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What is object storage?

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Object storage solutions

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Object storage, also known as object-based storage, is a strategy that manages and manipulates data storage as distinct units, called objects. These objects are kept in a single storehouse and are not ingrained in files inside other folders. Instead, object storage combines the pieces of data that make up a file, adds all its relevant metadata to that file, and attaches a custom identifier.

Object storage adds comprehensive metadata to the file, eliminating the tiered file structure used in file storage, and places everything into a flat address space, called a storage pool. This metadata is key to the success of object storage in that it provides deep analysis of the use and function of data in the storage pool.

Object storage vs. file storage vs. block storage

Object storage takes each piece of data and designates it as an object. Data is kept in separate storehouses versus files in folders and is bundled with associated metadata and a unique identifier to form a storage pool.

File storage stores data as a single piece of information in a folder to help organize it among other data. This is also called hierarchical storage, imitating the way that paper files are stored. When you need access to data, your computer system needs to know the path to find it.

Block storage takes a file apart into singular blocks of data and then stores these blocks as separate pieces of data. Each piece of data has a different address, so they don't need to be stored in a file structure.

Benefits of object storage

Now that we've described what object storage is, what are its benefits?

  • Greater data analytics. Object storage is driven by metadata, and with this level of classification for every piece of data, the opportunity for analysis is far greater.
  • Infinite scalability. Keep adding data, forever. There's no limit.
  • Faster data retrieval. Due to the categorization structure of object storage, and the lack of folder hierarchy, you can retrieve your data much faster.
  • Reduction in cost. Due to the scale-out nature of object storage, it's less costly to store all your data.
  • Optimization of resources. Because object storage does not have a filing hierarchy, and the metadata is completely customizable, there are far fewer limitations than with file or block storage.

Object storage use cases

There are multiple use cases for object storage. For example, it can assist you in the following ways:

  • Deliver rich media. Define workflows by leveraging industry-leading solutions for managing unstructured data. Reduce your costs for globally distributed rich media.
  • Manage distributed content. Optimize the value of your data throughout its lifecycle and deliver competitive storage services.
  • Embrace the Internet of Things (IoT). Manage machine-to-machine data efficiently, support artificial intelligence and analytics, and compress the cost and time of the design process.

What is Amazon S3 Storage?

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) is a storage system for the internet, where you can store and retrieve any amount of data, anytime, anywhere. This make web-scaling computing easier for developers, and it also gives them access to the infrastructure that Amazon uses to conduct a global network of websites. The Amazon S3 API offers a common path for rapid development and the creation of hybrid cloud deployments at scale.

NetApp and object storage

Store and manage unstructured data at scale by using NetApp® StorageGRID® for secure, durable object storage for the private and public cloud. Place content in the right location, at the right time, and on the right storage tier, optimizing workflows and reducing overall costs for globally distributed rich media. 

Cloud and data storage solutions

Reference architecture and unstructured data

A disproportionate share of today’s enterprise data is unstructured—accessed and stored across manifold environments. In this reference architecture starter kit, learn how to solve the data maze at your organization.

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Unstructured data management

NetApp solutions for unstructured data deliver competitive storage services that help you optimize the value of your data

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StorageGRID and object storage

Have technical questions about StorageGRID or object storage? Visit the NetApp StorageGRID and object storage documentation guide and get the answers you need.

Technical resources & documentation

Enterprise data management resources

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Data storage for any environment

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StorageGRID by NetApp for efficient management of unstructured data

Your need for data storage is growing faster than ever, and only StorageGRID provides the simplicity, speed, and cloud integrations you need to drive your business. Find out how StorageGRID can simplify management of your unstructured data.

StorageGRID by NetApp

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