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‘Explosion’ in unstructured data is arousing interest and investment in object storage

Object or object-based storage is a pervasive computer data storage architecture, commonly used to manage large amounts of unstructured data. Each ‘object’ includes the data, metadata and a unique identifier.

Despite the widespread use of object-based storage (both Facebook and Spotify use it to store photos and songs), awareness in the enterprise is still relatively low. However, a recent Gartner report says that interest is growing due to:

  • An ‘explosion’ in unstructured data;

  • New investments in hybrid cloud storage capabilities, particularly in industries like media, finance and life sciences; and

  • Rising interest from enterprise developers and DevOps team members, who are seeking agile and programmable infrastructures that can be used in the public cloud.

Gartner pits different 13 object storage products against one another by comparing their metadata implementation; file protocol use; and hybrid cloud storage capabilities, across several areas. These are: analytics; archiving; backup; content distribution; and cloud storage.

IBM’s Cloud Object Storage (COS) was consistently ranked in first across all sectors, followed by Scality’s Ring; Hitachi’s Vantara Hitachi Content Platform (HCP); Dell EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS); and NetApp’s StorageGRID Webscale, in that order (although NetApp overtakes Dell EMC in archiving).

Gartner built its ranking to help infrastructure and operations (IO) leaders make decisions about where to invest. The firm recommends evaluating products from different vendors, particularly when it comes to verifying vendor claims about support for file protocols like NFS and SMB.

Early object storage began around the turn of the millenium, with the second phase in the late 2000s shifting the focus to cloud uses. This followed the development of Amazon’s S3 object storage service in the middle of the decade – hence, the market is largely driven by AWS.

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