Object storage: data archiving in the age of the cloud, but not only

Written by charon
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Raw data passing through IT systems cannot always be stored in a structured way. But there is a solution particularly suited to the cloud: object storage.

With the rise of fields such as the cloud and artificial intelligence, large volumes of data are being generated, but the information is not always structured. To make it usable, however, there's a solution: object storage.

Alongside hierarchical (file-system) and block storage, object storage transforms raw data into objects comprising a unique identifier, metadata and the data itself.

Instead of a hierarchy, a horizontal organization is implemented, with data all at the same level. The advantage of this is that it is independent of the storage medium, which is an asset for cloud storage, and it enables objects to be contextualized by metadata in a richer way than is possible with file systems.

Metadata, the transmission belt

Metadata can not only facilitate the search and indexing of raw data, but also provide information on its management and protection. This is the lever that ensures the flexibility of object storage solutions.

The other strong point of object storage is the ability toaccess data simply and quickly, via HTTP or dedicated APIs, with a reduced set of commands.

Object storage solutions are offered by most cloud infrastructure providers, because they meet the need to collect large amounts of data from numerous sources.

This profusion of data makes the use of hierarchical systems very complex, with the risk of losing certain data sets or accessing them very slowly. Object storage has the advantage of removing these obstacles, while preserving the data's native format, and of being scalable, with the possibility of scaling resources to ensure the great flexibility of storage solutions at a cost that remains attractive compared with more rigid hierarchical systems.

Object Storage: many advantages, few drawbacks

An object storage system can be installed on site in a private cloud, or remotely in a public cloud, with the option of adding or removing storage as required.

Object storage is generally used as a cost-effective archiving, data backup or machine learning solution. Simple tools for managing these datasets can be used to bring datasets to life by classifying information or deleting obsolete data.

It is also possible to adapt this type of solution as a multimedia content distribution platform, providing access to all kinds of text, audio or video elements gathered in object storage.

On the other hand, it will be less suitable than other storage systems for dynamic data, or if data needs to be modified regularly, since new objects will have to be recreated. In principle, object storage is best suited to cold/static data.