Open source has traditionally been the option of choice for developers and other IT professionals who wish to achieve desired results without breaking the company budget. When considering open source backup software options, it's important to determine data storage capacity and network bandwidth requirements. For example:
- Determine the backup requirements for both short- and long-term periods
- Compare product feature sets from each vendor
- Compare vendor services, such as pricing, warranties and service-level agreements
Enterprise-class offerings and open source backup software products may differ only in how much data they can back up. Enterprise products may have a larger features set, but why pay for features you may not need? If you have carefully defined your requirements, open source offerings are likely to get within 90% of enterprise-class functionality.
Let's examine a widely used open source backup software product, Amanda, and see how it differs from proprietary backup products.
Open source backup with Amanda
A key reason to use open source is to avoid restrictions concerning the use of vendor-specific tools and data formats. Amanda uses industry-standard tools and data formats, making it possible to recover data without using Amanda. When writing a backup to tape or disk, Amanda does not alter the output in any significant way -- this makes it possible to recover data using almost any tool. The open source backup software inserts a 32K header before any output and this documents the exact command sequence needed to restore the data using standard OS utilities, such as tar or dump.
Using Amanda, system administrators can configure a single server to back up multiple networked clients to tape- or disk-based storage systems concurrently. Data can then be accessed on-site for disk restores and off-site for disaster recovery and long-term archival storage.
Amanda does not use proprietary device drivers, so most devices can be supported by Amanda. Encryption on an Amanda-configured client ensures security of data in transit. Further, encryption on the backup server ensures data security at rest, for example, on tape or in the cloud. Amanda supports 4,096-bit keys with public-key cryptography as well as 256-bit AES encryption. Backup time is about the same for every backup run due to a scheduler that optimizes backup levels for different clients.
Open source data backup tools vs. commercial software
Open source software-defined storage options for primary data apps
Open source offerings have critical architectural advantages