If you’ve been wondering what the business value of object storage (Peak 10 Object Storage in particular), here’s a brief overview of the problems it solves and some of the use cases that best take advantage of its features.
Object Storage Overview
First, here’s a brief refresher. Unlike traditional storage systems that organize data in files or blocks, object storage works with units of storage called objects. Each object contains data, metadata and a unique ID.
The objects are stored in buckets in a flat address space called a storage pool. When the object is stored, an ID is created for it so it can be located in the pool. Every object exists at the same level in the pool. Because the objects aren’t restricted by a hierarchical file structure, the number of object IDs can be increased for almost limitless scalability.
Using an HTTP-based REST application programming interface (API), applications can quickly retrieve the right data through the object’s ID or by querying the metadata using simple commands such as “get,” “put” and “delete.” For resiliency, objects created on one node are copied across multiple data centers. If one node fails, the data can still be made available, typically without any effect on the application or end user. Object storage also employs erasure coding to help maintain data integrity.
The Advantages of Object Storage
To understand why object storage works well for certain use cases, it’s important to understand what it can do that traditional block-based storage systems can’t. When data quantities start running up in the terabytes range, block storage can’t easily be expanded. You likely will run into durability issues, as well as limitations with the storage infrastructure, and rising costs. Object storage, however, can be scaled out and managed simply by adding nodes.
In addition, objects remain protected because multiple copies of data are stored over a distributed system. If any node fails, the data can still be made available, in most cases, without the application or the end user ever being affected. This addresses common issues such as drive failures, bit-rot and power outages. Another advantage of object storage over other storage is that data protection is built into the object architecture. As a result, less expensive commodity hardware can be used.
However, not all object storage services adequately handle the distribution or data protection. Peak 10 Object Storage stands out from much of the competition because it not only erasure codes data across three separate data centers. It erasure codes data to three geographically diverse data centers located at least 200 miles apart. This significantly reduces the chance of ever losing both the original and its copies, and enables Peak 10 to deliver maximum availability and resiliency. Not surprisingly, Peak 10 is able to offer service level agreement (SLA) backed 99.999% availability.
Object Storage Use Cases
The best use cases for object storage are those in which the data sets are unstructured and won’t require a large number of writes or incremental updates. That includes things like static web content, data backup and archives.
Another good use case is DevOps access to geographically distributed back-end. The object storages applications present as network storage and support extendable metadata for efficient distribution and parallel access to objects. That makes it ideal for moving back-end storage clusters across multiple data centers.
However, object storage is not recommended for transactional data or for replacing NAS file access and sharing. It does not support the locking and sharing mechanisms needed to maintain a single accurately updated version of a file.
If you’re considering trying out object storage, start by moving low I/O workloads, which may be on a network attached storage (NAS) device. Because NAS limits the size of the unit and isn’t easy to expand, you typically end up overprovisioning in order to accommodate future expansion for the users. That means underutilization. With object storage you can easily add nodes, allowing full use of the disks you purchased.
Other good options include storing large size files, such as video, audio, graphics, 3D renderings and building information modeling (BIM) data. Legal entities find it useful for storing case files, surveillance videos and related documentation.
Here are two more resources that can help you start taking advantage of object storage: