What is Object Storage System


The majority of modern enterprises collect and process large amounts of data. All this information needs to be stored somewhere. Object cloud storage helps to cope with the ever-increasing volume of data. It is one of the most efficient solutions available today. In this article, we will tell you how object storage differs from other types of storage and for which information it is best suited.

What is S3 object storage?

In simple terms, it is a storage for unstructured data. Scalability is the reason why object storage is essentially a cloud service. Unlike the addressing hierarchy used in traditional file storage, object storage uses a flat file system i.e. without the directory tree. Therefore, it provides limitless scale – object storage is capable of storing huge amounts of unstructured data such as audio, video, email, medical records, and documents.

Data of various formats and volumes are stored as objects with metadata. Each object has a unique identifier through which applications find and access the data. This greatly simplifies the system's operation. 

It is easier to understand object storage benefits when comparing it to other solutions – file and block storage.

File storage

Stores data in folders. The file system is based on a hierarchical structure: the root record, from which the data about files and their attributes are derived. All of them are organized into a convenient directory structure. The file uploaded to the cloud is given a name and everyone who knows it can access the file.

There are two types of file storage: physical and virtual. In the first case, data is stored on the hard drive, in the second - on a virtual one. Virtual storage has a much larger volume, and you can also set up remote access there. Examples of such storage include Dropbox, Google Drive, Yandex. Disk and other similar services.

Advantages

  • Simple structure.
  • Easy navigation and documents search. 

Disadvantages:

  • Limited capacity, as it fills up, the access speed and the performance falls.
  • Suitable for small amounts of different data.

Block storage 

These solutions are used for processing arrays of information requiring complex calculations, for hosting ERP systems, and corporate databases, i.e. for frequently overwritten data. In block storage, downloaded data is split into several chunks of the same size and then is written to a disk. A similar solution is often used in virtualization. Each virtual server gets its own storage, which guarantees high performance. Block storages are convenient for both users and applications because they offer low latency and easy access rights setup.

Advantages:

  • Each user environment is separate, allowing data to be sorted and accessed independently.
  • Block storage provides increased performance: thanks to the host bus adapter, which offloads the CPU and frees its resources for other tasks. 

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive, and more complex to manage because dealing with blocks adds extra load to the database.  
  • Limited in size.

Why use S3 Object Storage?

Object storage ensures a high speed of processing large amounts of data and thousands of objects. This type of storage does not involve users working directly, access to data is organized at the application level using APIs.

Usually, object storage is used for backup and archiving critical data. The most common storage objects include static content (images, video, audio, JS, and CSS files), system archives and backups, corporate, mobile, and web application data (images, software updates), electronic document management.

Among the users are design and development companies, game portals, news agencies, organizations that provide media content to a wide audience, marketplaces, social networks, educational institutions, and many others with large data sets.

Advantages:

  • Scalability. Since object addresses are stored as references rather than names, the system is easily scalable. It is unlimited in size and can contain any amount of data.
  • No hierarchy. This ensures that there are no bottlenecks tending to arise with complex multi-tiered catalog systems.
  • Data integrity is preserved through replication and updates, resulting in no system downtime.
  • Fault tolerance. Object storage is typically provided by cloud providers who use high-reliability Tier III data centers with fault-tolerant infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted data access.

Disadvantages:

  • Applications addressing object storage often require customization because, as a rule, object APIs are initially as simple as possible and do not meet the standard requirements for managing data from storage.
  • Object storage services are not suitable to support a traditional database because of the high latency of such services
  • You cannot change a part of a data block, you must read and write the whole object at once.
  • There can be problems with the compatibility of file system tools (e.g., utilities) with object storage systems. They require the organization of several intermediate layers in order to work together.
  • Object storage is not suitable for all types of data. The most suitable objects are media data and web content.

S3 Object storage allows storing any type of data in its original form, provides fast scalability, and optimizes resource consumption. This solution makes an organization's infrastructure more fault-tolerant and efficient, provides reliable and long-term storage of unlimited amounts of data and files with access to them via the Internet from anywhere in the world.

 

 


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author: Daria Kravtsova
published: 11/29/2021
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