Object storage is one of the three main types of data storage, which include: block, file, and object.
Block storage is often used for structured data storage, such as databases. In block storage, the unit of storage is a fixed-size block, and each block has a unique address.
File and object storage are typically used to store unstructured data. Out of the three main storage types, file storage is likely the most familiar. File storage uses a hierarchy composed of directories and files to organize files by name. Files are accessed by specifying the path to the file.
Object storage, on the other hand, packages discrete data “objects” along with metadata and a unique identifier and stores them individually for easy access and retrieval. Object storage’s ability to support user-defined metadata adds significant flexibility and has made object storage a favorite for large stores of unstructured data.
Object storage simplifies data management versus the familiar file system hierarchy of file storage. It also avoids the need to reassemble data from the discrete blocks that are the basic accounting unit for block storage. Unlike typical file and block storage, objects in an object store can’t be modified in place. The only way to alter an object is to write a copy of the object with the desired changes.
The object storage architecture allows object stores to scale without limit using distributed data pools. These pools can themselves be scaled by adding storage to a pool. Object storage is often the preferred type of storage in the cloud, and it can also be used on premises. Popular cloud object stores include Azure Blob storage and Amazon S3. The S3 API has become the de facto standard for object storage.
Object storage has significant advantages that make it well suited to the use cases discussed in the following section. Benefits include:
Flat address space. Objects have a unique identifier and are stored in a datapool, allowing optimal use of resources without the limitations of file or block storage.
Unlimited scalability. Particularly if you are using a cloud-based object store, you can keep adding data forever without having to worry about managing the underlying storage, provisioning new capacity, and so on.
Reduced storage costs. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of object storage is typically less than that of file or block storage.
Fast data access. The unique identifier and associated metadata for each object makes access to an individual object faster than accessing a file.
Object storage is often preferred in the public cloud, supporting use cases including cloud native applications, content distribution, data archival, and more.
Rich media delivery. The ability to store, manage, and deliver rich media is one of the largest use cases for object storage. Many applications make use of vast object stores to store objects such as videos, photos, songs—and other types of files.
Cloud data archival. Enterprises generate enormous quantities of unstructured data, and object storage can allow them to archive that data cost effectively. The cloud has become a popular target for enterprise archives. The immutability of objects fits well with the archival use case, enabling enterprises to leverage cloud data archival to comply with regulatory requirements and governance mandates.
Business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR). Cloud data archival also plays an increasing role in enterprise BCDR planning. Using object storage for cloud data backups helps contain backup costs while providing secure offsite storage for important backup data—with the potential to recover quickly from outages using cloud resources.
As you just saw, the unique capabilities of object storage are particularly well suited for cloud data archival and BCDR use cases. You can use object storage to create a highly resilient, highly durable, active archive.
Rubrik helps you reduce storage costs by archiving backup data to cloud object storage. WIth Rubrik, you can archive backups to Amazon S3 while retaining instant access with predictive search. Rubrik enables extended protection against ransomware with support for Amazon S3 Object Lock.
Rubrik Cloud Vault reduces the risk of data breach, loss, or theft of your backups by storing immutable copies of your data in a Rubrik-hosted cloud environment, isolated from your core workloads. Because the service is fully-managed, it streamlines cloud archival for busy teams.
Object storage is used for large stores of unstructured data. Discrete data “objects” are packaged with metadata and a unique identifier for easy access and retrieval, and stored individually. The ability to support user-defined metadata adds significant flexibility, allowing object storage to be applied to a wide range of use cases.
The object storage architecture allows object stores to scale without limit across distributed data pools. Object storage is often used in the public cloud, and it can also be deployed on premises.
Object storage is often the preferred storage in the public cloud. Popular use cases include cloud native applications, content distribution, and data archival. It is increasingly used as the storage medium of choice for archiving backup data, to address enterprise BCDR requirements.
There are three main types of data storage: file, object, and block. File and object storage are typically used to store unstructured data. File storage is likely the most familiar, using a hierarchy composed of directories and files to organize files by name. Files are accessed by specifying the path to the file. With object storage, discrete data “objects” are packaged with metadata and a unique identifier for easy access and retrieval. (See What is object storage? above.) For block storage, the unit of storage is a fixed-size block, each with a unique address. Block storage is often used for structured data storage like databases. The database itself manages the blocks it controls, and is able to access specific blocks quickly to accelerate transactions.