NAS vs. Object: The Dollar Per GB Challenge

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.

Watch On Demand

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.

StorageSwiss Take

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.

Sponsored By Caringo

About Caringo

Caringo was founded in 2005 to change the economics of storage by designing software from the ground up to solve the issues associated with data protection, management, organization and search at massive scale. Caringo’s flagship product, Swarm, eliminates the need to migrate data into disparate solutions for long-term preservation, delivery and analysis – radically reducing total cost of ownership. Today, Caringo software is the foundation for simple, bulletproof, limitless storage solutions for the Department of Defense, the Brazilian Federal Court System, City of Austin, Telefónica, British Telecom,, Johns Hopkins University and hundreds more worldwide. Visit to learn more.

W. Curtis Preston (aka Mr. Backup) is an expert in backup & recovery systems; a space he has been working in since 1993. He has written three books on the subject, Backup & Recovery, Using SANs and NAS, and Unix Backup & Recovery. Mr. Preston is a writer and has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world. Preston’s mission is to arm today’s IT managers with truly unbiased information about today’s storage industry and its products.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog
One comment on “NAS vs. Object: The Dollar Per GB Challenge
  1. Tim Wessels says:

    Well, storing warm and cold data in an object-based storage cluster makes good management and financial sense compared with it all on NAS filers. In the not-too-distant future there will be only two types of data storage. OK, maybe three, if you include archival storage. Hot and transactional data will be stored on flash until it is no longer hot or transactional. Then it will be tiered to an object store. Any data created that is not hot or transactional will automatically be put into an object store. Warm data will benefit by being replicated for lower latency access, but once data is cold it will be erasure coded to reduce storage costs while maintaining excellent durability. A single storage administrator will be able to manage 10PB of object-based storage using management tools the OBS vendor supplies.

    The archive tier choice is perhaps less clear. You can go the Spectra Logic DS3 Black Pearl route and store archive data as objects on a LTFS formatted LTO tape in a tape library. You can also look at how Storiant or Caringo do this without using tape. Storiant is focused exclusively on archive data storage. Caringo has a feature call “Darkchive” where many of the HDDs containing archive data may be turned off to increase HDD life and reduce energy costs, which Storiant also addresses.

    The point is to drive down storage costs for warm, cold and archive data while being able to actually find and use this data if it is needed. Mr. Preston makes his point about the benefits of object-based storage instead of NAS, and it is well stated.

Comments are closed.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22,228 other followers

Blog Stats
%d bloggers like this: