Open source software is now a common component in most organizations' IT infrastructure, particularly at the server OS layer where Linux has made significant inroads. Now open source software is becoming more common in other data center realms such as storage, and is poised for significant growth.
On the storage front, companies such as Nexenta and Gluster (acquired by Red Hat in 2011) placed big bets on delivering file systems for midrange and enterprise storage. Newcomer InkTank provides innovation in file system technology via its CEPF file system, and integrates it within the OpenStack and CloudStack open source cloud platforms.
Open source storage software lets you choose the underlying hardware that provides the best bang for the buck based on your--or the application's--requirements, including NAS, object-based and/or Hadoop storage systems.
The use of commodity hardware and open source software can cut overall costs by up to two-thirds the cost of proprietary storage systems. If you have a volume purchase agreement with a supported server and/or storage vendor, then your cost savings may be even greater.
[Microsoft's ReFS and Oracle/Sun's ZFS remedy errors that might otherwise corrupt data. Here's how they stack up. "Microsoft ReFS and Oracle ZFS: How They Compare."]
Open source storage software supports enterprise features such as snapshots and remote replication, and can sense the server vendor and model being deployed. Some storage software offerings can even aggregate multiple server memories and leverage them as read and write cache. Additionally, they offer private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud storage solutions.
The growth of open source storage software is just one sign that this decade will be a showcase of open source innovation. Why? Because even though the global economy is improving, companies are demanding continued reductions in costs to process and leverage information. This demand will force IT to take advantage of open source options wherever possible to realize cost savings. This is already happening with the OpenStack movement, which is attracting significant interest from cloud and service providers that need the ability to scale up compute and storage resources without paying for proprietary software.
Aside from economics, the open source model gives IT administrators and users a direct, unfiltered voice to developers via open communities. Developers know, in real-time, what users want and when they want it.
Will traditional proprietary products disappear as open source gains more momentum? I think not. Many proprietary products are entrenched in within their customers' infrastructure, making them difficult to dislodge. However, we will see proprietary vendors attempt to take advantage of open source development to further their own aims and neutralize potential threats.
Has open source software found its way into your organization's data center or cloud environment? If so, does your company dabble in it, or fully embrace it? I would love to see your comments and get your thoughts on open source's evolution in the enterprise.Tom Trainer is founder and president of analyst firm Analytico. Prior to founding Analytico, Trainer was Principal Storage Product Marketing Manager at Red Hat, and Director of Marketing at Gluster prior to its acquisition by Red Hat. Tom has worked as managing senior partner ... View Full Bio