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Even though object storage has been around for a while, it hasn’t grown in awareness and popularity until recently. But what is it?
Object storage, also known as object-based storage, is a cloud storage system that views data as objects, rather than a file (file system storage) or blocks within a sector (block storage). It can be implemented at multiple levels, including the system, interface and device level. Unlike block storage, which splits files into, well, blocks of raw data, with object storage, entire packets of data are bundled together into objects.
What’s great about object storage is that it gives you more information about your data at a glance. Not only is the data included in the object, but more comprehensive, user-determined metadata (different from file storage metadata) and a globally unique identifier are part of it as well, allowing the user to fetch the object without needing to know its physical location, much like a coat checker retrieves your coat for you when you hand him your ticket.
Another useful feature of object storage is that it spans across any geography. Unlike file or block level storage, which are best used locally, object storage is addressed in a flat space and each object is treated equally. Object storage puts every object in the same level, rather than a hierarchy that puts one object inside another. This flatness of space allows for scalable storage that is easier than ever before. In fact, many major cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google use object storage in their clouds.
Object storage has high durability as well. Durability measures how unlikely it is that an object could get lost or deleted. The higher the durability (measured in nines), the less likely your object is to get lost.
However, there are some downsides to this type of storage. If you make frequent changes to your data, then object storage may not be the best option for you. This is because its lack of granularity can have an impact on performance. With object storage, the units are treated as a whole rather than the sum of their parts. If you want to fix something within the unit, you must take apart the whole object, fix what you need, re-bundle it, and then replicate it as needed. Doing that can take time and negatively affect the overall performance of your application. If you have storage needs that involve data that does not need many changes, such as backups, images or audio files, then object storage is a great choice for you.
Object storage can be a great way to store your data and can make your cloud storage solutions even simpler and more scalable than ever. If you’re looking to move to the cloud, you might want to consider object storage as the system you implement for your data. You can read more about object storage here.
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