Object Storage Use Cases

Object Storage is gaining widespread interest from IT professionals because it provides an answer to the challenge of cost-effectively scaling storage to meet the unrelenting growth of unstructured data. However, as more organizations deploy object storage they are discovering yet another truth: Object storage is a breakthrough technology that can reduce the costs and simplify the processes involved in disaster recovery.

With object storage, all storage nodes, regardless of location, are managed as one single pool, with no file system hierarchy. When an object is stored, it gets a unique identifier: Then, when it is updated or changed, it is stored as a new object.

The architecture of an object storage platform is inherently fault tolerant, meaning that organizations can use commodity hardware and sustain dramatic amounts of hardware failure without experiencing data loss. For example, if a particular server or storage device goes down, it can have no impact on operations because the data it contains is already stored on multiple devices at different physical locations within the infrastructure.

This can eliminate the need to set up separate sites specifically for disaster recovery, which means less costs, less management, less maintenance and, importantly, far greater speed, accuracy and simplicity in recovery. In certain use cases, there is in fact no recovery—even if there is a failure, no applications ever go down and no user ever knows that there was a problem. In this white paper, we examine two types of use cases where object storage is changing the dynamics of disaster recovery.

Unconstructured Data

What Is Unstructured Data

Unstructured data usually refers to information that doesn’t reside in a traditional database. Examples of Unstructured Data include:

  • Multimedia Content
  • E-Mail Messages
  • Word Processing Documents
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Audio Files
  • Presentations
  • Webpages

While these sorts of files may have an internal structure, they are still considered unstructured because the data they contain doesn’t fit neatly in a database. Experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of the data in an organization is unstructured.

Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery

Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery

In doing backup and recovery, you typically need a storage target. The best storage target is one that is going to be available across multiple locations or data centers. With an Object Storage solution, you are creating a single storage environment that is automatically replicated to multiple data centers. So when data is put into the object storage system, it ultimately exists in all of those locations. The benefit of this architecture is if one of the sites is inaccessible, you are still able to conduct backup and recovery operations from a another location(s).

Another consideration when thinking about Disaster Recovery is the fault-tolerance of the Object Storage solution. The solution should be able to sustain significant amounts of hardware failure without data loss. This translates into the ability to achieve significant cost savings through the use of commoditized hardware throughout the storage infrastructure as compared to a Do It Yourself solution.

Other Benefits of Object Storage Disaster Recover Solution

Object Storage Disaster Recover Solution Benefits

Here are some benefits of using Object Storage Disaster Recovery:

  • Lower costs: Failover server resources are consolidated, reducing the cost of servers, datacenters, and energy
  • Reduced complexity: Cloud-based disaster recovery is inherently less complex and more efficient compared to the traditional DR plans
  • Protection: Data protection guards against intentional or accidental data corruption within an intact infrastructure
  • Business continuity: High availability keeps applications up and running despite component or environmental failures or during planned operational procedures

In addition to disaster recovery, Budd has been able to use the SwiftStack object storage to reduce the costs of virtual machine backups, while also simplifying management. Budd is using SwiftStack to capture and replicate virtual machine (VM) backups produced by Veeam Backup and Replication tools. These backups drive cost savings by eliminating the need to have alternate copies on different media other than the network-attached storage (NAS). In addition, because of SwiftStack’s replication among regional offices, there is no need to keep off-site backups of the VMs up to date and accessible.

Some organizations may build their mission critical applications around the Object Storage environment. In architectures such as these, the native Object Storage’s redundancy and fault tolerance ensures that a need for Disaster Recovery doesn’t occur. The applications data is stored in multiple locations and in the event of a nodes failure at one location, DNS will route users to an available location so users don’t experience any downtime or performance gaps in their applications.

Compliance and Cloud Archiving

Compliance and Cloud Archiving

Generally, there are two reasons for archiving data to Object Storage. The first use case is around creating a central location for unstructured data, like documents and media, to be stored. Frequently in the corporate world we find that teams have the need to share and collaborate. A popular archiving and file sharing solution unofficially used in many organizations today is Dropbox.

If an organization has concerns about using an unmonitored solution like Dropbox due to privacy concerns related it’s data, it may be time to consider an Object Storage Solution on the Public Cloud. Object Storage Solutions are designed to store and maintain a variety of unstructured data types. For instance:

  • Research Data
  • Media (images, video, audio files, etc.)
  • Word Processing Documents
  • Presentations
  • Other kinds of business documents

A second popular use case for Digital Archiving with Object Storage is to support an organizations need for legal, regulatory and compliance requirements. Frequently, the type of (unstructured) data that applies to this use case is called cold data. Essentially, cold data refers to a type of data that does not need to be accessed frequently, if at all. However, this data must be maintained for a certain amount of time to satisfy regulatory and compliance requirements should an organization be audited. Generally, retention policies have to be established, how to delete data that is no longer necessary, as well as what and who should have access.

Storing large amounts “cold” dormant data for long periods of time is not necessarily conducive to accessibility should you need to for legal, regulatory or compliance reasons. When choosing a storage solution, an organization must consider how quickly it may be required to address unanticipated queries, as well as potentially turn over compliance and regulatory data. Compliance, regulatory and legal requirements have driven the development of Electronic Discovery (eDiscovery) software. Popular eDiscovery software packages include:

  • Hitachi Data Discovery Suite
  • AXS-One Inc.
  • FAST
  • Guidance Software Inc.
  • Index Engines Inc.
  • Kazeon Systems Inc.
  • Lucid8 LLC
  • Messagesolution Inc.
  • Mimosa Systems Inc.
  • Sherpa Software
  • StoredIQ Inc.
  • Zantaz Inc.

If your organization is in a highly regulated industry, it’s strongly recommended that you consider an eDiscovery when considering an Object Storage solution.

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