TECHNOLOGY

What Makes Wasabi Cloud Object Storage Different? 

July 20, 2023By Ben Bonadies

The volume of data we need to store started to explode in the 1990s, driven by the rise of the internet and rich media. At the time, makers of storage solutions realized that block storage and file storage, the predominant modes of storage, were no longer adequate to the workload. Instead, people like Garth Gibson, a computer scientist from Carnegie Mellon University, put forward the idea of changing the way systems stored data—separating less common operations from common ones, and abstracting data reads/writes into more flexible objects.  

This was the birth of object storage, which emerged in product form by the end of the decade. Innovation has proceeded at a brisk pace ever since. We now have cloud object storage, which offers many benefits, particularly for unstructured data. This article discusses what cloud object storage is and how it benefits users. It also delves into how Wasabi’s cloud object storage offers distinct value for customers. 

 

What is cloud object storage?  

Sometimes called object-based storage, object storage is an approach to storage that treats collections of data as objects—as opposed to files or blocks of storage space on a device. Indeed, one of the best ways to understand object storage is to contrast it with file storage and block storage architectures. 

An object contains the data itself, along with a small amount of metadata and a unique object identifier. Object storage keeps these parts of a file together as an object, bound up with metadata. It is possible to implement object storage on different levels, such as at the device level, the system level, and the interface level. Today it is most commonly found at the cloud level.  

With cloud object storage, storage admins can take advantage of interfaces that are directly programmable by application. They can work with namespaces that bridge different instances of storage hardware, as well as data management tasks like replication, which are done at a level of granularity that matches the object. 

How is object storage different from block and file storage?  

Cloud object storage differs from block and file storage in several key ways: 

  • Cloud object storage vs. file storage—File storage works through folders and directories, similar to what users see in Windows’ “File Explorer.” Each file and folder have metadata revealing their dates of creation, sizes, and so forth. To locate a file, users must search for it and hope they find it. Object storage does not have this hierarchical organization. There are no directories or folders. When combined with object storage’s potentially richer, custom metadata, it becomes easier to manage and locate data.  

  • Cloud object storage vs. block storage—block-storage systems assign unique identifiers to each piece of raw data they handle. The technology reassembles these pieces into a complete file when it’s needed by a user. The result is improved performance versus file storage. This approach is well-suited for large volumes of transactional data where high performance is required. Conversely, object storage is not a good candidate for this type of data. However, block storage has limited metadata capabilities. It can also be costlier than file or object storage, as it requires specialized software to run.

Common object storage use cases 

Cloud object storage has a wide variety of use cases. It’s commonly used for static website hosting, for example, as well as for storing website files. Cloud object storage is a good fit for media content, such as images, audio, and video files.  

Storing unstructured data is one of the most common use cases for object storage. Unstructured data comprises documents and other types of data that are not held in a structured database. Big data, such as data in a data lake, is a form of unstructured data that fits well with object storage capabilities. 

Object storage is commonly used for: 

The benefits of cloud object storage   

There are numerous benefits to cloud object storage, especially from a business perspective. Cloud object storage tends to be less costly on a per gigabyte basis than file or block storage. The savings comes partly from the ability to “pay as you go” for storage. Users only pays for their storage as they use it.  

Cloud object storage is renowned for being highly scalable. Its flat architecture is easier to scale out than those of file or block storage. Cloud object storage’s capacity is effectively infinite given the way it organizes data and the resources at hand. Users can spread “storage pools” out across more than one object storage device and location. The result is essentially unlimited scale, even for petabyte or exabyte loads. This architecture also lends itself to greater resiliency than is possible with other types of storage.  

The potential to customize metadata is another benefit of cloud object storage. Users can add contextual information to the data in storage, which may be useful for retrieval in workloads like data analytics. On a related front, cloud object storage lets users query object metadata and access objects using a variety of interfaces, such as RESTful APIs and HTTPS. Users do not require a separate application to search cloud object storage. When combined with the technology’s ability to form global storage pools, it becomes easier and faster to locate the data one needs.  

The elasticity and scalability of cloud object storage make it suitable for storing and managing unstructured data in the cloud. Additionally, the lack of file directories cuts out some of the complexity that comes with managing data storage, as there are no trees or partitions required to retrieve files.  

What makes Wasabi cloud object storage different?  

Wasabi offers cloud object storage with some notable differences from alternative solutions. Wasabi offers immutability at both the bucket and object level, which makes it impossible for a malicious actor to delete or modify data in Wasabi cloud object storage. Wasabi immutable storage buckets effectively mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks. They bolster backup and restore processes, as well as business continuity. 

Regarding performance, Wasabi works through a single, ultra-fast tier of cloud storage. Wasabi customers enjoy fast recovery time objects (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). Wasabi also makes it possible to extend on-premises virtual machines (VMs) and storage into the cloud within minutes.  

In economic terms, Wasabi offers a predictable pricing model. There are no fees for data egress or API requests. This policy can lead to significant savings when compared to AWS S3 and Microsoft Azure, among others. Users can instantly access their archived content without paying extra for egress.  

Conclusion 

Cloud object storage offers an attractive alternative to block and file-based storage architectures, especially for unstructured data. The technology is more elastic and scalable than file or block alternatives. It also tends to be more economical, given the potential to use commodity hardware and “pay as you go.” With the combination of predictable pricing, immutable buckets to protect against ransomware, and a single tier of high performance storage, Wasabi offers distinct value in the cloud object storage category.

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