Object storage and the cloud: Why we’re all secretly obsessed with storage
By Kirstan Pepler, head of propositions, media sector, Easynet
Many of us are not ashamed to admit an obsession with storage solutions, probably the most visited area of a particular Swedish retailer’s website. After all, a tidy house is a tidy mind, as we are told.
For the CTO, storage is fast becoming the latest obsession – this time without a flat pack in site.
The world’s information is doubling every two years. We’re producing and sharing content at an alarming, explosive rate, in a variety of different formats, across a myriad of different devices. Every minute, YouTube users upload 48 hours of new video, Google receives 2,000,000 search queries and Instagram users share 3,600 new photos.
The corporate world is no exception, as organisations strive to source opportunities arising from this surge of content. Businesses scurry to manage Big Data, and new businesses emerge which are solely focused on the opportunities big data presents. But as well as opportunities, vast new content in a variety of formats poses huge storage and distribution issues.
Traditional storage solutions are not the answer to the predicted data explosion that is quickly becoming a reality, as they will become increasingly complex, costly and hard to scale, with the situation becoming ever more complicated as access is demanded from different devices.
This is where Object Storage comes into play. Where previously we might have seen a block- or file-based system, organising data into ‘trees’ or directories, folders, subfolders and files , now we’re seeing an object storage system.
Here, data is stored in containers known as objects. Each object has within it data and metadata attributes which describe the object. Unlike a file-based system, objects are not organised in a hierarchy so every object is stored within a flat address space called a storage pool.
A unique identifier – rather than a file name - allows the user to retrieve the data without needing to know its physical location. In this way, data isn’t ‘tied down’ to a specific drive or path which means that more and more data can be stored and you don’t need to keep track of where it’s held. Similar to the cloud, the user doesn’t need to know where the information is held, just that it’s safe and it’s readily accessible. Object storage is scalable and less complex to manage, and it’s inherently secure, as even if a drive fails, multiple copies of data are replicated and can be retrieved from the other nodes.
Object storage comes into its own in the cloud. In fact, chances are, you’ve been benefitting from this type of storage without realising it if you’re using Amazon S3 Cloud Storage. Object Storage in the cloud is a game changer for businesses because:
- It’s great for storing large digital media assets
- It’s permanent, so no data is lost
- It allows seamless collaboration whilst teams located anywhere in the world can have real-time access to shared content
- It provides instant access to workflows
- Archiving is simple
- It grows with the organisation, as scalability allows for changing requirements
If your organisation doesn’t quite match up to the scale of Google or Apple and you’d prefer to work with a partner than create your own interface, there are a few to choose from. One of the most highly regarded is Web Object Scaler (or WOS) from DataDirect Networks Inc., which can handle more than 200 billion files and 6 petabytes (also known as 6, 000 000 000 000 000 bytes!).
We’re in the midst of a massive flood of data, but object storage is one way to help businesses keep their heads above water.