Caringo recently provided us with some excellent advice about cloud storage environments. According to the company, "Cloud storage has changed the rules for deploying simpler, infinitely scalable, and more affordable storage. So it makes little sense to burden a cloud storage platform with storage systems that are based on 20th century file systems that inhibit administration, scalability and cost."
Choosing the right underlying storage system can significantly affect the success or failure of your implementation of cloud storage. "Object storage is ideally aligned with a cloud storage infrastructure, delivering a superior cloud storage experience with better scalability, accessibility and affordability."
Here are five reasons—according to Caringo—why an object storage infrastructure should be the foundation for your cloud storage system.
A key to the cost efficiency delivered by cloud storage is to begin with an affordable storage system. The complexities and restrictions of outmoded file systems that power traditional NAS and SAN storage arrays can easily offset the potential cost savings of cloud storage by complicating storage administration, limiting scalability with artificial capacity caps and enforcing vendor lock-in with expensive, proprietary hardware.
Object storage is a much better fit for cloud infrastructures. Instead of using a complex, difficult-to-manage, antiquated file system, object storage systems leverage a single flat address space that enables the automatic routing of data to the right storage systems, specifies the content lifecycle, and keeps both active and archive data in a single tier with the appropriate protection levels. This allows object storage to provide better value by aligning the value of data and the cost of storing it without requiring oppressive management overhead to manually move data to the proper tier while providing infinite scalability to support the capacity-on-demand capability of cloud storage. Object storage is also designed to run at peak efficiency on commodity server hardware.
Cloud storage is commonly delivered as a Storage as a Service (SaaS) application via the Internet, so using HTTP as the primary protocol to access object storage pools vastly simplifies the process for cloud storage providers to integrate object storage systems into their service offerings.
In object storage systems, there is no directory hierarchy (or “tree”) and the object’s location does not have to be specified the way a file’s directory path has to be known to retrieve it. This location transparency enables object storage systems to scale to petabytes and beyond without limits on the number of files (objects), file size, or file system capacity, such as the 2TB restriction that is common for Windows and Linux file systems.
In an object storage cluster, performance scales linearly as more nodes are added. As new server nodes running on commodity hardware come online, they provide massively parallel increases in both processing and I/O capacity across the cluster. Additionally, the object storage cluster is totally symmetrical, allowing the workload to be automatically load-balanced across all nodes in the cluster and avoiding hot-spots to better support cloud-bursting and other peak-demand events.
In a cloud storage system, the old paradigm of data protection via backup and recovery is eliminated as the entire object storage cluster is an online, scalable file repository—not a backup or offline archive solution. All files are always online and available, doing away with the cost and administrative overhead of a separate backup application with no more worries about meeting backup windows or recovery time objectives.
Cloud storage is changing the way companies think about storage in an era of runaway capacity growth of unstructured data by enabling capacity-on-demand and other benefits. Similarly, object storage is changing the way companies think about storage systems, eliminating outdated concepts that are longer viable in an era of cloud-based storage environments with multi-petabyte capacities. The scalability, simplicity, and accessibility of object storage are perfectly aligned with the requirements and benefits of cloud storage, making object storage an essential consideration for any IT organization or service provider that is considering building public, private, or enterprise clouds.