Guest Column | August 17, 2012

5 Must Haves To Look For When Evaluating Object Storage

Mark Goros Caringo

By Mark Goros, CEO and founder, Caringo

Object storage has emerged as the preferred choice to handle the massive amounts of unstructured data managed by some of the largest public cloud services from Amazon, Google and Facebook. IT Administrators are now realizing that they too can leverage the benefits of object storage to simplify their storage infrastructure for private clouds, active archives and storage tiering, while increasing data protection and reducing costs. However, not all object storage solutions are created equal. Here are a few tips to consider before you invest in an object storage platform:

1. Symmetric architecture – i.e. the Southwest Airlines approach. Have you ever noticed that all Southwest planes are the same? They do this to significantly reduce costs, simplify operations, and effectively reduce delays and increase profits. Well the same goes for object storage solutions. You need to look for a solution with symmetric architecture where all nodes do the same thing and there are no “specialty nodes.” For example any node can find an object, any node can protect data, and all nodes participate in the repair of any issue encountered. Clusters built on symmetric nodes can be seamlessly replaced or expanded without downtime.

2. Data protection for any size file, any number of files and any capacity Make sure that the object storage solution can efficiently and effectively protect your information based on the business value of the content regardless of file size, file count or capacity. It’s important to understand that even applications for storing large files also usually require additional small file sets. When protecting small files (KBs in size) or small capacities (10s of TBs), protection schemes where file copies are made and stored independently (replication) are most efficient because other methods come with error correction or address overhead that leads to unneeded capacity utilization and increased recovery times. As storage capacities and file sizes grow, splitting a file into segments with parity information and storing those segments on separate nodes (erasure coding) is more efficient due to hardware and resource utilization. An effective object storage solution should employ both replication and erasure coding in the same cluster to ensure the most efficient use of resources, footprint, protection and recovery. The solution should also allow the protection scheme to be set per object and enforced automatically to simplify management as capacity and file count grows.

3. Instant access – the popularity of mobile devices and tablets is driving the need for IT organizations to support instant access of information. Traditionally you only had to think about providing access to information on a shared drive behind the firewall, the intranet or on a wiki, but the popularity of cloud-based services gives employees a very easy way to access corporate information in an often unsanctioned and insecure fashion. Additionally, different technology platforms are being integrated and it falls upon IT to ensure interoperability of these platforms. Object storage can be used to ensure instant accessibility and platform neutrality; however, you need to ensure that the solution you choose uses standards like HTTP and stores metadata with the content. This approach makes information truly portable because all descriptive, management, security and operational information needed to ensure interoperability with any platform is easily accessible and not locked in a proprietary database.

4. Cloud storage enablement – most object storage solutions do a good job of taking networking and server resources and providing a unified pool of storage but you need to make sure that the solution is easy to expand and supports secure multi-tenancy in an easy to access and integrated fashion. The solution should allow you to plug-in additional servers to expand without downtime, without manual storage balancing and without the need to modify existing hardware in any way (such as expanding RAM to increase indexing). The solution should also support secure multi-tenancy, authorization and access via standards like LDAP, AD and ACLs. Just as important the solution should offer programmatic and web based access for integration into any application, device or process or for direct use and management by administrators and end users.

5. Single vendor object storage solution – i.e. the Apple approach. Have you ever wondered why Apple has been so successful? Sure they have great industrial design but they have always had that. The truth is that their stuff works and this is largely driven by their control over their entire technology stack. You should look for the same in an object storage solution. Ensure that the core infrastructure software is provided by one organization. This ensures operability and optimization throughout the entire stack and ultimately results in reduced complexity, reduced costs and improved quality of storage service for you and you organization.

The relentless growth of data, need for ubiquitous accessibility, and market acceptance of cloud storage are all accelerating the adoption of object storage. Looking for these 5 “must haves” will simplify your evaluation and help you make the right decision for your organization.

For additional information please visit Caringo at http://www.caringo.com

Newsletter Signup
Newsletter Signup
Get the latest channel trends, news, and insights
By clicking Sign Me Up, you agree to our Terms and that you have read our Privacy Policy.