Object Data Storage rises to meet changing demands

For a number of businesses, working out how to store and access the vast data sets at their disposal in a cost effective way is a challenge.

Object data storage is an alternative solution that manages data as objects, as opposed to other storage architectures, such as file systems, which manage data as a file hierarchy, and block storage, which manages data as blocks within sectors and tracks.

We spoke to Phil Bindley, CTO at The Bunker, to discuss object data storage and the benefits this can bring organisations.

1. What is object data storage?

Object data storage describes an approach to addressing and manipulating discrete units of storage, or ‘objects’. The approach replaces traditional file system hierarchies with a flat access structure, or a storage pool, which provides the foundation for addressing hugely scalable unstructured data sets.

Object storage allows extended metadata to be attached to each object, enabling search queries to interrogate all available data, not just a fraction of what is available. Most importantly, as businesses change and grow, storage technologies have to adapt to keep pace, scaling up and down on demand. Rather than get locked into a vendor or a costly service, a consumption model allows businesses to only pay for the data storage they use.

2. What have been the challenges facing the technology?

While object-based storage has advantages in scalability and rapid data retrieval over standard storage, the approach isn’t suitable for all data sets or applications. For example, it’s not possible to achieve the low level of latency required for high performance and resource-intensive applications, such as CRM tools and video.

It is, however, a good option where hugely scalable archival storage is required. It is also an alternative for data archiving to tape or optical disk, which may lack the speed and scalability required by many organisations today.

3. What are the advantages over public cloud?

Organisations are seeing exponential growth in file content and increasing data volumes from mobile applications, which means they cannot keep buying disc at the rate at which it’s being consumed. Although the Public Cloud has long been acknowledged as the most scalable and cost-effective answer for tackling storage needs, fundamental flaws in terms of limited security and lack of the controls necessary for compliance and assurance mean businesses are reticent to entrust sensitive data to Cloud-based services.

A consolidated, hybrid storage solution that combines on-premise SAN with a single pool of highly secure, cloud-based backup and archive data housed in UK data centres and allows IT staff to quickly and effectively access, retrieve and restore data will be essential. It also eliminates the risk of corruption of the data and disks, or obsolescence of tape storage media.

4. How will businesses benefit from the adoption of object data storage?

For many businesses, working out how to store and access the vast data sets at their disposal in a cost effective way is a challenge. While important to the business, managing and archiving this often seldom-used data using traditional storage techniques is an expensive and time-consuming pursuit.

Object data storage is a viable alternative. This self-healing technology offers unprecedented flexibility, infinite capacity and limitless scalability – slashing costs by reducing the need for duplication, and freeing businesses from the straitjacket that traditional data storage has become.

5. Which sectors are embracing the technology?

Larger enterprises and those organisations with big data analytics projects have fast embraced the technology, but to date, we have seen limited penetration in the small and medium sized businesses (SME) space.

However, with businesses of all sizes seeking to take advantage of the vast amounts of data at their disposal, I’d expect to see more instances of SMEs turning to object data storage in the near future.

We have been speaking about big data for some time and while businesses largely recognise the value of big data, up until very recently it has been the reserve of only the largest enterprises with enough up front capital to invest in the compute resources needed to power them. Object storage, which avoids the need for big capital investments, effectively democratises big data and lowers the barriers to entry for SMEs looking to exploit their data sets.

6. Where will the consumption model be in five years?

Tackling the problem of unstructured data is one of the biggest challenges facing IT departments and CIOs today and, with data growing exponentially, this challenge will only increase. Those businesses that can harness this deluge of data and turn it to their advantage stand to make considerable gains, so I expect take-up of object storage to continue for the foreseeable future.

However, security headaches will only intensify over the next five years. Data is an increasingly valuable commodity and a core target for fraudsters and criminals. With that being the case, a belt and braces approach to securing that data is critical.

Image source: Shutterstock/Carlos Amarillo