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Linux a snug fit for storage

Pogo Linux Inc. targets midsized companies with its server and storage products. Its focus is those firms whose needs and budgets are better suited for Linux-based products. Founded in 1999 and profitable for three years, Pogo Linux has shifted its concentration to storage and now offers its customers serial ATA and IDE RAID products. In this interview, chief executive officer Tim Lee talks about the challenges and advantages of using Linux-based storage in the enterprise.

Has storage been ignored on the Linux front?
Storage has been largely ignored on the Linux side. Business people don't pay attention to Linux-based storage. They should look toward Linux's cost-effectiveness and flexibility. Storage costs per gigabyte have dropped dramatically while storage demands remain high. Could a Linux-based storage solution help companies comply with regulations?
Some of our financial customers have to archive their e-mail and instant messages to come into compliance with regulation. These integrity requirements have placed new demands on storage. When companies tried to meet regulations, they were doing so at a high cost. Whey spend millions when there are good Linux-based alternatives out there? What makes your approach unique?
The licensing makes it more cost effective. And the flexibility. No proprietary OS is very cost effective. Because we use IDE RAID storage servers, they're a lot more cost effective than SCSI. You get a lot more value to your solution. You can buy a 1.75 terabyte storage server for $7,500, while if you build a SCSI solution, it would cost you $30,000 at the low end.

By using IDE RAID, we are unique. On the high end, corporations use EMC, Sun, NetAppliance. Customers don't want to lose data but, to isolate that data, they don't need to spend multimillions of dollars when there are better fits. Why is Linux a good fit for storage?
When you buy a storage solution from EMC, for example, you don't have access to the operating system. It's their twist on the OS and you have no access to the command shell and cannot update the kernel. We have developed an open architecture for storage. The Linux kernel is wide open. Linux is all about customization and being able to optimize services the way you want to. Linux gives enterprises the flexibility to do what they want. What services are enterprises customizing using Linux?
We don't cater to the Fortune 500. Our customers don't generally have a lot of data they need to store or require high performance from their storage needs. Some need millions of dollars worth of mission-critical equipment. We cater to the other 90%. But every company has second-tier storage that doesn't require a million-dollar solution. [For] companies that have to archive back to tape, or CD-ROM, it would take a day to back in. With a storage server, it's a lot easier to do on the fly. You don't have to back it in. The data is available right there. What barriers still exist regarding Linux? news exclusive: "Expert Q&A -- Putting Linux storage to work" news exclusive: "Sistina execs: Linux-based SANs spell success"

What barriers still exist regarding Linux?
There are barriers on two fronts. People are more familiar with Linux, but there are still trepidations. Companies still don't sense that Linux can handle demands the way a proprietary system can. If you break down an EMC box, for example, you'll see it's similar to all other storage solutions. Once you convince a client that Linux is a stable, robust operating system that is here to stay, they see great opportunities.

On our end, we have to convince them about the advantages of IDE RAID storage as a dependable alternative. RAID is about reliability.

Security is another area that concerns customers when it comes Linux storage. When you purchase a proprietary OS, you can't lock it down the way you want to. The system is as secure as the manufacturer wants it to be. They have no idea how secure you need it to be on an enterprise level.

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