As the cloud grows more attractive to enterprises as a storage solution, cloud providers must decide what cloud storage model will be suitable for their customers. Different use cases and needs will dictate this decision, whether the customer is looking to cloud storage services as its primary storage source, backup storage or something in-between.
For those customers falling in between primary and backup cloud-storage needs, the object storage model can provide a happy medium for large and mostly static data-sets that must be accessed, but not necessarily changed.
While object storage in the cloud may offer the high performance and speed of other storage models, "it is very scalable in the cloud and has the elasticity users are looking for," said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp.
Cloud storage services: Consider how data is stored and retrieved
Caringo, an object storage software company, recently announced that three service providers have selected its cloud-storage architecture to support new cloud service offerings for very different verticals -- archiving, medical and real estate industries.
"The platform [currently in its fifth version] is vendor-neutral and can store data instantly and securely and be accessed from any Internet-connected application or device via a universal, unique identifier or name -- perfect for the storage of unstructured data," said Adrian Herrera, senior director of marketing for Caringo.
Object storage is all about delivering data portability and storing large data sets efficiently, Herrara noted. "Different kinds of storage are good for megabytes and gigabytes, but once you get into the hundreds of terabytes level, data must be stored more efficiently," he said. "Object storage doesn't split up data and allows for the metadata to be stored with the object. This way, data can be optimized across locations."
PeakeSecure -- the medical cloud-storage service currently storing the digital medical records for 330 million people in the U.S. -- was built with Caringo's storage architecture.
Medical images are becoming higher in density and larger in file size, and even large hospitals are having trouble keeping up with the storage of these images. "For this type of storage, taking a vertical approach is best," said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research.
Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars, a Dutch association of real-estate agents, is using Cargino's object-based storage platform for its online repository of real-estate images and transactions dating from 1985 to the present. For enterprises and organizations looking to store large data sets of video and images, object storage is a viable option.
"Object storage is really suited nicely to very large data sets," said Sam Barnett, directing analyst of data center and cloud for Infonetics Research. "There's tremendous value in the fact that object storage provides an easy reference to data and gets [the user] to the data faster, which is the most important thing."
Industries like medical and real estate will particularly benefit from cloud storage services, Kerravala noted. "These industries tend to have a lot of older technology being replaced and have small IT departments, yet their data sets are growing by leaps and bounds."
More on cloud storage services
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Cloud storage services: a primary storage option?
Object storage in the cloud: beneficial for the static data-set
While the object storage model for cloud storage services could be used across many industries, the question remains: In what capacity will the industry be making use of this storage model?
"Industries with more static content will benefit the most from an object storage model in the cloud," Nolle said. "For industries like real estate and medicine, it's clearly a good idea."
In building a cloud storage service, it's all about how the data is archived, said Barnett. For companies with data that is constantly being viewed and updated -- like in the case of a financial institution -- object storage may not be the right model for cloud storage.
"It's all about how often does the data need to be updated and the kind of access needed to a data set," Nolle said. "If two people are trying to update information at the same time, there's the question of data integrity and performance issues related to this [storage model]."
Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer