environments. The solution should also enable agility and scalability.

Available Open-Source Storage Solutions

While the future of open-source storage solutions remains viable, you should know some of the best open-source storage solutions available. They include:

  • OpenStack – it is a cloud operating system with a data center that handles large pools of networking resources. The platform has a dashboard that makes it easy for administrators to manage stored data.
  • Ceph – is a distributed object storage that provides high scalability, reliability, and performance. Enterprises can build economic storage systems using various commodity hardware.
  • RockStor – it is a free NAS solution and a great alternative for public cloud storage. RockStor eliminates the risks and costs of relying on public cloud storage. This option is best for home users, small and medium businesses or any other user without extensive IT experience.
  • Kinetic Open Storage – this option is backed by giant companies, including EMC, Cisco, NetApp, Toshiba, and Red Hat. Most users of Kinetic storage solutions use unstructured data and distributed file systems.
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The Bottom Line

Open-source storage solutions offer organizations great flexibility and agility required to control data storage. Apart from affordable pricing, the open-source community provides extensive support for organizations that need to develop, update, and improve their storage solutions.

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Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is an out going creative writer and tech blogger who has a passion for helping people and building creativity in the mind, through his outstanding tutorials, articles and excellent reviews of any gadget.


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