These challenges demand a smarter approach (object storage) that allows to manage data growth at low cost, provides extensive metadata capabilities, and also provides massive scalability to keep up with the rapidly growing data storage and access demands.
Object storage is a new type of storage system designed for cloud-scale scalability. Objects are stored and retrieved from an object store through the web-based APIs such as REST and SOAP. Each object can be linked with extensive metadata that can be searched and indexed. Object storage is ideal for rich content data that does not change often and does not require high performance. It is popular in the public cloud model.
Object-based Storage Overview
Object-based storage device stores data in the form of objects on flat address space based on its content and other attributes rather than the name and the location. An object is the fundamental unit of object-based storage that contains user data, related metadata (size, date, ownership, etc.), and user defined attributes of data (retention, access pattern, and other business-relevant attributes).
Unlike SAN and NAS, applications do not know the location of the object stored. With object storage, the application creates some data and give it to the OSD in exchange for a unique object id (OID). The application which created the data does not need to know where the object is stored as long as it is protected and returned whenever the application needed it.
For example, Consider a traditional car parking in any shopping mall or restaurant. It is your responsibility to remember where you have parked your car in the huge parking area. But now a days we have Valet parking, you just need to give your keys and you will have no idea where your car will be parked and they will bring it back to you when you needed it. Similarly in Object storage, the application will not know the location of the object but it can get it whenever it is needed.
Components of Object based Storage Device
The OSD system is typically composed of three key components: Controllers, internal network, and storage.
Difference between Objects, Files and Blocks
With the adoptation of Cloud in the organizations, object based storage is predominantly intended for cloud-scale and cloud-use cases as well as designed to be accessed via RESTful APIs. If we were to compare object storage to SAN or NAS storage, it would probably be fair to say that object storage has more in common with NAS than SAN. This is mainly because objects are more like files than they are blocks. In fact, it could be said that in many cases files are objects, and objects are files. However, there are several key differences between an object storage device (OSD) and a NAS system.
Additionally, Objects don’t always have human-friendly names. They are often identified by complex long (for example, 64-bit) unique identifiers that are derived from the content of the object plus some arbitrary hashing scheme. Next, objects are stored in a single, large, flat namespace. Flat means that there is no hierarchy or tree structure as there is with a traditional filesystem. This flat namespace is a key factor in the massive scalability inherent in object storage systems. Even scale-out NAS systems, with the massive petabyte-scale filesystems, limit the number of files in either the filesystem or individual directories within the filesystem.
Another key difference between object storage and NAS is that object storage devices are not usually mounted over the network like NAS filesystems using NFS and SMB/CIFS. Object storage devices are accessed through APIs suchas REST, SOAP and XAM.
Object storage is not designed for high-performance and high-change requirements, nor is it designed for storage of structured data such as databases. This is because object storage often doesn’t allow updates in place. It is also not necessarily the best choice for data that changes a lot. What it is great for is storage and retrieval of rich media and other Web 2.0 types of content such as photos, videos, audio, and other documents.
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