Backup appliances do one thing well, store backup data. Object storage systems, as we’ve shown, can also fulfill this role. But unlike typical backup appliance they can do so much more.
As a backup target, object storage systems provide an on-prem S3-compatible platform that is compatible with most backup solutions on the market. Benefits include scalability and a very high degree of data durability, thanks to the redundancy inherent in the object storage architecture. Furthermore, because object storage systems are built from scale-out, shared-nothing clusters, replicating data to offsite storage is a snap. You simply need to distribute your cluster nodes across multiple locations.
Object Storage for Archives
Unlike traditional backup appliances, object storage systems can store archives as well as backups. This is because they are specifically designed to hold onto data for long periods of time. This makes object storage good for backups, but it makes it even better as a long-term or archive storage system. Instead of just storing backup images as objects, you can store individual files as objects along with their associated metadata. The metadata allows you to search and find the object after it has been stored, which is especially important when storing data for a long time.
Of course, if you are storing data for a long period of time, you must ensure data integrity over time. The way object storage works ensures that when you retrieve a file it is the same as it was when you stored it. Each object is given a unique hash that represents its contents. If any part of the content changes, the hash will change, indicating silent or malicious corruption of an object. An object storage system can continually check objects against their stored hash value and repair damaged objects before they are actually needed. This makes it ideal for storing data for extremely long periods of time.
Archiving data typically requires a different application than the backup application. The good news is the industry now has several high quality, easy to use data management software solutions that automatically identify and move data to the archive storage area and transparently restore data if a user accesses the file. The other good news is that an object storage appliance can be used by both backup and archiving apps.
Object Storage for File Sync and Share
File sync and share moves out of the cloud and back on-premises. Enterprise file sync and share software and appliances give IT the ability to provide DropBox-like services to their users. In a sync and share service, most files are not accessed directly from the copy of record, but instead are accessed via the local copy on someone’s laptop or desktop computer. Therefore, the performance of the copy of record is less important than ensuring the copy of record is stored in a system that will preserve its integrity. An object storage system is perfect for this.
Object Storage for NAS
An object storage system with an accompanying file gateway can be many things to many people due to its ability to securely store data. Since it is capable of both object storage access and file sharing access, it means that it can be useful to applications new and old alike – without forcing you to change your process. If your application is capable of storing data via the S3 API, then use that. If it’s not yet capable of storing data this way, then simply use the file sharing interface and write your data via NFS or SMB. Your process does not need to change.
From making sure that data is stored in multiple locations to making sure that the data remains unchanged even after long periods of time, an object storage system can be many things to many people. It would be a mistake to simply think of it as something that can only store backups, archives, or shared user files. It can do all of those things easily.
Sponsored by Cloudian