Object Storage from Dusk ‘till Dawn

Who said storage is boring? I’m not lying when I’m writing that I’m on my way to a place in the desert, far away from regular society, for a secret meeting with the Top Guns of the Cloud & Web Industry. I’m one of a select group of Object Storage visionaries who have been invited to meet the industry’s greatest, listen to their challenges and teach them how object storage – when done well – can solve all of their problems.

There is no arguing that object storage is currently the most watched storage paradigm. Object storage is potentially an even more important evolution than virtualization and cloud computing were 5 years ago: it’s about data, information, companies’ most valuable assets. The challenge of building Exabyte-size storage clouds is no longer just a concern for Facebook, Google and Amazon.

The concept of object storage is not new: there have been several object storage architectures in the past, and AWS S3 was actually the first offering of AWS, even before EC2. The problem is all of this gave object storage a bad name because it wasn’t done right. Consequently, today, object storage is primarily seen as slow storage.

Digital data continues to double every two years. Over 80% of that data is unstructured. As a result, cost-efficient high-performance storage for massive volumes of unstructured data is the holy grail of the storage industry. Many storage companies are trying to solve this challenge, but most are approaching the problem from the wrong angle, data protection, and are not digging deep enough to find the root of the problem: the file system. File-locking mechanisms make file-based storage complex and difficult to scale and the file system is mostly superfluous when storing massive amounts of unstructured data.

File based storage became the de facto storage architecture when office documents still formed the bulk of unstructured data. “Filers” were designed to keep data organized in hierarchic directory structures; locking mechanisms would prevent multiple users to access the same files – and corrupt the data.

But today, most unstructured data is immutable data, like photos and video recordings, and applications have become much better alternatives to keep data organized than directory structures. This is what object storage vendors need to leverage as only by taking away the file system and striving to pure object storage, you can meet all performance requirements scale out web application providers have.

I’m very much looking forward to learning more about what keeps cloud CTO’s awake today, which concerns they still have about object storage. I’ve been told I’ll be near territory where people disappear and are never found back, near desert ghost towns, and areas with trigger-happy people. Still I’m hoping to post some interesting insights in a next article though. I’ll make sure not to visit bars on desolate highways between Dusk & Dawn.

 

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~ by tomleyden on November 13, 2013.

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