Object Storage in Hybrid Cloud Storage

Object Storage in Hybrid Cloud Storage

Sarojini Devi Nagappan
07 April 2020

Many organisations are facing storage infrastructure issues as the volume of data in their organisations are increasing rapidly. The primary challenge here is how to design safe and secure data storage architecture without compromising performance as well as implementing it in a cost-effective way. Hybrid cloud storage is one architecture widely adopted currently for these challenges. This blog gives an overview of object storage in hybrid cloud storage implementation.

Hybrid Storage

Hybrid storage is a blend of different storage types designed for high availability and performance in a  cost-effective way. The concept of hybrid storage was initially designed as a blend of flash-based solid-state and mechanical drives to achieve high performance for computer storage. This concept then slowly expanded to hybrid storage infrastructure like hybrid cloud storage implementation. The reason behind the evolution is rather simple; the sudden rise in data volume which forced the IT management to look for various options to distribute their storage systems with a low cost. 

Hybrid Cloud Storage

Hybrid cloud storage or hybrid cloud is an approach in cloud computing to host many cloud-based services such as backups, web services, etc. Here the storage is managed both on-premises and on the cloud. In this architecture, commonly, the active data is maintained locally (n-premisses) and the inactive data is moved to the cloud. Inactive data here refers to archive and backup data. Hybrid cloud storage is usually implemented and maintained via commercial software which has the capability to manage both local and off-site data. Many organizations have adopted this storage infrastructure not only because of cost, but it is also used in disaster recovery plans to support business continuity. This architecture also promotes portability, where one should be able to use the on-premises and cloud resources simultaneously with the seamless flow of information.

Data Management in Hybrid Cloud Storage

With hybrid cloud, data stored on-premises and on clouds can be of different formats but it limits the capability of hybrid cloud infrastructure. The idea of having a hybrid cloud is to facilitate seamless movement of large amounts of data between two distinct environments; private cloud (on-premises) and public cloud. Below are three types of cloud storage formats : 

Block Storage 

  • Data is saved to the storage media in fixed-sized chunks called blocks
  • Process a very high volume of data with minimal delay
  • Good for high performance workloads

Object Storage

  • Pairing a piece of data with unique identifiers known as metadata
  • Can be accessed very quickly at a huge scale

File Storage

  • Data is stored as a single piece of information inside a folder
  • Responsible for organizing data and representing it to users
  • High processing time

To decide which would be the best method for cloud storage, it is important to first understand how the data is retrieved for each of the formats and its support for scalability. In file storage, data is accessed using an exact file path. Documents are stored in a hierarchical tree structure, it is easy to navigate, but the retrieval process requires high processing time. Blocks in block storage are identified by a unique identifier. Small pieces of each block can be stored in different environments like Windows and Linux. When a data is requested, the underlying system will reassemble the blocks form different environments and then present it as a complete data. It does not rely on a single path makes it a reliable storage format and very suitable for big transactions. However, this type of storage is expensive and has limited capability of storing metadata. In object storage, data is stored as objects and kept in a single repository. Each object has a unique identifier, metadata, which can store very detailed information and is very good to store unstructured data. This unique identifier and metadata are used when retrieving an object. Object storage is very cost-effective and scalable, therefore it is very suitable to store a very large amount of data.

Object Storage in Hybrid Cloud Storage

As the volume of data grows, data storage infrastructure cost turned out to be the main pain point for IT management in many organisations. Legacy storage had limitations in scalability and had performance issues as the amount of data grew. Object storage was introduced as an ideal solution to solve the legacy storage limitation in handling the movement of large amounts of data. It provides different ways of storing data which is very suitable for hybrid cloud environments. Adoption of the object storage model was rather slow in the initial transition, however, well-known research by Veeam reported a steady increase in adoption in 2018.

Veeam Research Study

How Object Storage works

Object storage model is the base technology for cloud storage architecture because it does not place any limitations on the number of objects in the storage. Each object's metadata is information-rich, making it more searchable by the search engines. Besides this, objects are organized in buckets which hold related objects together making it easier for group data management. Clustered nodes can be used to view and retrieve data based on the object’s unique ID. Each node can work independently in delivering large objects thus overcoming the limitation of the other cloud storage formats. Organisations can scale up their infrastructure by adding more nodes to support petabytes of data without having any performance issues in a cost-effective way.

Benefits of Object Storage in the Hybrid Cloud 

Object storage model allows data to be distributed geographically and among different platforms. This is particularly important for disaster recovery planning. Object storage also allows seamless communication between on-premises and cloud platforms (e.g. S3 API). With its flat file system, it can support unstructured data format and also there is no hard limit on scalability whether it is on-premises or in the cloud.

Conclusion

Connectivity, scalability, data visibility, and operational control are some of the challenges raised in hybrid cloud data management. Looking at connectivity, in a hybrid system, all systems distributed in various locations should be connected seamlessly. Object storage helps to solve this problem because of its underlying object design which allows it to be distributed in various platforms and environments, and retrieved using a unique identifier. Object storage gives limitless scalability to support rapidly increasing data variety, complexity, and volume. With rich metadata, object storage provides higher visibility which allows the data to be more searchable and usable. It is important for businesses in hybrid cloud environments to have seamless information flow of data between on-premises and cloud, and object storage is just the perfect solution for this. Object storage employs the same API to facilitate seamless communication between two different environments. With all these listed benefits, object storage is definitely a must-have in the hybrid cloud storage strategy.