It is almost cliche to start a blog stating that data is growing fast and that managing this growth is difficult, but, the truth of the matter is, that it is a challenge for many businesses today. The storage industry is responding quickly, which explains why we’ve seen so much innovation in data storage systems lately.
Object storage is one of the most fundamental innovations the industry has seen to address the challenges of large-scale storage. Object storage systems work by storing each file, or object, in a flat, distributed storage construct called a “bucket.” Each object placed in a bucket is assigned a unique address, which differentiates it from the hierarchical nature of block and file-based storage systems. It has become a fairly popular option for a number of business transformational reasons, particularly as a public cloud service, which is why 11:11 has recently launched our own object store service.
Object storage is enabling businesses
Object storage was designed to simplify access to objects by having all operations available through HTTP commands like GET and POST. This easy-to-connect nature of public cloud object storage also makes it a great landing place for data that needs to be gathered amongst multiple geographic locations. Whether that be the myriad of IoT devices or a highly distributed workforce, not having to rely on a distributed corporate network can make the system much simpler to use and maintain. Much of this type of data also relies on good metadata for analysis, which object stores support as part of the object in addition to the file itself.
The lack of a hierarchical structure allows object stores to scale extremely large, which is particularly useful for unstructured data that is being created rapidly and needs to be retained for years. Object storage systems are sometimes built using commodity hardware with data distribution for resiliency, leading to relatively inexpensive, yet resilient, cloud-based storage. This makes public object storage a very attractive destination for archival of data since it is easy to access and automate off-site, long-term storage. Look no further than the release of Veeam Backup and Recovery 9.5 Update 4 for an example of backup functionality that can take advantage of object storage.
Sharing data, particularly externally, can be difficult and often leads to shadow IT with products like Dropbox. Though not designed for traditional file/folder storage typical in operating systems, there are many products that can place a hierarchical structure around an object store. Some even integrate directly into the operating system to make it easy to access. Sharing files can be accomplished easily and safely by creating time-limited URLs to access single files, which avoids the need to mess with the traditional permissions in a hierarchical folder structure. By providing a simple-to-use file storage system that is globally available and built to easily share data, IT departments can avoid the security and budgetary concerns inherent with shadow IT.
11:11 Cloud Object Storage
The 11:11 Cloud Object Storage service is built on the OpenStack Swift framework and utilizes the Amazon S3 API for integration and accessibility, the de facto standard interface for object storage. With this compatibility in place, it provides direct integration with a wide range of products that already support S3, as well as integration for developers using RESTful APIs as part of their development framework. Every object is stored in three different places for resiliency, utilizing eventual consistency to provide fast transactions. Providing a secure environment for customer data is critical. So, 11:11 Cloud Object Storage is also designed to protect data in-flight, by only allowing HTTPS transactions, and at rest, by encrypting all objects before writing them to disk. Buckets are set to private by default to protect data from anonymous browsing. However, customers need to properly maintain this setting and their assigned permissions, because all data in the cloud is protected through a shared security model.
Customers can utilize this service for wide variety of solutions. The most basic solution is to use it as general file storage for unstructured files like images, videos and log files. It can be especially useful for files that can take advantage of having metadata attached to the objects. The ability to create time-limited URLs to specific objects makes it easy for the files to be shared with external entities without having to manage complex permissions and worrying about revoking that access later. Support for Veeam’s Scale-Out Backup Repository Cloud Tier functionality is available to all customers with Veeam 9.5 U4. This enables customers to easily extend their long-term backups into the cloud for a minimal cost and the opportunity to eliminate off-site tape backups.
Many other applications are now supporting S3-compatible storage to store documents, log files, video files, database files and many others. If customers have any of these applications, including ones customers build for themselves on top of the S3 APIs, 11:11 will work with them to configure access to utilize the 11:11 Cloud Object Storage. This means that applications like file sync and share, document management systems, IoT device data repositories, Big Data analytics and video file storage can gain the benefits of a resilient and highly accessible public storage space.
11:11 set out to provide all these functions and benefits to our customers, while still providing all the other benefits our customers have come to expect from other 11:11 products. We’ve made the billing as simple as possible by only charging for reserved capacity, starting at 500GB, with no bandwidth, CPU or data processing charges. The object storage system is built on the same enterprise-class equipment and is designed to provide a secure and 100 percent SLA infrastructure, just like the rest of our other services. The management of the storage, security and billing all happen through the 11:11 Cloud Console – the same console customers use for infrastructure, disaster recovery and backup management. Security is truly a first-class citizen across all of 11:11’s products. 11:11 takes the shared responsibility of security in the cloud to heart, and we have people available and dedicated to ensuring customers are fully secure and ready for any compliance reviews. Customers also have access to an experienced support staff that are available 24/7 for no additional cost to help with onboarding, production issues and provide expert advice they need along the way.
Everything 11:11 releases is designed to enable customers to succeed. Our goal is to be a partner in the cloud, not just another vendor, to our customers and this object storage service is another step toward making 11:11 the most robust and easy way for businesses to use the cloud to succeed. 11:11 Cloud Object Storage is available today.