If you’re implementing or updating an IT system, you’ll probably need to think about what kind of storage to use. For most businesses, object storage is likely to be the best option by far. If you’d like to know more about object storage and object storage advantages, here is a quick guide to help.
In the early days of IT, storage was based on hierarchical systems. At the user level, drives had folders, these had subfolders, these had sub-sub-folders and so on. At the technical level data was stored in segments.
These segments became progressively smaller until they eventually became a single area of memory. This area of memory had an address. When the data was needed, it was retrieved from that address.
This system was perfect for the early days of IT. At this time, most data were highly structured (e.g., spreadsheets and databases). Furthermore, most computers were very low powered (and mobile devices did not exist). Hierarchical systems made the best use of their limited resources.
Over time, however, IT changed. Data became less structured. Users switched from folders and subfolders to hashtags and labels. Storage had to develop to keep up with them. This led to the development of object storage.
Traditional, hierarchical storage can be thought of as an inverted pyramid. When data needs to be retrieved, the application or service starts at the top of the pyramid. It works its way down to the bottom until it finds the data.
Object storage, on the other hand, can be thought of as one large, flat container. It doesn’t use addresses. Instead, it gives each data item a unique identifier. When data needs to be retrieved, the application or service just calls for the data with that identifier.
There is a downside to object storage. It is less efficient at handling very structured data. Overall, however, this slight downside is considered a small price to pay for the many object storage advantages. These include security, robustness, scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
The fact that object storage works on the basis of data identifiers means that it’s relatively simple to manage security and compliance. Firstly, human access can be closely managed and monitored. Secondly, it’s often possible to automate certain key processes.
For example, businesses often have to balance statutory retention periods with data privacy concerns. The usual way to square this circle is to keep the data for as long as required and then delete it immediately. With object storage, it’s generally fairly simple to automate this task.
One of the main object storage advantages is its data-replication capabilities. These make it possible for data to be stored across multiple locations. In the modern world, that will typically mean geographical locations.
This means that object storage has a high level of in-built resilience to hardware failures and network outages (of any sort). If one copy of the data is destroyed, the system will simply replicate it.
It’s still advisable to work on the traditional three, two, one system of backups. In other words, you generally still want three copies of your data. They must be in at least two separate locations. One of those locations must be off-site/in a different cloud. You can, however, place more confidence in the robustness of your backups.
Another significant object storage advantage is its scalability. Traditional, hierarchical architecture quickly becomes overwhelmed by large quantities of data. If the data is unstructured, it becomes overwhelmed even more quickly. This is partly because its performance is heavily dependent on the performance of the underlying infrastructure.
By contrast, object storage can scale quickly and easily. This is probably the single biggest reason why it’s the storage option of choice for cloud services.
Although flexibility is near the bottom of the list of object storage advantages, it’s often very important to businesses.
Object storage is far more flexible than traditional hierarchical architectures. It supports a wide range of protocols (including SOAP and REST). It can also be accessed and managed in a variety of ways. In particular, it supports APIs and web-based interfaces as well as traditional command-line tools.
The headline benefit of this is that it makes object storage easy to integrate into established environments. Another object storage advantage is that it makes it easier to develop new environments, applications, and services.
Object storage is highly cost-effective. The main reason for this is that it will happily run on commodity infrastructure. This is generally much more affordable than customized hardware.
Another reason is that it has robust data-management capabilities. This makes it much easier to automate standard data-management tasks. In particular, it makes it easier to have data moved automatically into slower, lower-cost storage as it ages.
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