What Is Object Storage?

Object storage, also known as object-based storage, is a type of data storage in which each unit of data is stored as a discrete unit called an object. An object can be a discrete unit, anything like a pdf, audio, image or video file. These objects can be virtually any type of data and any size. All objects in object storage are stored in a single, flat addresses space without a folder hierarchy.
Unlike file-type and block-type storage, object storage supports comprehensive metadata that helps describe a file. Metadata helps you understand and analyze large files without directly processing the content contained in the file.

Benefits of Object Storage

  • More Accessible: Object storage is driven by metadata, and with this level of classification for every piece of data, you can sort and search files easily.
  • Infinite storage: Object storage is not hardware dependent (not restricted to a single server or NAS)
  • Reduction in cost: Due to the scale-out nature of object storage, it's less costly to store all your data.
  • Optimization of resources: Because object storage does not have a filing hierarchy, and the metadata is completely customizable, there are far fewer hardware limitations than with file or block storage.

Object Storage Use Cases

There are multiple use cases for object storage, including:
  • Delivering rich media: Define workflows by leveraging industry-leading solutions for managing unstructured data. Reduce your costs for globally distributed rich media.
  • Managing distributed content: Optimize the value of your data throughout its lifecycle and deliver competitive storage services.
  • Embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) : Manage machine-to-machine data efficiently, support artificial intelligence and analytics, and compress the cost and time of the design process.

Object Storage Metadata

For a real-life example of why metadata makes a difference, we can look at how hospitals can store and process X-rays images of patients. An X-ray file would have limited metadata associated with it, such as created date, owner, location, and size. An X-ray object, on the other hand, could have a rich variety of metadata information.
The metadata could include patient name, date of birth, injury details, which area of the body was X-rayed – in addition to the same tags that the file had. This makes it incredibly useful for doctors to pull up the relevant information for reference.

Limitations of Object Storage

  • Slower access compared with Block Storage
  • Files cannot be edited; you need to rewrite/re-upload the entire file
  • Difficult to limit/define the storage location

What is Alibaba Cloud OSS (Object Storage Service)?

Alibaba Cloud OSS (Object Storage Service) is a storage service used to store objects. It is a highly available, durable, scalable and secure storage service for objects offered on Alibaba Cloud. This service can be used to store any type of object and hence can be used for applications like website data, backup and recovery, data archives etc.

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