IT professionals dealing with data storage environments might at one point of the time scratch their heads over the business value offered by block storage vs. object storage. In other words, what problems do these storage variants solve? What are their drawbacks and limitations? Which types of applications run better, what breaks, and what they need to completely redesign to take the advantage of the storage technology?
In this article, we will throw some light on what exactly block and object storage is and their use cases.
Object Storage- Object based storage, shortly known as object storage is a general term that refers to the way in which one organize and work with units of storage, called objects. Every object contains three informative things and that is the data which can be anything from a photo to a document file; Meta data which tells us the information about who created the data, the data containing it, its confidentiality and such; the third is a globally unique identifier- an address given to the object in order to locate it over a distributed file system. It helps in finding the data without having to know the physical location of the data.
However, object storage generally doesn’t provide you with the ability to incrementally edit one part of a file. Objects have to be manipulated as a whole unit, requiring the entire object to be accessed, updated, and then re-written in their entirety. That can have performance implications.
Use case of Object Storage- If the need is to deal with large amounts of user generated media, using Object storage is ideal. As data stores scale to hundreds of terabytes and then into the Petabytes range and beyond, object storage becomes even more attractive.
- This Storage can be used to store unstructured data like music, image, and video files.
- It is ideal to be used as backup files database dumps, and log files.
- Large data sets can be stored as objects. Whether the data is related to pharmaceutical or finance, or multimedia files such as photos and videos, object storage can be used as a big data dump.
- Environments involving object storage can archive files in place of local tape drives. Media assets such as video footage can be stored in object storage and archived to glacier.
- Once written, an object can be read by many clients at once. So, for just writing it at once, and having it read many times by many machines in the near and far future, object storage can help implement that pattern. Thus, educational institutes offering online courses can take the help of object storage environments
Block Storage- With block storage, files are split into evenly sized blocks of data, each with its own address but with no additional information (metadata) to provide more contexts for what that block of data are. This type of storage is used in the majority of enterprise workloads and has a wide variety of uses. And that is because block level storage devices are accessible as volumes and can be accessed directly by the operating system. So, it guarantees that the data will not be lost.
Object storage data can be replicated across different data centers and offers simple web services interfaces for access as these storage devices are typically are formatted with a file system like FAT32, NTFS, EXT3, and EXT4.
Use case of Block storage- This storage is ideal to be used for databases, since a database requires consistent IO performance and low-latency connectivity.
- One can use block storage for RAID Volumes, where you combine multiple disks organized through stripping or mirroring.
- Any application which requires service side processing, like Java, PHP, and .Net will require block storage.
- Running mission-critical applications like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft SharePoint.
- This storage can be either be locally attached, or can be network attached in a SAN working with a network protocol such as iSCSI.
Both Object and Block storage have unique advantages and limitations. Understanding the use cases and costs associated with each medium will help you get the best out of your investment.