Access and Feeds

Storage: Object Storage to Optimize Storage for File Sharing, Backups and Archiving

By Dick Weisinger

Object storage is a storage architecture that manages data as objects.  It is an alternative data storage method to standard block storage systems that store data across blocks, sectors and tracks.  Each object includes the data itself, metadata and a global identifier.  Object storage is much simpler, easier to use and is generally much cheaper than block-based storage.

Object Storage is particularly well suited for handling large data collections and unstructured files.  Object storage is used by applications like file sharing, backups and archiving.  Dropbox, Amazon S3 and Google’s Picasa are good examples of applications using it.  One reason why object storage excels at this kind of data is that large data often doesn’t fit well into a hierarchical filing system.

Object storage systems include Web Object Scaler from DataDirect Networks, Atmos and Centera from EMC, sdNET from IBM’s Cleversafe, and the RING from Scality.  Open Source alternatives include Swift object storage in the OpenStack cloud controller and Ceph by Red Hat.

Robert Novak, technologist at HP, said that  “contrary to most popular opinions, object storage can actually outperform block storage. In a block storage paradigm, the block storage has gone through a gradual shift in what makes for the fastest access to data.”


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