Primary storage = block.
Secondary storage = file.
Object storage comes third.

Object storage is immensely scalable, cheaper, durable and Slooooower. Could it be changing soon? Let me talk about on-premises object storage here.

More applications access object stores

Many end users start with an application (Sync & share for example) and then they add more and more (and more…). But most of them don’t need the level of scale usually found in service providers, and many object storage system now support tiering mechanisms to slower repositories or cloud services. Adding flash memory to these small (5/10 node) clusters becomes fundamental to have an acceptable performance.

More developers use object stores

S3-Young developers started their careers using Amazon AWS services and the likes. VMs have ephemeral storage and, for them, persistent storage is S3. If you ask them to develop a new application, they ask for an S3 service.

Application repatriation and hybrid cloud is another trend. With large organizations moving some applications back to their datacenters, we’ll be seeing more and more pressure on object storage systems… and some applications need more performance than others but, again, not always the scale.

More use cases for object stores

Scale-out NFS/FS is becoming more important as a front-end for object storage, but not only. The types of workloads that are accessing object storage are growing too. It’s interesting, for example, that PureStorage FlashBlade supports NFS and S3 (while support for other protocols will be added in the future).

Big Data applications are starting to take advantage of S3 too….. why not have it faster? Again, some object storage vendors have Tiering… and the same is true also for workloads like content distribution (most accessed objects can be served from flash).

Speeding up objects (and closing the circle)

Up to now we’ve always had slow object storage systems and different forms of cache deployed on specific gateways or directly through the application. Flash, if any, was deployed only in small quantities to manage metadata.
This approach has the best $/GB but, depending on the application, complexity and data consistency could be an issue.

Ceph-LogoNow, with modern object storage platforms a first tier of flash is not difficult to implement and, for some use cases, even an all-flash object storage system could be a good idea… (A few weeks ago I had the chance to talk with an end user who has deployed an All-flash Ceph cluster!)

Some primary storage vendors already have an object-based architecture at the back-end and for them is just mapping S3 protocol to the front-end… and, yes they are registering this need… it won’t take long.

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