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What Is Object Storage and How Can It Protect Your Data?

Object storage is a cloud-based solution that helps your company store, retrieve, and manage large volumes of data.

Object storage enables companies to manage large amounts of unstructured data with simplicity, advanced organization, and scalability. Understand what object storage is, how it works, and its benefits.

What Is Object Storage?  

Cloud-object storage is a resource for organizing and managing massive amounts of unstructured data. 

Compared to traditional file and block-based storage systems, object storage delivers a simpler, more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective approach to retaining unstructured—and highly valuable—data. 

How Is Object Storage Used? 

This storage model is especially well suited to manage the rapidly growing volumes of unstructured data that will soon account for more than 80% of all data, according to IDC. Unstructured data includes all types of raw data originating from myriad sources, including:  

  • Factory sensors 
  • Smart cars 
  • Mobile devices 
  • Search engines 
  • Social media 
  • Audio- 
  • Video 
  • Photo 
  • PDFs, emails, and other electronic documentation 

Basically, the object storage approach can handle anything that is not intrinsically part of a relational database or structured file system.  

How Object Storage Works 

Object storage treats discrete units of data as objects that can be stored in their native data format. Self-contained cloud objects contain three components:  

  • Data object 
  • Descriptive metadata 
  • Unique identifier that allows application programming interfaces (APIs) to find and retrieve stored data 

These objects require no relation to one another, meaning there's no need for the complex data hierarchies, folders, and directories found with file-based systems. This approach makes cloud-object storage ideal for unstructured data that doesn’t naturally lend itself to the relational-storage requirements of row-and-column databases. 

Access to objects is governed by APIs. Using HTTP-based RESTful APIs, objects in the cloud can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Common commands such as PUT, POST, GET, and DELETE allow users with the appropriate permissions to easily manage cloud-object storage on demand. 

While object storage can be used across any IT framework, including local databases, hybrid clouds, and true multi-cloud environments, the volume and variety of data now created by companies daily often makes cloud storage more cost effective. This allows companies to infinitely expand their data storage infrastructure.  

Cloud-Object Storage: How It Compares 

Object storage is the newest advancement from its traditional counterparts in data storage: file-and-block storage. Understanding how object storage compares will provide a clearer picture of its advantages and capabilities for adding efficiency to the way businesses store data. Some areas where cloud storage as a service comes out on top include:  

Object Storage vs. File Storage 

File-based storage relies on a relational model that creates hierarchical connections between pieces of structured data, such as spreadsheets or SQL databases. While it remains a familiar and functional option for on-premises storage, it isn’t the best option for large amounts of data.  

Object Storage 

File Storage 

Best for large amounts of data and content 

Best for smaller amounts of data and content 

Data migration, transfers, and sharing can be done easily across multiple regions 

Data is best preserved and more easily managed when shared locally 

Scalable as a business grows and obtains more data and content  

Scalability limits 

Customizable metadata with no limits on tags in order to properly organize data 

No customizable metadata with limits on tags  

 Object Storage vs. Block Storage 

Block-based storage, also called block-level storage, uses cloud-based storage or storage area networks (SANs) to deliver simple and scalable data storage. Data is broken into equally sized blocks, with each block stored separately and assigned a unique identifier. This approach allows stored blocks to be decoupled from specific user environments. Rather, blocks can be stored and accessed from anywhere by using the assigned identifier. 

Object Storage 

Block Storage 

Best for highstream throughput; Fast and easy 

Best for transactional data 

Data migration, transfers, and sharing can be done easily across multiple regions.  

Speed of data sharing or migration lags as the distance between the storage and the application recipient grows  

Infinitely scalable 

Scalability limits 

High-organizational capacity helps data be identified and retrieved with efficiency 

No metadata and low organization 

Cloud-object storage takes a different approach. Objects are stored in their native formats regardless of origin, size, or type. While objects come with unique identifiers like those used in block storage, they include descriptive metadata which adds context to stored content. 

While object identifiers remain static, metadata can be edited as needed to ensure object descriptions and details remain up to date. 

Object-Based Storage Architecture 

Simplicity 

Object storage delivers maximum efficiency for data collection, migration, and access, with optimal ease. Its format is designed to be easy –to use, implement, and maintain.  

Programmability 

Developers working with object storage can perform actions on data lakes, storage pools, and other big data collections programmatically. Customizable metadata makes identifying and retrieving data easy, even when stored in large data lakes.  

Cloud-Like Consumption 

Object-storage solutions scale with a business according to the amount of storage and services used. Its structure is designed to only charge for storage used.  

Key Benefits of Cloud-Object Storage 

S3 Supported 

Amazon S3 is an object-storage service compatible with Seagate storage solutions. Amazon S3 provides enterprises with the ability to organize mass amounts of data, provide added security to important pieces of data, and manage data lakes. The offering scales alongside your data needs, delivering flexible S3 pricing that only charges you for what you use.  

 Seagate’s Lyve Cloud storage provides additional data mobility.   

Composability  

Object-storage solutions facilitate the shift to composable cloud infrastructure thanks to their self-contained data storage approach. As companies deploy pools of virtualized, composable resources in real time, objects can be easily accessed, moved, or replicated to improve overall IT performance. 

Metadata Customization 

Cloud-object storage allows complete customization of metadata, reducing the time required to identify specific data assets. While block storage relies on knowledge of the correct identifier to locate key data, cloud-object storage’s use of descriptive metadata makes it possible to implement keyword-based object search functions. 

New object storage solutions also offer open-source support to help streamline data management at scale. Instead of relying on proprietary storage architectures that compel companies to select specific providers, open-source offerings make it possible to customize storage frameworks, so they meet current needs and evolve alongside expanding IT environments. 

Continuity  

By moving object storage to the cloud, companies gain data continuity predicated on consistent availability and massive scalability. No matter where, when, or how businesses need to access their data, cloud-object storage makes it possible. In the case of an emergency, ransomware attack, or other disaster that may impact data, object-storage devices can be easily aggregated into larger pools or duplicated across multiple cloud environments with no loss of fidelity to provide consistent access anywhere, anytime.  

Prioritize building out an established cloud storage disaster recovery plan, so you can further protect vital data necessary to your enterprise’s overall function.   

Compliance 

No matter how or where data is stored—whether onsite, in co-located data centers or in the cloud—companies are responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance. Using onsite file-based storage requires organizations to invest in both local information security (infosec) personnel and scalable technologies needed to protect expanding data sources. 

In partnership with trusted cloud providers, object storage instances can be protected by advanced encryption and aligned with relevant security regulations, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, FISMA, and GDPR, to streamline storage compliance.  

Cost Management  

Cloud-based object storage services typically leverage pay-per-use pricing models that allow companies to precisely manage storage spend and reduce the risk of sprawl. With no upfront costs for hardware, companies can reduce CapEx spend and instead focus on efficient use of OpEx investments to maximize storage at scale.