What is object storage?
Object storage is an efficient way to store and manage large amounts of data for backup and archiving, data analytics, and more.
By Marlo Vernon
In an era driven by data, understanding how to store, manage, and leverage your information is imperative. Object storage, also known as object-based storage, is a modern storage architecture that manages data as distinct entities called objects stored in one large pool rather than a hierarchy of files within folders. Each object includes the data itself, a variable amount of metadata, and a globally unique identifier. This type of storage differs from traditional file or block storage systems that manage data as a hierarchy or as fixed-sized blocks of data within a specific storage volume.
In this article, we’ll explain how object storage works, how it differs from file and block storage, its use cases, and how to get started with a cost-effective object storage provider.
How object storage works
In object storage, data is bundled with relevant metadata into objects and stored in a flat organizational structure, often called a storage pool. The extensive metadata, along with the unique identifier, allows each object to be located and accessed directly without the need for a hierarchical path. This method makes object storage highly scalable, easy to manage, and efficient in handling vast amounts of unstructured data, making it a popular choice for cloud storage, big data analytics, and archiving.
What is a storage bucket?
A storage bucket serves as a container for objects (files, images, or any other piece of data). You can think of it as a top-level folder within an object storage framework. However, the data within is stored in a flat structure rather than a traditional hierarchy.
Buckets are globally unique within a storage system, meaning no two buckets can have the same name. This global namespace allows for direct access to an object without needing to know the physical location of the data. As a result, buckets can hold an unlimited number of objects. They can be used to store and manage data effectively, making them a valuable tool for applications that require large-scale, long-term storage.
File storage vs. block storage vs. object storage
Object storage, file storage, and block storage are all effective methods of storing data, but they each have distinct characteristics and use cases. While object storage treats data as individual objects with a unique identifier, file storage and block storage follow a location-based structure for data retrieval.
File storage manages data as a hierarchy of files in folders. It's similar to the file directory system on a typical computer. Data is organized and accessed based on its location or file path. This organization makes file storage intuitive and well-suited for human-accessible data, shared files, and document-oriented applications.
Block storage breaks up data into uniform-sized 'blocks,' each with a unique address. Unlike object storage and file storage, block storage has no metadata describing what the block contains. It's akin to a hard drive in a computer system. Block storage is excellent for low-latency, high-performance use cases like databases or high-transaction applications, as each block can be accessed and modified independently.
In essence, the choice between object, file, and block storage depends on the specific needs of your data environment, including factors like the type of data you're dealing with, performance requirements, and scalability needs. But since this post is all about object storage, let’s shine a spotlight on its specific benefits.
Benefits of object storage
Object storage offers several advantages over traditional storage solutions:
Object storage systems typically have lower costs per terabyte compared to traditional storage solutions, making them ideal for storing massive amounts of data.
Object storage systems are designed for high availability, ensuring data remains accessible even in the event of hardware failures or network issues.
Object storage supports many data types and use cases, including multimedia content, backups, archives, and big data analytics.
Because of its flat architecture, object storage is easily scalable. As long as there are enough devices, the storage size is essentially limitless.
Now that we understand object storage’s main benefits, let’s explore some of its use cases.
Object storage has gained popularity due to its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and ability to handle vast amounts of unstructured data. Below are some common use cases for object storage.
Multimedia content storage and delivery
Object storage is well-suited for storing and delivering large multimedia files, such as images, audio, and video, making it a popular choice for streaming services, content delivery networks, and media libraries.
Backup and archiving
Object storage's scalability and flat structure make it an ideal solution for long-term storage, including backups and archives. In addition, its ability to store extensive metadata allows for easy indexing and retrieval of data when needed.
Big data and analytics
Object storage can efficiently store and manage massive datasets generated by big data applications, IoT devices, and data analytics platforms. The associated metadata enables more in-depth data analysis and improves data retrieval efficiency.
As a fundamental component of many cloud storage systems, object storage provides a cost-effective and scalable solution for storing and managing data in the cloud. As a result, it's often used in both public and private cloud storage scenarios.
In summary, object storage is a versatile and robust data storage solution that addresses the needs of various applications, especially those involving large volumes of unstructured data or requiring easy scalability and efficient data management.
Select the right object storage solution for your needs
When choosing an object storage solution, it’s important to consider the following factors:
Evaluate the performance characteristics of the object storage system, including throughput, latency, and scalability, to ensure it meets your requirements.
Data durability and availability
Assess the data durability and availability guarantees offered by an object storage provider to ensure your data is protected and accessible when needed.
Ensure the object storage solution provides robust security features, such as encryption, access controls, and auditing, to protect your data from unauthorized access.
Ease of use
Choose an object storage solution that offers user-friendly management interfaces and APIs for seamless integration with your existing applications and services.
Compare the pricing models of different object storage providers, taking into account factors such as storage capacity, data transfer, and API request costs.
Access highly durable, low-cost object storage with Telnyx
Telnyx makes object storage accessible and scalable without breaking the bank. Customers can save up over 70% when switching to Telnyx, and our S3-compatible API makes migrating a breeze. We boast 99.999999999% (11 9’s) of data durability as well as data encryption for security. Build on the next generation of storage technology with Telnyx!