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Storage Mastery: Object-Based Storage

Editor’s note: This is the ninth post in a blog series by CBT Nuggets trainer Anthony Sequeira that will cover IT storage technology. 

mastering_storage_series_EMAIL2More and more, data that we are asked to store for our organization is in the form of unstructured data. In fact, for many companies today, 90 percent of everything they are storing is unstructured. Remember, unstructured data refers to data in forms such as Word files, photos, text documents, and electronic journals — items that do not possess an organized structure. Compare this to data that is neatly tucked and described in a standards-based database system.

While Network Attached Storage traditionally was a great way for organizations to deal with data storage, this solution begins to buckle under the very heavy load of unstructured data.

Enter new technologies like object-based storage. Using this revolutionary approach, file data is stored in the form of objects based on content and other attributes, rather than file name and location. Object-based storage devices (OSDs) can excel at storing massive quantities of unstructured data objects.

Instead of using a complex, high overhead solution such as a filename and node system in a hierarchical file system, the object-based approach uses a flat address space to store a massive number of objects with far less overhead. This helps dramatically increase the overall number of objects that can be stored by the system.

The stored object might contain users’ data, metadata, and various attributes. All are stored efficiently in the object and assigned a unique Object ID from the flat address space. Object IDs are generated from specialized algorithms like hash functions that guarantee every object in the system can be uniquely identified.

The Benefits
Object-based storage solution benefits include:

  • Security and reliability. Request authentication can be performed at the storage device itself, rather than with an external authentication mechanism.
  • Platform independence. Because the objects contain with metadata and various attributes, data can be shared across heterogeneous platforms with ease. This is perfect for today’s cloud environments.
  • Scalability. Flat address space usage ensures massive storage capabilities with little to no performance impact.
  • Manageability. Objects become very simple to manage and protect.

While traditional NAS and SAN solutions can offer some of the various benefits described here, it is rare to find all of them in a single system.

Until next time, I hope you found this blog post informative, and I’d like to thank you for reading!


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