We covered the basics in our previous blogs. We already know what storage is, why everybody needs it, and what to consider when picking one for yourself. Now it’s time to get technical. What do you say?

Object Storage: Definition & How Does it Work

Object storage (also known as object-based storage) is a storage solution that manages data as “objects.” Object storage operates across various layers, such as the device, system, and interface. It houses vast volumes of unstructured data but manages to keep everything accessible. Each object contains data with separately attached customizable metadata and a unique identifier.

All large volumes can be broken down into objects and stored within a single giant repository purposed to distribute data across multiple physical storage devices. Anything can be an object, including audio, video, emails, health records, documents – well, you name it.

Cool, right?

Due to its unique specifics, object-based storage is the only choice for cloud storage. Ever wonder what industry moguls like Amazon, Google, or Microsoft employ as their primary storage type? If you have used them, you already know.

It’s object storage.

Block Storage vs. File Storage vs. Object Storage

To understand what sets object-based storage apart, let’s look more closely and examine the main features the alternative storage types can offer. Each storage type naturally has its benefits and shortcomings, and the customers’ choice should always be based on their needs and how storage can address those needs.

 

Block Storage

Block Storage

File Storage

File Storage

File Storage

Object Storage

Transport NVMe-oF, NVMe over TCP, Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), or iSCSI. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or IP. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or IP.
Interface Despite its obvious advantages in terms of performance and reliability, you’ll need a SAN for block storage to work. File storage needs common file-level protocols such as Network File System (NFS), Common Internet File System (CIFS), or Server Message Block (SMB). Use HTTP or REST APIs for accessing and managing objects within a storage pool.
Use cases Low latency makes block storage a go-to option for unstructured data, making it popular in such cases as:

  • Storing Databases
  • Server Storage
  • Email Servers
File storage is extremely familiar and easy to use. Thanks to good performance, simplified files sharing, and global locking system, it is most useful for:

  • Managing Local Files
  • Documentation Collaboration
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery
The hit feature of object-based storage is probably the endless scalability that is very simple to achieve. Add the accessibility through LAN & WAN networks to the mix, and you get a solution perfect for:

  • Video Surveillance
  • Backup & Recovery
  • Media & Entertainment

 

Block storage generally means reliability and performance. File storage is much more familiar and recognizable, has a simple interface, and is easy to use.  On the other hand, object storage can offer rich, searchable metadata and unlimited scalability. It is much more friendly to the customer due to its affordability and ease of API integration.

Now that we have better-defined object storage and how it differs from its counterparts, it is time to break down the specifics and benefits of an object storage architecture.

Object-Based Storage Architecture

Storage Abstraction Layer

We already discussed one main difference that sets object storage apart: data volumes. Data volumes are maintained and managed as objects, not blocks or files. The descriptive properties of those objects make the format easy to use. Each object has a unique identifier, making addressing and identifying separate objects more manageable than other data formats. In particular, the object-based storage architecture separates the responsibilities of a system administrator from manual management operations such as the construction of logical volumes. This is achieved by applying the design principle built on abstracting the lowest storage level away from the applications.

Custom Metadata

Another vital characteristic of object storage is the capacity to utilize metadata fully. Other storage types usually employ fixed metadata. This is often limited to properties like names, dates, or file types. On the other hand, object-based storage strictly separates file metadata from data, opening the door for additional functionalities. For instance, object storage uses custom metadata within the object for data-management policies or to centralize storage management across multiple locations. More specifically, an object-based storage device can manage and maintain data at its level by using interface commands to create or delete objects, write/read to and from individual objects, and set attributes (metadata).

Programmability

Within object storage systems, apps can manage and manipulate data to query the required objects wherever they are stored. This is made possible thanks to programmatic interfaces, often an HTTP-based RESTful API. Most implementations are limited to essential read, write, and delete operations. Some extended the functionality to object replication, life-cycle management, etc.

Object Storage Benefits

Certain aspects of the object-based storage architecture expand the scope of its advantages beyond what file storage or block storage can offer. Let’s discuss some of the inherent benefits.

Scale-Out Design

Unlike competitors, object storage does not apply a hierarchy model to organize data. In particular, object storage presents you with a flat environment with equal access to all components. All you need to do to expand an object storage system is to add more storage to the environment. This yields near-infinite scalability with zero additional maintenance required.

Customizable Data Management

Thanks to the specifics of the architectural design, object-based storage enables applications to operate with more metadata than files or blocks. Due to its simple design, object storage can make data far more accessible than its counterparts. It makes locating files much faster, which can be vital for cutting-edge apps or AIs to take advantage of. Many organizations have seen serious boons in data management practices by adopting object storage, including even the most complicated healthcare and financial data structures.

Data Protection

Object-based storage solutions usually strip data across numerous nodes to get protection for a specific data type by utilizing or erasure coding in software. In practice, this means that instead of employing one single level of data protection within the whole storage environment, it is possible to adjust the protection level according to your needs in each specific case. Together with data replication, this makes for a reliable yet flexible data protection architecture.

Object Storage Solution

Admittedly, an attentive person may assume that even though object-based storage is excellent in many aspects, it’s unattainable for the general audience not using the cloud. Many have said that due to the significant drawbacks in performance inherent to traditional configurations, there is no way for object storage to be the best choice for a primary backup target.

That assumption is wrong.

What must be understood about object storage development is that it doesn’t stand still. As an up-and-coming technology, it is constantly being modified. That’s where we come in.

Object First is a primary backup target storage appliance with a usable capacity of up to half a petabyte.

Custom-made and explicitly tailored to leverage the new Veeam Backup & Recovery v12 Smart Object Storage Protocol API, which supports writing directly to object-based storage. Ransomware-proof and immutable out-of-the-box, Object First delivers simple, powerful, and affordable backup storage for Veeam.

In practical terms, one thing that sets us apart from other repository solutions is built-in immutability. Naturally, many vendors may claim immutability, but few can deliver. Adding immutability to the existing solution rarely works in the long run. Unlike the competition, Object First has immutability integrated as an inseparable part of its architecture.

Speed? That is not a problem. The supercharged Instant Recovery feature allows running workloads directly from the backup in literal minutes. With backup ingest speeds up to 4GB/s, it can significantly expedite the backup window. Developed with the customers’ comfort in mind, Object First makes sure to deliver every bit of fast performance you’re looking for.

Essentially, Object First presents a new chapter for object storage. Ransomware-proof and immutable out-of-the-box, Object First delivers simple, powerful, and affordable backup storage for Veeam. The solution can be racked, stacked, and installed in 15-minutes. Designed and optimized for maximum backup and recovery performance, Object First provides ingest speeds up to 4GB/s. Eliminate the need to sacrifice performance, availability, and recoverability requirements to meet budget constraints with Object First.

If you want to know more about Object First and how it can improve your environment, check out our product page.

5 Reasons Object First Is Best For Veeam

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