Object Storage: More than Just Archive?

Object storage is typically almost exclusively associated with archive use cases. Long-term retention use cases are important when it comes to ensuring compliance, and object storage indeed functions effectively as a low-cost and searchable data repository. At the same time, however, paying to store data and not use it for more revenue-generating initiatives remains an expensive and unappealing proposition for businesses. The good news for storage managers is that object storage is a highly flexible architecture that can be used for more active and value-add use cases, such as enterprise sync and share collaboration.

Using object storage for more active use cases requires an architecture that facilitates ready data accessibility and levels of performance that are on par with production storage systems. Paul Winzenburg, product manager for Western Digital, recently joined George Crump, Storage Switzerland’s Lead Analyst and Founder, for a Lightboard discussion on how his company’s ActiveScale solution was designed with these characteristics in mind.

The ActiveScale solution establishes decoupled data access and storage tiers. The access tier dynamically allocates data across the systems that comprise the underlying storage tier. Data is consistent and can be read across any system within the storage tier. This helps to accelerate performance because write input/output (I/O) operation traffic is distributed across multiple disks; for example, functions such as erasure coding are not confined to a singular system. Meanwhile, east-west traffic is also reduced, reducing strain on the network.

Storage Switzerland notes a key benefit of a decoupled architecture such as Western Digital’s is the ability to scale performance-oriented compute nodes and capacity-oriented storage nodes independently. Customers can add capacity without also needing to add expensive compute bandwidth, or vice versa. Because workload requirements do not typically change in-line, this is an important capability when it comes to keeping costs in check when running active workloads on object storage. Also notable is the fact that ActiveScale enables data to be read and written through Amazon S3 object and Network File System (NFS) access protocols, which enables both legacy and modern applications to be supported.

The decoupled nature of the ActiveScale architecture furthermore facilitates data durability, a requirement when it comes to serving revenue-generating workloads. Multiple sites can be stitched together, with data existing and being consistently read and written across all sites. Users can still access data in the event of an outage at one site, facilitating business continuity.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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