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5 Highlights from DCIG’s SDS Object Storage Research

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Earlier this year, DCIG announced the 2022-23 DCIG TOP 5 On-Premises SDS Object Storage Solutions report. The DCIG TOP 5 report provides guidance on the TOP 5 solutions organizations should consider for on-premises SDS object storage deployment.

This article reviews the benefits of object storage and software-defined storage, and reveals five highlights from DCIG’s SDS object storage research that readers may find interesting. 

At the end of the article, there is a link for downloading the 2022-23 DCIG TOP 5 On-Premises SDS Object Storage Solutions report.

Object Storage Background 

Object Storage has come a long way since its beginnings in the 1990s. Evolving from its modest role serving backup, archive, and disaster recovery needs, object storage has grown to become an essential part of enterprise storage. Object storage deployment options now abound: in the cloud, on-premises, and at the edge; appliance-based and software-defined; proprietary offerings and open-source solutions.

Object Storage Characteristics and Benefits

 

Certainly, a reason driving object storage’s adoption is the deluge of data growth. IT departments must store, manage, and protect existing data, plus deal with new data coming into the organization. The largest segment of this data growth is unstructured data such as video, audio, images, sensor data, documents, emails, presentations, spreadsheets, and similar files. For many organizations, terabytes of data have become petabytes and even exabytes.

Object storage’s characteristics are beneficial for managing the data deluge.

Scalability. There is a reason why all the public cloud providers primarily use object storage. Object storage’s flat architecture without folders, hierarchical structures, or built-in limits does away with the scaling limitations of file systems. Plus, object storage generally scales at a more affordable price per terabyte than NAS file storage systems.

Metadata. When storing large amounts of unstructured data, there is the need to make sense of that data. A key characteristic of object storage is the ability to attach customizable metadata to objects. Metadata is a small amount of structured data associated with the object itself. User-defined metadata enables applications to perform bulk functions upon objects such as searching, indexing, and analyzing objects.

Self-protecting. Inherent within object storage solutions are data protection capabilities to ensure data resiliency and durability. Often as a standard feature, object storage solutions include erasure coding and replication. Erasure coding segments and distributes data across multiple nodes or sites. Replication makes and stores multiple copies of the data for backup and recovery. Data may be restored to an original state from erasure-coded segments in the event of storage component failures, preventing data loss.

S3 API. Amazon’s API for Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) has become the defacto standard for object storage. All object storage vendors DCIG evaluated support the S3 API to some extent. With S3, organizations can access their object stores, authenticate data, obtain object properties, and manage permissions. With S3-compatible storage, organizations can move their data to other object storage services for cost savings or specialized workloads.

Software-Defined Object Storage

 

The growth of Software-defined Storage (SDS) is part of the broader transition to the software-defined data center, where infrastructure elements such as compute, storage, and networking are abstracted and virtualized. Increasing SDS capabilities, along with its flexibility and cost-efficiencies, fuels SDS demand. SDS expands on the benefits of object storage in the following ways:

Scalability. SDS solutions enable organizations to scale up or out depending on requirements. On-premises, organizations can add to their existing physical storage to expand their virtualized pool. Many SDS object storage solutions have virtually no capacity limitations. Such scalability helps organizations flex to their growing data and application needs.

Data management capabilities. The data management component of SDS solutions virtualizes and views data from multiple systems as one central repository. Global views, including permissions management, capacity utilization, and analytics, enable new opportunities for ensuring optimal performance and cost of managing an organization’s object stores.

Cost efficiencies. SDS-based solutions bring savings and efficiencies compared with traditional storage systems. Organizations may deploy SDS solutions with cost-effective commodity hardware. They may also save money by optimizing and extending the life of their existing storage through pooling this storage into their SDS solution. When constrained IT budgets rarely grow at the pace of unstructured data accumulation, these cost-efficiencies are greatly valued.

With SDS-based object storage solutions, organizations can leverage the benefits of object storage and the benefits of software-defined storage. These combined benefits bring affordable, flexible, object storage solutions that support diverse environments, workloads, and media.

5 Highlights from DCIG’s SDS Object Storage Research

 

DCIG eighteen providers of Software-defined Storage solutions supporting object storage protocols. The evaluation questions covered:

  • Deployment capabilities
  • Data protection
  • Product and performance management
  • Technical support
  • Licensing and pricing

Below are five highlights from DCIG’s SDS Object Storage research.

SDS Deployment Capabilities.

 

A foundational question for a vendor’s SDS products regards deployment capabilities. In addition to licensing an SDS product as a software-only offering on-premises, vendors also offered the solution as part of a pre-integrated appliance. For many organizations, integrated solutions are attractive because the vendor provides holistic ownership for trouble resolution. Many of these same SDS solutions can be deployed in the cloud for multi-cloud data storage management.

Survey results from SDS Object Storage Research showing SDS Solution Deployment Options

Public Cloud Object Storage Targets

 

Unsurprisingly, when asked about support for public providers as targets by the product, all solutions support Amazon S3. Many vendors noted their products could support any S3- compatible object store. Having options for multiple cloud providers gives enterprises options for storage diversity, replication, backup, and disaster recovery.

Survey results from SDS Object Storage Research showing support for which public cloud providers are supported as targets by the solution.

Immutability for Data Protection

Nearly all of the SDS providers support immutable storage for object data. Immutable storage ensures persons or applications cannot change data after its written. This feature helps organizations recover from ransomware attacks by providing unencrypted data sources for retrieval. A majority of solutions support object lock features. Object lock lets organizations select time-periods when data cannot be changed or deleted to make sure organizations comply with legal hold requirements.

Survey results from SDS Object Storage Research showing SDS Data Protection Features

Multi-tenancy

Organizations may be interested in multi-tenancy to separate business units, companies, or customers from each other. With this feature, administrators can set storage-specific policies unique to each tenant. A majority of SDS Object Storage solutions provide multi-tenancy features.

Survey results from SDS Object Storage Research showing SDS multi-tenancy support

Quality of Service for Prioritized Workloads.

With many different applications and users vying for storage resources, there is the risk that one or more applications could consume resources. QoS features allow organizations to prioritize resources so that the most important applications get what they need. SDS solutions handle this in various ways. Many of the respondents provide support for QoS features.

Survey results from SDS Object Storage Research showing SDS QoS options.

SDS Object Storage – Enterprise Class Data Services

 

With a compound annual growth rate of nearly 26%, software-defined storage is mature. SDS provides enterprise-class data services, features, and performance characteristics businesses need for confidence to move their workloads to these platforms.

Even with maturity, SDS deployment options, data protection, and data management features vary among providers. This requires business and technical buyers of SDS products to understand which product best fits their needs. And this is why organizations will find DCIG’s TOP 5 reports valuable for saving time in selecting a short list of possible solutions.

Read the 2022-23 DCIG TOP 5 On-Premises SDS Object Storage Solutions Report

Hitachi Vantara recently announced their DCIG TOP 5 award for the Hitachi Content Platform. Hitachi Content Platform includes a number of outstanding features that earn it a DCIG TOP 5 award. Readers can download the 2022-23 DCIG TOP 5 On-Premises SDS Object Storage Solutions report from the Hitachi Vantara website at this link.

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To learn about DCIG’s forthcoming research and publications, see the DCIG Editorial Calendar.

Technology providers interested in licensing DCIG TOP 5 reports or having DCIG produce custom reports, please contact DCIG for more information.

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