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Got geeks? Low-cost cloud storage software could work for you

Marc Staimer, founder and senior analyst at Dragon Slayer Consulting, offered storage pros at TechTarget's Storage Decisions conference a roundup of low-cost cloud storage software that can be used for internal projects and broke them down into two categories: open source and commercial choices. "Be aware … it's a true do-it-yourself play. These products are not like Hadoop -- which is a well-managed open source project. You are going to have to make up with sweat equity what is not stable in the code.

"I've had numerous conversations with people about Inktank Ceph and Openstack Swift," Staimer said. "There have been numerous companies that were not prepared and did not have the skill, and they had to turn around and go contract with another party [commercial cloud storage software], and then migrate the data. That's a nontrivial path all the way around."

If you are really motivated by saving money -- and you have the labor to build and rebuild by rewriting your own code -- then the supported open source options such as OpenStack will work. "I know a lot of people who have gone this route," Staimer said. "You just have to be prepared ahead of time to know that there is no free lunch. Because you aren't paying much for it, you have to do a lot on your own."

When considering the commercial low-cost options, know that it is a relatively short list, with products such as Sanbolic's Melio and Scality. If you are buying Melio, Staimer said, you are most likely a Windows shop and are looking to build something internal that competes with some of the public offerings. "There are definitely more private cloud projects on people's budgets this year than last," Staimer said of 2014. Oftentimes, C-level managers are requesting these projects. The danger, Staimer said, is that "it's not based on business requirements; it's based on perceived competitive requirements."

Still, Staimer is a fan of internal cloud projects, just as long as you understand the goals of your projects. "If you don't know your requirements in detail and you don't know your definition of success, you are going to fail."

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