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Open Source Archiving Software Vs Free, Which is Best?

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That depends on exactly what you (the customer) want....

Over the last few months we have been asked a few times if we would consider open sourcing ArchiverFS. This generated more than a few discussions as you may well imagine, and in the end we have settled on providing a free licence for smaller deployments.

But why I hear you ask? Surely open source is the way forwards?

Well yes and no... First we had a good look at other companies to see what they were doing and to try to get a handle on thier reasons for either going open source or not. We have yet to find a company that has genuinely open sourced thier entire code base, at best you get a crippled version of thier product with key features missing. Often these features are the ones you really want as a larger business.

What's more, there is normally no assisted support available. To access any kind of assisted support you frequently need to purchase a licence for the full price product, without which you can't even log a support request.

There are certain markets where open source works really well, but we don't feel that archiving solutions is one of them. To us, if you open source a software product that means that you place the entire codebase online and engage with the community in full. You accept code changes and submissions from contributors and you work with them to develop the solution. If you want to commercialise open source software then you do that by providing support services and consultancy around your product.

From here we had a good look at what people were telling us they wanted from a solution. What they told us they wanted was:

  • Reliable solutions that perform day in and day out without issue.
  • Great value for money.
  • Prompt support and assistance when something goes wrong.
  • The feeling that there is someone to 'own' an issue if they have to make a support request.

We took these criteria and placed ArchiverFS up against them, assessing how it stacked. We came away pleased with the results and we are confident that we absolutely meet and exceed all of the points.

However.. we then considered why someone would use an open source solution. Simply put it comes down to the word 'free'....

The words 'free' and 'open source' are now used interchangeably by most people. For a lot of people who are looking for a solution one of the first things they do is search for 'free XYZ', if that doesn't turn up anything they'll then try 'open source XYZ'.

This insight revealed a flaw in our licensing model. What about those companies who are extremely cost conscious and who just do not have the size of system that justifies the investment in an enterprise scale archiving solution?

In the past our licensing model was really simple, e.g. the amount you paid was based on the number of scheduled jobs you wanted to create, not on the amount of data you wanted to migrate.

This made ArchiverFS incredible value for larger deployments, but poor value for money for small ones. Just because someone 'only' has 1TB of files in their file system, that doesn't mean their needs aren't fairly complicated and that they only require a single archive job.

This then lead us to introduce two changes.. a subscription licensing model that is based on the amount of data customers want to archive, and a completely free licence for smaller deployments that supports up to 5 scheduled jobs.

You can read more about the licensing options for ArchiverFS here, including the free licence.

We are confident that with the two new licensing models we can offer a better quality of service than if we were to go the open source route, and at the end of the day that is what it is all about to us......

Quality service, great value and someone to own your issue if something doesn't quite work to plan. To us and the customers we spoke to these are the things that really matter.


Mark Laverty

Mltek