What is Object storage and what are its benefits?

Traditional file server infrastructure is slowly getting extinct and that’s due to the fact that the necessities of data access have changed in recent times. Factually speaking, file servers were designed in an era where most employees were in a single location. But now, due to a change in work culture many organizations are having employees all over the world. Thus, data has become a product for many organizations which the standard file servers’ cannot deal with.

This is where object storage shows its prevalence as it helps in organizing the way data is written to a storage system. To understand this concept further, first let’s take a look on how file data was stored from decades. The file data was stored in a Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) file system all these days. POSIX is a family of standards specified by the IEEE computer society. It acts as a means of organizing the way data is written to a storage system. Within it, data is organized by a series of volumes, directories, and sub directories. POSIX stores info about the data, known as metadata and this info includes details such as data creation date, date changed, hierarchy and archive status.

Object storage also functions in a similar manner, but specifically in a more innovative way. Data is written into self contained entities called objects. An object is similar to a file. But unlike a POSIX file system, an object storage system gives each object a unique ID, which is managed in a flat index. Whenever, a user or application needs access to a file, they provide the object storage system with the unique ID. This flat index provides greater scalability, enabling an object storage system to support faster access to a much higher quantity of objects or files as compared to most POSIX based NAS counterparts.

The flat organizational structure also enables object storage to provide a much richer metadata component for the object. Most object storage systems, in addition to date created and date modified information, can store expiration dates, object protection requirements as well as descriptive tagging about the objects they store.

As object storage is often software defined it can leverage commodity servers and storage. So, IT admins can add additional storage nodes as per the capacity demand.

These solutions are ideal for environments where data has to be stored for a long period of time. And the data can be data that is large per object like video, image and audio. It can also be big data like info from sensors and IoT devices.

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