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Object Storage is Only a Technology: Data Defined Storage is a Solution

In today’s IT world, data storage is an ever escalating challenge for any organization. In the past, structured data or data stored in databases, was the largest

consumer of storage. However, unstructured data is growing at exponential rates, and surpassed structured data long ago. Unstructured data typically means files, but it also includes data stored in email and SharePoint systems. By Shahbaz Ali, President & CEO of Tarmin, Inc.

FILES ARE STORED in file systems, which are notorious for having scalability limits. Old style file servers and NAS appliances often do not scale to the levels required in today’s IT environments. This leads to the proliferation of data silos across the organization, each purchased for a single application thus generating limited file types. Data silos are extremely inefficient as they regularly have unused capacity and prevent organizations from understanding and appropriately leveraging the data they possess, except through the individual application that created the data. Any new form of data storage solution today must have one overriding requirement, in order to eliminate wasteful data silos and to match the pace of data growth: SCALABILITY

Object Storage is Only a Technology Object storage platforms were specifically designed to address the scalability problem of today’s NAS and server file systems. But scaling is about all they do (some better than others). If the only requirement is to have somewhere to put all the data, then most object storage platforms would suffice. But getting data, files in particular, in and out of an object storage system is often a significant challenge. None of the object storage vendors can do this without a separate file application platform. Organizations don’t just need to store data, they need to leverage it as a strategic asset… and this requires a new data centric approach.

In recent years, the enterprise technology marketplace, has been reviewing a new category of products, collectively known as object storage. It is easy to understand why; the unprecedented growth in unstructured data is stretching the feasibility of using conventional

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storage systems. Object storage is a generic term that describes a number of different vendors’ storage technologies with attributes to address massive data volumes. Object storage assigns every directly- addressable and unique atomic unit of data its own unique identifier. Unlike conventional file systems, however, there is no hierarchy or directory structure, and therefore no concept of a “path” to a specific object resolved to a particular component. Clients retrieve the stored data object using a unique “claim check” code; its actual location on physical media is abstracted and virtualized.

Object storage technologies attempt to address scalability issues associated with standard hierarchical file systems by removing them altogether. While this does allow them to claim a “global namespace” for billions of objects, it also removes standard file-sharing protocol access.

To support this, a third-party file gateway server must be added, with file protocols on one side and object API commands on the other. However, these gateways often eliminate many of the advantages of using object storage; including scalability, parallel object access, architectural flexibility, and improved data availability.

Data Defined Storage is a Solution Enterprise organizations are seeking new ways to manage, access and scale to support the ever increasing quantities of information through their business, while ensuring that data is protected from loss or unintended access, and yet provide for a high level of automated flexibility within the IT storage infrastructure to keep capital and operational expenses to a minimum. To address these and future

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