Spending top dollar to store older fixed content on the typical network attached storage system (NAS) filer is more than just a waste of money — it’s actually spending more to get less. Using an object-based storage system may be the perfect match for such content. For unstructured data (files) it has a richer feature set and is more scalable while being substantially less expensive.
All data goes through some kind of lifecycle. It generally starts out with a very high value that precipitously drops within a few days or weeks. It then has very little value for a long time after which its value may suddenly spike for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, most people store high value and low value data in the same place — tier one filers. Filers have dozens of very important and very expensive features, and performance way beyond the needs of a file that hasn’t been looked at for three years. These features and performance come at a cost.
Filers also have to be backed up — further increasing your cost. Every gigabyte of primary storage is duplicated in your backup system 10-20 times. And the manpower to make all these backups happen is also quite expensive.
Here’s the worst part. This data explosion coupled with the typical hierarchical file system layout means that finding data if it is ever needed again may be next to impossible. While things can be done in advance to facilitate long term access, such as a solid file system hierarchy and strict naming conventions, chances are the typical person won’t have done any of those things and more than likely won’t be able to find a file when they need it. They will end up recreating the data, which is again a waste of money.
In contrast, object storage systems have just the features necessary to facilitate easy storage and retrieval of the objects stored within them. Since most of the data will only be written and rarely read (if ever), they do not have to be as performant as their tier one counterparts. This makes them immediately less expensive to buy than tier one storage.
Secondly, an object storage system that has file versioning and replication does not need to be backed up — because it already is. Versioning will handle any deleted or corrupted file problems, and replication will handle anything that happens during some kind of disaster. You specify exactly how many simultaneous node or site failures you want to be able to survive, and how many versions of every file you want to keep — and that’s what happens. You can exclude this data from your backup system, saving significant amounts of money.
Finally, since object storage systems store data based on its content and metadata instead of useless things like directory or filename, they are inherently better at finding random objects when you are looking for them months or years later. This saves money by reducing the amount of time it takes to find data when you need it, and even more money by removing the need to recreate the data.
An object storage system is a much more economical way to store the primary copy of fixed content. It is also an economical way to make sure that data is protected in the case of accidental deletion or damage to a disaster. Finally, it’s an ideal place to store data that you might find yourself looking for years after it was created.
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