Object Storage is a storage technology that IT planners should include in their plans for 2019. The headline feature of object storage is incredibly low-cost storage that scales to meet almost any capacity demand. It’s true that object storage is incredibly cost-effective and that it scales to very high capacities while providing excellent data durability features, but another essential advantage of object storage is the variety of use cases to which IT can apply it. Organizations don’t need an object storage specific use case, like the Internet of Things (IoT), or an application that natively reads and writes object data. They can start with something as simple as a backup storage target and expand the use cases from there.
Storage Switzerland recently participated in a roundtable discussion, “What’s Your Plan for Object Storage?”, with Caringo, Cloudian, and Scality that provided insight to IT planners as to how to begin using Object Storage in their data centers. Some of the compelling initial use cases are using object storage for backup, archive, file-sharing and of course storing object data.
Object Storage for Backup
Backup software has changed, it can almost continuously receive block-level updates of volumes it is protecting and has the ability to insatiate recovery volumes directly on the backup storage areas. Continuous updates and instantiating recovery volumes are not the usual object storage use case. IT needs a high-performance storage solution for those situations. Object Storage’s role is to store all the other data associated with the backup. IT only needs the high-performance backup tier for the most recent backup jobs, everything else IT can send to the object storage system. The cost savings enables IT to invest more in the high-performance tier.
Object Storage for Archive
Almost every study of primary storage indicates that over 80% of the data stored on it hasn’t been accessed in years and organizations shouldn’t be storing it there. Storing inactive data on primary storage increases backup complexity and organizational exposure to an attack. The problem is how to get this inactive data off of the primary storage systems and onto a lower cost storage infrastructure. Object storage is an ideal storage area for archive data thanks to its low cost, data durability features, and scalability. Most object storage vendors either offer or partner with solutions to identify and move old data from primary storage. The software performing the moves can also create a transparent link so that users have seamless access to their data.
Object Storage for File Sharing
The performance capabilities of object storage systems are increasing, and in some cases, object storage can assume primary storage responsibilities. Using object storage for user home directories is an excellent example especially when coupled with the backup or archive use cases. The organization can provide home directory storage almost for free. Object storage vendors have partnerships in place with Enterprise File Sync and Share Solutions (EFSS) and can be the foundation for IT providing users with a secure way to share files that meet the latest data privacy regulations as we discussed in our webinar “How to Design a Compliant and GDPR Ready Collaboration System”.
Object Storage for Objects
Finally, there is a natural use case for object storage, storing objects. Object data can come from a variety of sources, and it is still for the most part file data. The key difference is the protocol used to store it and the metadata captured with that data. Humans are not particularly good at adding metadata to files, but machines are excellent. Machines that are capturing data can also store data like machine serial number, weather conditions, the rate of speed, elevation and a variety of other data points. All of this metadata can then be leveraged to help identify the data when it is needed later.
2019 may not be “the year” for object storage but should be a year where the number of organizations using it increases dramatically. These systems are much easier to install, and the number of potential use cases is compelling. Most important a single object storage system can support all of these use cases simultaneously. Again, to learn more check out our round-table discussion featuring Caringo, Cloudian, and Scality, “What’s Your Plan for Object Storage?”.