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Open Source SAN Software And The Virtual SAN

Keywords: open source san software, san, sans, shared storage, virtual san, vsan, solarwinds license, free virtual server software, storage virtualization, starwind virtual san, starwind software, starwind

Open source software gives IT administrators the option to tailor their systems around the specific demands of their businesses – at zero or minimal cost, and with enterprise level performance. For users of storage area networks (SANs), open source SAN software can facilitate the deployment of their shared storage and virtual SAN environments.

What Is Open Source?

Open source is the term used to describe a software licensing model where the source code for an application is publicly accessible, and capable of being modified by individual users.

“Free” and “open source” are often taken as synonymous, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The greater proportion of open source software offerings won’t cost you a dime. But some packages will request or even require a small “donation”, for the upkeep of the developers. Others may just look you in the eye and charge a straight-up fee for “administrative purposes”, or some such.

What is true to say is that none of these charges will likely be anywhere near as high as the cost of the equivalent mainstream or proprietary software packages. And when you download or install an open-source product, it’s yours in perpetuity. The issue of managing a SolarWinds license or fudging your user allocation figures doesn’t apply.

If you ask a developer in the open source ecosystem, they’ll tell you that the “free” aspect relates to how users can deploy and manipulate the software. Open source licenses permit users to alter the source code of an application. So anyone with the relevant programming skills can add new features, tweak the existing ones, and share the new modules they’ve created with the open source community.

It’s this level of customization that makes open source software such an attractive proposition for budget-starved IT professionals and administrators.

How Open Source SAN Software Helps Network Managers

To provide access to block-level storage, a storage area network or SAN must interconnect and offer up shared pools of storage devices to multiple servers. This requires cabling, host bus adapters (HBAs), and switches attached to storage arrays and file servers. That’s a lot of hardware to wrangle – and anything that can make the system administrator’s life easier is a welcome addition.

Even on SAN systems that rely on hardware, software may be used to introduce a level of automation that relieves administrators of the burden of some of their routine management tasks. With open source SAN software, system managers can easily configure and customize their network management tools to cater for a range of workloads and scenarios.

When an organization makes the move from a hardware-based SAN to a virtual SAN, the scope for automation and customization becomes even greater. A virtual SAN or vSAN creates logical or virtual partitions inside a storage area network. These act as shared pools of virtualized storage.

A virtual SAN environment is a software-defined storage space – and open source SAN software creates opportunities for fine-tuning and administering such systems in a cost-effective and versatile manner. There’s a large and growing ecosystem of open source platforms offering free virtual server software and vSAN administration tools, each with various options for tailoring a storage virtualization system to your specific needs.

How StarWind Virtual SAN Aids Customization

StarWind Virtual SAN provides all the necessary building blocks for a true Software-Defined Datacenter. StarWind software runs on COTS hardware and deploys on any existing setup that meets its requirements – eliminating the need for additional purchases.

StarWind maintains Bring Your Own License (BYOL) and existing hardware re-purposing policies for its hardware and software products. Previously purchased software licenses can be reused both for StarWind and third-party software – so you won’t have to pay for anything twice.

Both the free and commercial versions of StarWind Virtual SAN can be configured as the principal storage provider for hyperconverged and converged environments.  

StarWind Virtual SAN Free ships with a set of ready-to-use PowerShell scripts that help users to quickly deploy the Virtual SAN infrastructure, and configure most of its features. As with any other open source solution, StarWind Free users can modify existing scripts, create new ones, and share them with others. And the free version doesn’t have any synthetic performance limitations – so its performance stands in line with Enterprise-class storage arrays.

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