The Storage Forum provides a brief review of the open source FreeNAS project. FreeNAS is a small (less than 16MB) operating system based on FreeBSD 6 that provides free Network-Attached Storage services: CIFS, FTP and NFS.

The money quote:

Testing I did in my lab with FreeNAS on a high end Xeon with SATA disks simply screamed. There’s just no other way to describe it. I ran my throughput tests five times before I was sure I hadn’t made some fundamental mistake with the math. I saw $75k performance from a $5k box running a beta NAS software platform.

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Help Keep Vendors Working For Your Business
Open source software is exerting enormous pressure on commercial vendors to keep innovating technically and commercially. Look at the progress Microsoft has made with Windows Server, scaling it up to compete Apache and Linux, and compare that to the glacial pace of Internet Explorer until Firefox came along. Vendors are businesses – if they don’t have a business reason to invest they won’t.

Which is why open source storage is so important. Whether it is FreeNAS or ZFS, open source can either drive cost out of commercial products or force them to improve. There is a business case that any company with an IT budget over $1 million a year should set aside 2% for investing in and supporting the open source alternative to their most important platform. This 2% For Open investment will pay for itself in lower products costs, improved functionality and a stronger bargaining position.

Lend A Hand
Those of you with technical skills might want to help. And those of you who supply low-end NAS to clients might want to look at using it – and helping.