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Mix-and-match open source for corporate networks

Approach raises key question: Is it appropriate for enterprise use?

By , Network World
May 01, 2006 12:00 AM ET

Network World - Some say open source software is not worth using. Some say it infringes on patents. Some say it will save the world.

Setting aside the religious hype, open source software raises a serious technical question: Is it appropriate for enterprise use?

The OSS InteropLabs Initiative explores this query. During InteropLabs' HotStage event in early April, the team assembled a group of components to show how a substantial enterprise could use open source software to run its IT infrastructure.

The scenario is this: A large corporation with its purely open source network acquires a smaller company, which then has to migrate from being a pure Microsoft shop to interoperating with the open source network of its new parent. This fictitious enterprise requires the network services of any growing company: departmental communications, file storage, e-mail, VoIP telephony and a network infrastructure to support users.

Four racks of HP Proliant DL320 1U servers and assorted appliances were configured to represent a typical network topology. A server farm of Red Hat Fedora Core 4 servers and a mix of other Linux platforms, including several IBM/Lenovo laptop clients and network appliances based on open source software from Vyatta and Force10, supported the applications and services running across the network.

Those services included OpenXchange (from www.open-xchange.org) for e-mail and calendaring, Samba (from www.samba.org) for file and print sharing, Asterisk for VoIP telephony, and Apache for Web-based services.

Also in the network were OpenLDAP (www.openldap.org) for directory services, Bind and DHCPD (from the Internet Systems Consortium, www.isc.org) for naming and IP address management, FreeRADIUS (www.freeradius.org) for authentication, Cerebrum (cerebrum.sourceforge.net) for identity management and Xorp (www.xorp.org), Bird (bird.network.cz) and Quagga (www.quagga.net) for routing.

For media streaming, the team tapped Icecast (www.icecast.org) and VideoLAN (www.videolan.org) open source wares. Implementation was not without its hard-fought glitches, but this was a fully functional corporate network, right down to its YUM server (www.linux.duke.edu/projects/yum) used for managing patches and updates.

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