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Although object storage has something of a checkered past, the technology has matured to the point that today's object storage architecture is well-suited to meet the needs of enterprise backup. In fact, there are two main ways that administrators can benefit from using object storage backup.
The first benefit of object storage backup is probably the better-known of the two. Object storage makes cloud backup practical. Public cloud providers, such as Amazon and Microsoft, offer various storage services to their subscribers. Some of this storage is designed for performance and comes at a premium price, while other storage is less expensive and well-suited for use with backups. Amazon Simple Storage Service is an example of such a storage tier, as is Azure Blob storage.
The other benefit to using object storage backup is that object storage enables massive scalability. In fact, this scalability directly addresses a problem that has plagued backup administrators for quite some time: the question of how to safely store large quantities of backup data for the lowest possible price.
Tape backup, for example, usually offers the lowest cost per gigabyte of storage. Because tapes are a form of removable media, however, there are challenges with achieving secure, off-site storage. Furthermore, tape becomes less practical as the volume of data that needs to be backed up increases, simply because of the sheer number of tapes that may be required.
Conversely, in the last several years, disk-based backups have become extraordinarily popular because of their ability to eliminate the backup window. Many of the disk-based backup systems that are being sold today, however, are designed around the use of NAS- or SAN-based block storage, which has inherent scalability limits.
Object storage, on the other hand, uses a flat storage space that can easily scale to multiple petabytes through the installation of additional nodes. These nodes can be local, remote or even cloud-based. This distributed architecture lends itself especially well to object storage backup and data protection uses because it enables redundant file copies to be stored in multiple physical locations.
Furthermore, because object storage is designed primarily for scale, it is usually acceptable to base object storage on low-cost, commodity hardware.
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