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Evaluate object storage advantages and disadvantages

Object storage advantages include capacity and flexibility, while access time is one of the disadvantages. Compare key pros and cons of this trending type of storage.

Object storage has grown in popularity because it can accommodate huge amounts of different kinds of data, such as files, video and audio.

However, organizations should consider both object storage advantages and disadvantages before implementation.

Object storage advantages

In addition to the contained data, object storage uses metadata as a roadmap to all the elements stored within a bucket, which is a collection of files. An identifier helps users locate and access the object.

Object storage differs from file and block storage. File storage stores items as files, and the path name helps locate the file. Block storage organizes data into blocks that protocols can access.

Both file and block storage are ideal for use in data centers, especially in situations where organizations access, use and frequently update information. By contrast, object storage is a natural fit for cloud-based storage, as virtually unlimited storage capacity is available and organizations don't use the contents as often as in file and block storage.

Object storage advantages also include the ability to store all kinds and sizes of files within an object. This attribute is particularly important with large files, such as those used in data analytics.

It is ideal for extended storage (medium-term access), archiving (longer-term and infrequent use) and disaster recovery (accessing relevant data and systems in an emergency).

Figure of generic storage object
The amount of data within the object can be virtually unlimited, hence its use for analytics, archiving and disaster recovery.

Object storage is easily scalable as requirements dictate, and users can access it virtually anywhere, which are additional reasons it is ideal for cloud environments. Users can store copies of objects in multiple clouds for high availability and redundancy.

Object storage disadvantages

Object storage is not ideal for transactional data, where organizations frequently access, update, and store files and other resources. The processing time to locate a specific object may take longer than with block and file storage, which uses more network bandwidth.

Changes or revisions to an object necessitate the creation of a new object version that contains the changes. Changes made by multiple users to the same object result in multiple new versions, creating a challenge to decide which version is the most current and appropriate.

Advances in storage technology, especially for object storage, make it a viable choice for medium- to longer-term storage requirements.

Since objects are often stored in cloud environments, the issues associated with cloud management come into play. Security is a key concern, for example. In addition to encryption, objects need controls for access by tenants. Organizations need cloud-specific service-level agreements, especially regarding access and security. Also, consider costs associated with cloud storage.

Is object storage appropriate for your organization?

Advances in storage technology, especially for object storage, make it a viable choice for medium- to longer-term storage requirements. Access latency, a traditional challenge for object storage, continues to improve with advances in object storage protocols and storage systems, both on-site and cloud.

As with any storage platform, understand business requirements, and get management support before making a move. Know the current and longer-term storage trends in the organization.

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