Why Would a Service Provider Want Object Storage?

Object storage was built for the cloud; therefore, any company considering providing storage services for other companies will find object storage the best fit for that application. Other shared storage systems, such as NAS filers, simply do not compare when used in the massively scalable, multi-tenant world of the public cloud.

Service providers that wish to provide storage services to other companies need to take many things into consideration. They must start small but be prepared to grow big very quickly – without scrapping investments along the way. The margins of a service provider can be quite small, so such companies cannot afford to rip and replace hardware as they grow. They also cannot afford any security issues; any computer or storage systems they use must support multi-tenancy out of the box. If a service provider manages to grow its business to thousands of customers, it must also make sure the performance remains constant throughout its growth. Finally, it must make sure that any data stored on their systems is immediately and constantly protected from accidental erasure, corruption or disasters.

All of these reasons are exactly why object storage makes perfect sense for a service provider. First, consider the business aspects. Service providers operating at high volumes and low margins must spend as little as possible on the infrastructure, and object storage systems are the least expensive way to reliably store data on disk. They are inexpensive for multiple reasons, the first of which is they require less overhead to protect from corruption or media failure. The use of advanced data protection techniques such as erasure coding and multi-site replication allow object storage systems to protect against human error, media failure, and site failure all with a single system. Object storage systems are also less expensive overall because a storage provider can purchase a relatively small system and grow it as large as they need to without replacing anything along the way. Object storage systems are also built using inexpensive commodity hardware, which saves money as well.

Object storage systems also have other built-in features that appeal to service providers. Where traditional storage systems require a lot of expensive hardware and software to create high-availability, object storage systems come with this built-in. They also usually support multi-tenancy, where traditional storage systems must add this feature.

Performance remains constant from a small system to a very large system as additional capacity always comes with additional compute. In addition, there is no file system table or directory structure that must be accessed by every application attempting to access data. Each object is accessed directly by its unique ID.

StorageSwiss Take

There are many reasons why all of the large public cloud service providers have built their systems on object storage. Infinite scalability without any forklift upgrades, inexpensive hardware based on commodity nodes, and many built-in features such as multi-tenancy, integrated data protection, and high-availability are all features that a service provider is going to want. Object storage was simply made with service providers in mind.

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.

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