Humanity produces enormous amounts of digital data every day. According to IDC forecasts, by 2025, their total global volume will be 163 zettabytes. Moreover, most of this data will belong to businesses rather than to ordinary users.
Where do you store such colossal amounts of information? Traditionally, companies used their storage infrastructure for this – they purchased storage systems, maintained them and upgraded them. This approach requires considerable costs: when organizing local solutions, you can only do with spending on the equipment itself and the salaries of the specialists servicing it. Sooner or later, such infrastructure will become outdated and will have to be modernized.
Cloud storage can significantly simplify the process of organizing a storage infrastructure. Instead of buying equipment and regularly maintaining systems, you can rent the required volume in the cloud. But first things first.
Table of Contents
How Cloud Storage Works
Cloud storage is a service that allows you to place files not on your media but on the servers of the service provider. The user is allocated the required amount of disk space where he can upload any file – documents, video, audio, programs and much more. You’ve probably used such tools yourself – as a rule, most services provide a limited amount of space for free.
However, it is not practical for companies to use services aimed at the average user. Such storage facilities do not guarantee the availability, security and safety of the posted data. Enterprise-class tools are suitable for solving business problems. In this case, the company can choose what kind of storage it needs – file, block or object. Let’s figure out how they differ.
In this type of storage, all files are divided into equal blocks (chunks). In this case, each block is assigned an individual identifier. Using ID, the storage system collects the files themselves from the available blocks.
- Low latency
- All operating systems recognize block storage systems as disks and connect to them without
- problems using iSCSI or FC protocols.
- Separate access
- Block storage allows you to separate user environments and grant separate access to each of them.
Suitable for use with databases
One of the most common scenarios for using block systems is their integration with company databases—for example, SAP HANA or Oracle.
- Metadata limitations
- Block storage is significantly inferior to file and object storage in terms of the amount of metadata ( they determine what is placed in the storage ). This feature can reduce the performance of applications where the use of metadata is critical.
- High price
- A user of block storage in the cloud will most likely have to pay for storage capacity, even if it is not used entirely.
It’s a classic familiar to any PC user. All data is stored in files, files in folders, and they, in turn, are combined into directories. File storage has a hierarchical organization.
- Intuitive operating principle
- All files in the storage are organized in a hierarchical tree system – just like on a regular Windows, Mac or Linux computer. To upload text documents, multimedia files or any other data, you can use the friendly web interface or put the files in a cloud-synced folder.
- Flexible configuration of access rights
- A file storage administrator can easily grant users or their groups access rights to specific files, folders, or entire “trees.”
- Suitable for structured data
File storage will help solve business problems of storing large amounts of data that are organized within a specific structure.
- Problems with scaling
- As the volume of data grows, storage requires scaling, and in the case of file systems, there are specific difficulties. Since this type of storage has a hierarchical organization, over time, the “trees” can become so complex and branched that it becomes challenging to navigate through the files. In
- addition, this can negatively affect system performance. For these reasons, file storage in data centres is only sometimes used.
Object storage is a relatively new approach to data storage. It is universal and suitable for any data: corporate documentation, logs, multimedia content, static data, programs and much more.
How is such versatility achieved? Everything that is uploaded to cloud object storage is stored as an object with a specific set of parameters. Each object is assigned:
- identifier in 128-bit number format;
- Metadata, which contains information that allows you to identify a specific object: name, its coordinates, author, etc.
Unlike file storage, the structure of object storage is not hierarchical but flat. The absence of hierarchy allows you to scale storage with virtually no restrictions. Metadata can be optimized to work with any application – for example, change its set or expand it.
Object cloud storage is used to store:
- backend of mobile and web applications;
- electronic document management data;
- logs and logs;
- static content;
- big data;
- archival information.
Let’s look at the most popular ones in more detail.
- Backup Storage
Backups are the key to the safety of corporate data. Connecting backup allows you to avoid their loss. In contrast, modern solutions will enable you to create copies not only of individual files but also of virtual machines, operating systems, applications and databases. However, storing backups in the same place where the infrastructure is deployed is impractical. In the event of a failure, the business risks losing them along with the reserved objects.
Construction of your storage infrastructure requires capital costs for the purchase of storage systems, their administration and maintenance. Object storage allows you to ensure a high level of backup safety while the prices are transparent and the customer bears only rental payments. It can be easily integrated with your backup solution: CommVault, Acronis Infoprotect, Veeam, Duplicati, Veritas and others.
- Hosting unstructured data
Often, a business is faced with the need to quickly and inexpensively place a large amount of “raw” data somewhere that will be processed in the future. These can be logs, video materials, or audio recordings. An object storage service in the cloud will not only help reduce costs but also provide quick access to such unstructured data.
- Working with Big Data and AI
The scenario is similar to the previous one. Can you imagine how much information companies that specialize in big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence work with? This could be as much as hundreds of petabytes! It is entirely unprofitable to host them on your systems, and it isn’t easy to scale the local infrastructure as volumes increase. Cloud storage comes to the rescue. The amount of allocated space is scalable without restrictions, clients can configure bandwidth, and there is a convenient API for data manipulation. Read more about them.