Most public cloud providers provide object storage for general-purpose data storage. Object storage is an ideal storage solution for use in the cloud, because it is designed for massive scalability, high reliability, and low cost. Object storage works by placing data into one or more storage buckets, which can then be accessed programmatically.
Nearly all public cloud providers offer object storage to their subscribers, including IBM, Oracle, and Alibaba Cloud. In this article, we compare the object storage offerings of each of these cloud providers.
The IBM cloud defines four different classes of object storage. The first of these classes is simply called Standard. This is IBM’s basic, run-of-the-mill object storage, and is intended to be used for general- purpose, active workloads.
The second storage class defined by IBM is called Vault. As its name implies, Vault is intended for use with data that is accessed infrequently. Unlike Standard storage, IBM imposes a charge for accessing data residing within Vault storage.
IBM’s third class of object storage is Cold Vault. Cold Vault is similar to Vault storage, in that it is intended for use with data that is not frequently accessed, but the assumption is that data within Cold Vault storage exists primarily in an archival state and will rarely, if ever be accessed. The cost of retrieving data from Cold Vault storage is greater than that of retrieving data from Vault storage.
The fourth and final type of object storage defined by IBM is Flex storage. Flex storage is designed for use with dynamic workloads whose data access patterns are difficult to predict.
Regardless of which class of object storage is being used, IBM uses an Information Dispersal Algorithm (IDA) that is similar to erasure coding as a mechanism for determining data placement. This algorithm is designed to ensure both the security of the data and the reliability of data retrieval. The algorithm is based on spanning data across a number of nodes. For the sake of security, none of the nodes contain a complete copy of the data. At the same time, however, redundancy is implemented in a way that ensures that not all nodes have to be online in order to retrieve the data. The individual nodes communicate with one another using TLS, and an All or Nothing Transform algorithm prevents data from being disclosed if any of the nodes are found to be compromised. Clients communicate with object storage using HTTPS communications.
Like IBM, Oracle has designed its object storage to achieve reliability through redundancy. The service, which is designed for 99.95% availability, spans data across multiple storage servers, and across availability domains. Although Oracle does not seem to provide a reliability metric, Oracle uses checksums to monitor data integrity, and offers a remediation mechanism that can automatically correct any data that is found to be corrupt.
Access to Oracle’s object storage is based on Oracle Cloud’s Infrastructure Identity and Access Management, which ensures that data is only accessible to authorized users who have been properly authenticated. Connectivity to Oracle’s object storage is based on the HTTPS protocol, which ensures that data access is SSL-encrypted. Additionally, Oracle encrypts data at rest using the AES-256 encryption algorithm.
Alibaba Cloud’s Object Storage Service (OSS) is designed to provide the best possible availability, security, and performance, while also being easy to integrate with existing workloads and third-party applications. The service guarantees 99.9% availability, and 99.99999999% reliability. In fact, Alibaba Cloud stores three complete copies of each object.
Clients access OSS using HTTPS-encrypted connectivity, and Alibaba Cloud also provides encrypted cloud storage to protect data at rest. Furthermore, the company has implemented defensive in-depth strategies to guard against things like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and unauthorized logging access.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to use Alibaba Cloud OSS is its raw performance. The service is rated to handle more than 50,000 requests per second, and supports multiple, simultaneous read/write requests. Within individual regions, Alibaba Cloud uses a Border Gateway Protocol multi-line network access system to achieve the best possible performance. In fact, the service is specifically designed to allow new content to be appended to an existing object, which makes it possible to playback a video even if the file has not yet been completely written.
Alibaba Cloud provides multiple integration methods for its cloud-based object storage. As you would probably expect, the object storage integrates seamlessly with other Alibaba Cloud services such as the Content Delivery Network (CDN) and the Elastic Compute Service (ECS). It is also possible to link web applications (including mobile web applications) to the service by using RESTful APIs, SDKs, and client tools. Alibaba also provides a dedicated console for accessing and monitoring object storage.
It is also worth noting that Alibaba Cloud offers automated data lifecycle management capabilities for object storage. Policies can be set that will automatically purge aging data, or transfer that data to lower-cost storage.
Alibaba Cloud is currently offering a free trial of their cloud services. You can register for a free trial subscription at: https://www.alibabacloud.com/campaign/free-trial#free-products. The trial includes a $300 credit that can be used to explore Alibaba’s various cloud offerings.
Although almost all cloud providers offer an object storage solution, not all object storage platforms are created equally. When evaluating your options, it is important to consider performance, reliability, security, and any extra features such as automated data lifecycle management.
Brien Posey is a Fixate IO contributor, and a 16-time Microsoft MVP with over two decades of IT experience. Prior to going freelance, Brien was CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He also served as lead network engineer for the United States Department of Defense at Fort Knox. Brien has also worked as a network administrator for some of the largest insurance companies in America. In addition to his continued work in IT, Brien has spent the last three years training as a Commercial Scientist-Astronaut Candidate for a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow Posey’s spaceflight training at www.brienposey.com/space
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