Small- and medium-sized businesses often have to make sacrifices when it comes to technology decisions. As housing association North Devon Homes found, storage solutions targeting SMBs often lack the sophistication to fulfill their needs. At the same time, solutions targeting large enterprises came at too large of a cost.

As ComputerWeekly contributor Antony Adshead reported, NDH decided it was time to look for new shared storage solution when its existing system experienced 36 hours of downtime. The lack of vendor-provided support convinced NDH system administrator Mark Robson to look for high-availability storage options that came with a stronger level of customer service.

NDH originally considered building its own storage platform. However, Robson told the news source that he did not have the resources to manage such an investment for the long term. This is part of the reason that Robinson decided to pursue commercial storage options. NDH ultimately chose NexentaSTOR – a platform developed by Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partner Nexenta – and deployed it on Dell PowerEdge Servers, utilizing SuperMicro’s JBOD with SAS drives. This allowed for a total capacity of 9.5 terabytes, and, with additional solid-state drive technology, NDH can achieve close to 500,000 input/output operations per second. Supermicro is another Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance partner.

“We get a lot of value for money with a software product and there’s no vendor lock-in,” Robson said, according to the news source. “All the feature options are available out of the box; we won’t have to pay £30,000 [approximately $47,000] to activate data deduplication or snapshots in a year’s time because we already have it.”

Nexenta CEO makes a case for open source cloud storage
In a recent interview with Linux Insider, Nexenta CEO Mark Lockareff and Chief Strategy Officer Evan Powell discussed some of the main advantages of software-defined storage and open source, which is the technology NexentaSTOR is built on.

“The traditional storage model is to sell you an appliance,” Powell told the news source. “That appliance comes with software that writes your data to a disk in proprietary format. So you normally only have one way to access your data, and that is through your vendor’s technology. Open source, in addition to its innovation in OSes and other computing area, brings an additional element to storage. You can now fire your vendor if you need to. There is no vendor lock-in. That makes perfect sense.”

Lockareff explained that organizations relying on software-defined storage can maintain the value of the software they purchase. Rather than lose both a hardware and platform investment by switching vendors, SDS allows organizations to more freely choose their infrastructure. Furthermore, it eliminates some of the extra costs associated with hardware refreshes, so businesses ultimately have more control over when they upgrade.

The open source paradigm may also be able to address one of the most prevalent cloud storage concerns: security. Utilizing a traditional cloud solution, businesses do not necessarily have visibility into their vendor’s infrastructure. However, open source means that the code is available for review. As Powell suggested, this allows organizations to see for themselves whether there are vulnerabilities in the vendor’s system.

Although open source solutions have proven valuable, it is critical to remember that any cloud deployment’s effectiveness will depend heavily on the readiness of the organization.

“If you put your data up in the clouds, data likes to sit next to the application to get performance,” Powell explained. “If your apps are ready to go to the cloud, put your storage there. If they are not, you probably would want to use cloud storage as an archive or back up where it is not so performance-sensitive.”

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