Object Storage – The Clear Choice for Scalability, Period
Storage solutions are continuously evolving to meet new application requirements and business demands. These days you can choose from a wide range of storage solutions (direct-attached storage, storage area network arrays, network-attached storage, cloud storage) and architectures (file-based, block-based, object-based).
But, unless you’re a storage expert, determining the best platform and architecture for a particular application can be a real challenge. Generally speaking, storage solutions come in three flavors: file-based, block-based and object-based. In this post, I’ll review each of these storage architectures and describe their most common use cases.
File Storage: Simple Solution for Basic Requirements
File-based storage is the simplest and oldest storage architecture. Commonly used with network-attached storage, file storage is based on a simple hierarchical architecture that mimics the way paper files are stored in manila folders. You give a file a name, tag it with some keywords, and place it into a directory. File storage is great for maintaining relatively small volumes of Word documents, PowerPoint presentations or Excel spreadsheets, but it isn’t well suited for large datasets or for more performance-intensive applications like Oracle databases or SAP ERP systems.
Block Storage: High Performance for Legacy Business Apps
Block storage was conceived to overcome the performance limitations and design constraints of traditional file storage architectures.
Originally used in storage area networks, block storage saves data in fixed-sized blocks called raw storage volumes. Each logical storage volume can appear as an individual hard drive to an external server operating system or application. An operating system then uses protocols like iSCSI, Fibre Channel, or Fibre Channel over Ethernet to access the storage volume(s).
Block storage is typically used for latency-sensitive legacy business applications like SQL databases. With a block-based approach, the external application has tight control over how storage is allocated, and can determine exactly how data is placed onto the volume. This granular level of control enables superior application performance, but it comes with a price: block storage is inherently expensive, and difficult to scale.
With a block architecture, the metadata containing information about a file (name, type, permissions, etc.) is stored and managed separately from the file itself, so it can be easily accessed by an external operating system or application. This approach works fine for moderately-sized datastores, but as the metadata repository (the tables where metadata is stored) grows, so do query times (table lookups take longer and longer), which can degrade application performance and impair user experiences.
Object Storage: Massive Scalability for Big Data and the Cloud
Object storage was designed from the ground up to meet the increased scalability and extensibility requirements of the cloud.
Object storage avoids the sizing limitations of hierarchical storage architectures by storing file data and metadata together in a single container with a unique, global identifier.
This flat address model enables massive scalability; you can retrieve an object from a global storage pool, quickly and efficiently, without navigating immense lookup tables or hierarchical data structures. And you can track, index and analyze data in place—without external software or databases.
Object storage was created with today’s cloud-based applications and services in mind. Unlike a block-based architecture with rigidly defined metadata, with an object-based approach you can customize metadata to support contemporary applications like big data analytics. Better still, developers can access data using modern REST APIs so object storage can be easily integrated into web-based applications and services (legacy block-storage protocols like Fibre Channel and iSCSI predate the web and aren’t web developer-friendly).
Flexible, scalable and extensible, object storage is ideal for a wide variety of use cases, including:
- Unstructured data (video, images, music, etc.)
- Big Data (IoT, research, financial, medical etc.)
- Web apps (cloud-based applications and services)
- Backup (data protection and disaster recovery)
- Archiving (data offload, retention and compliance)
Wasabi is Fast and Cost-Effective Cloud Object Storage for Any Application
Wasabi hot cloud storage is an affordable, fast and simple cloud object storage service, for any purpose. Unlike legacy cloud storage services with confusing storage tiers and complex pricing schemes, Wasabi offers a single product, with predictable and straightforward pricing that satisfies nearly all cloud storage requirements. Wasabi is 1/5th the price and up to 6x the speed of Amazon S3, with no fees for egress or API requests.
To learn how Wasabi can help your company eliminate cloud storage cost and complexity please contact us today.