Understanding the Use Cases for Object Storage and Block Storage

The technique used to store data files on Storage Area Networks (SANs) or cloud-based storage systems is known as block storage, sometimes known as block-level storage. When it comes to computing scenarios that call for quick, effective, and dependable data transfer, developers prefer block storage.

Data is divided up into blocks using block storage, which then saves the individual, uniquely identified blocks as independent units. The SAN places these blocks of data wherever it is most effective. This implies that it can save those blocks on various systems and that every block can be set up (or partitioned) to function on several operating systems.

Data can be dispersed across several settings thanks to block storage's ability to isolate it from consumers' environments. The user can easily obtain the data due to the multiple paths that are created for it. The fundamental storage system reconstitutes the data blocks and provides the data to the app or user when an application or a user requests data from a block storage device.

File Vs. Object Vs. Block Storage

In the realm of data storage, block storage is not the only option. In addition, developers employ other platforms like file and object storage. Each storage solution has a different approach to retrieving and storing data, even if the end purpose is to offer data to users and apps.

Object Storage

Data files are divided up into units called objects in object storage, sometimes referred to as object-based storage. After that, it keeps those items in a single repository that can be distributed among numerous networked systems.

How each manages metadata is a key distinction between object storage and block storage. Metadata for data files saved in an object can be changed in object storage to include more specific information. For instance, the metadata that comes with a video clip can be altered to reveal information about the location where the film was shot, the sort of camera that was used, and even the subjects that were visible in every frame. Metadata in block storage is restricted to fundamental file properties.

Because every file modification results in a new object's production, block storage is considered ideal for static files that aren't modified frequently.

File Storage

File storage, also known as file-level storage or file-based storage, is frequently related to Network Attached Storage (NAS) technologies. NAS uses the same philosophy as a typical network file system to offer storage to both applications and users. In other words, data is sent to the application or user via individual files, directory trees, and folders.   Similar to a local hard disk, this works. However, file sharing, access rights, file locking, as well as other controls are handled by the Network Operating System (NOS) or NAS.

Block Storage Examples

Raw storage volumes can be created with block storage and connected to by server-based OS. Those uncompressed volumes can be used as separate hard drives. As a result, you can use block storage for a wide range of applications, such as virtual machine file system (VMFS) volumes, database storage, file storage, and much more.

Consider the introduction of virtual machines throughout a company. To save the VMFS, you can effectively build and configure a block-based storage capacity utilizing block storage. Multiple virtual computers can then be created by connecting a physical server to that block. Additionally, users are able to exchange files using the native OS after developing a block-based volume, setting up an OS, and connecting to that volume.

Containers or Block Storage

Block storage is perfect for containers because of its built-in flexibility. Similar to how virtualization separates operating systems from the actual hardware, containers abstract programs from OS. You can quickly build and deploy containers using block storage.

The efficiency of block storage and the innate capability for a single host to install numerous blocks make containerization, where several containers are coordinated in a business setting, advantageous.

Storage Area Network

Block storage is frequently set up by programmers utilizing a Storage Area Network (SAN). A computer network called SAN provides users with access to data storage. Block storage is presented by SANs to other network infrastructures as though it were a locally attached device. To access a block as if it were a locally accessed volume, a server can communicate to a SAN using a data network connection, like  Infiniband, Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI), or Fibre Channel. A SAN can be configured with numerous storage arrays, and various servers can be connected to it.

A SAN is made up of numerous components or layers. The server, which runs a networking operating system, is linked to the data network by a host bus adapter card, which is linked to the storage network by a cable. This is the first layer, known as the host layer. The fabric layer, which is a group of devices including SAN routers, gateway devices, switches, protocol bridges, and cables, is linked to the host layer. The storage layer, which is composed of the actual storage hardware like optical media, or disk drives, communicates with the fabric layer.

RAID Arrays

Block storage doesn’t really offer a lot of redundancy on its own, hence RAID arrays should be taken into account for any mission-critical block storage design. When data is written to two or even more drives and protected by a redundant array of independent disks - RAID, it can typically be replaced if one disk fails even without customers being alerted of a break in service.

Block Storage as Free and Open Source Software

With new projects starting virtually every day and existing ones getting better and adding more functionality, open source replacements to conventional vendor-centric SAN systems are on the rise. Block storage and software-defined RAID are both offered by the open-source project FreeNAS, and Openfiler, another open-source storage system, also provides compatibility for both.

While open source has a lot of potential for the storage industry, it does demand knowledge to ensure performance, thus today’s storage managers will need to rely on suppliers for support and service.

Related Articles

Explore More Special Offers

  1. Short Message Service(SMS) & Mail Service

    50,000 email package starts as low as USD 1.99, 120 short messages start at only USD 1.00

phone Contact Us