Object Storage: The ever expanding cloud storage

Object Storage The ever expanding cloud storage

Object Storage

Overview

Storage is one of the key factors of cloud infrastructure besides compute and network. There are recommendations from vendors and developers on what types of storage options should be used on the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform. It determines overall cloud performance and also provides security for confidential data. However, experts and end users adopt mixtures of all possible storage technologies as per their needs, environment and financial budget.

Most of the cloud storage technologies and service providers can be categorized as follows:

  • Public Cloud Storage
  • Private Cloud Storage
  • Hybrid Cloud Storage

They provide primary features like sharing, storing and hosting data but do not offer the exact same features.

Any of the above cloud storage platforms can be built with file storage, block storage or object based storage technologies. They can also be used together but all of them have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Now-a-days, more and more businesses are choosing object storage for cloud and web storage due to its nature. In this article we will discuss object storage and most of the common questions related to it…

What is Object storage?

Object storage is a term used for types of storage technologies in which data is stored as data – metadata and identifier/address form for each file. In the block storage and file storage, disk/share is directly attached/mounted on operating system for read-write operation, while in object storage, data can be accessed directly through APIs or http/https URL calls.

Object storage is not suitable for all types of data but is well suited for media and archive files that are not changed frequently. Object storage has identical characteristics but it still is not a replacement for NAS file access and shared storage. Many companies are making products to convert and use object storage as NFS, CIFS and iSCSI share. Some softwares impersonate such abilities but their performance can’t be matched with the native technology.

Object storage is a perfect storage solution for applications where data does not require a large number of writes or incremental updates. It solves increasing problems of growing data by making multiple copies of the data over a distributed system. It’s preferred storage solution for cloud applications. In object storage, the more storage nodes we add, the more the capacity and performance of data cluster increases.

Unique features of Object Storage:

Scalability

In object storage solution, it’s possible to scale storage cluster from 2 to ‘N’ number of servers. Just keep adding servers in the existing cluster and store unlimited amount of data. Object storage cluster gets full horizontal scalability for all services which means that users get environment-level performance for their backup connections.

Durability

Data is replicated on multiple disks of multiple servers across multiple Data Centers. Thus, in case of a failure, there will be no data loss.

High availability

Object storage is set up in distributed clustered environment, which means it is fault tolerant and has high availability cover by nature. Data will be available 24x7x365 days.

Cost-effectiveness and reduces IT overheads

As all object storage data is always readily available, you can save the cost and administrative hassle of having a separate backup and process in place. No special skill or experience is needed to manage object storage account. Thus, there is no need to appoint special backup admin for backup tasks. Also, it’s a pay as you go storage solution which means that charges will be based on actual usage only.

Ease of management

There are plenty of Android/IoS/Windows mobile apps, native CLI and server/desktop GUI client tools available to manage well-known service providers and open source object storage technology accounts. There is no additional training or third party tool dependency to manage object storage account.

Faster data retrieval and better data recovery

Object storage supports incremental backup of data and also uploads resumptions which helps to reduce data transfer time. It also maintains a version of the file so recovery is easy in the future.

Secure Multi-tenancy

Object Storage can handle multiple accounts and allows total isolation of the data associated with one account which means that users cannot access one’s data. It also has the ability to share data between accounts or even publicly.

Encryption and data security

Stored data on single disk, server or cluster is encrypted by default, so there are no chances of data compromise and disruption to confidential data. For an additional layer of security, many storage providers enable SSL certificate on endpoint and dashboard URL links.

Areas where Object Storage will serve the storage purpose:

These are the well-tested and performance-proven use cases where object storage solution fits perfectly. For these types of files, data scale reaches hundreds of TB and moves into the PB range and beyond:

  • Compressed backup files, database dumps, and log files which don’t need update on the storage server
  • Unstructured media files like audio, video and image files
  • Any other large static data which can grow over a period of time

Object storage can be used to take backup of data residing on many devices such as mobile, desktop and servers including cross platform operating systems. Various client applications have already provided support for multiple object storage platforms and service provider’s login that range from native OpenStack Swift to Microsoft Azure and leading hosting provider public storage cloud.

Object Storage is not an ideal storage solution for these types of data:

  • Relational Databases
  • Application depending on server side processing and high I/O resource
  • Data which need random read-write within object

Some well-known object storage tools and technologies and public cloud service providers:

Here is the list of widely used and very popular tools and technologies that can be used to build private, public and hybrid storage cloud.

  • OpenStack Swift:
    Swift module of OpenStack software can be used to build Object storage cluster. OpenStack is very robust and matured software to deploy any IaaS platform. It’s an open source project which means there is no licensing cost.
  • Ceph:
    Ceph is another free and an open source software-defined storage technology which can be used to build storage platform with Object storage feature. It provides interfaces for object-, block- and file-level storage in distributed environment. It does support API for other typical object storage solutions as amazon S3, OpenStack Swift and storage protocols as NFS, SMB and iSCSI.
  • OpenIO:
    OpenIO is also a type of SDS (Software-Defined Storage) which can be used to set up scale-out object storage software platform. OpenIO also supports API for other typical object storage solutions as amazon S3, OpenStack Swift and storage protocols as NFS, SMB and iSCSI.

Object Storage Public Cloud Providers.

  • eCOS – Auto Scalable Storage by ESDS Software Solution PVT. LTD.
  • Rackspace Cloud Files
  • Amazon S3
  • Google Cloud Storage

Summary

As Object Storage provides a variety of benefits with unique features that no other storage solution offers and since it’s a well suited storage solution for large storage requirements, it should be considered as a solid cloud storage platform for scalable infrastructures.

Deciding which object storage solution will be the perfect choice for your business is not an easy task. One can go with all possible solutions and a service provider on a trial basis or on PoC (Proof Of Concept) and transfer some data on new solution to find its performance and suitability. After carrying out real-time benchmark of read, write and I/O operations on your applications, it should be easy to conclude as which is the right solution for your needs.

DATA is expanding and so are object servers.

Kiran Aher

Kiran Aher

Senior Cloud Administrator at ESDS Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Kiran Aher is a Cloud Administrator and DevOps Engineer in the R&D division at ESDS Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. He is passionate about system administration and is a fanatic for Linux/Unix tools and technologies, System Automation, Virtualization, and Cloud Stack. His foremost focus at ESDS is tuning the performance of eNlight 360 cloud and its services.
Kiran Aher

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