Over the last few years, the amount of unstructured data has exploded. According to IDC, enterprises expect their data to grow by 30% annually, on average. Unstructured data often grows at an even higher rate. This growth is forcing healthcare, insurance, and financial companies—among other industries—to rethink their approach to storing, protecting, and accessing data. They need a way to prove the data they’re basing decisions on has as much fidelity as the source data.
As a side effect of its explosive growth, unstructured data has become an untapped resource with huge potential to generate value. Line-of-business stakeholders are looking to mine insights from that data. End users do not necessarily know where data is stored, but they know what they want to do with it. They need it to be stored in a way that’s not only auditable and secure, but that allows them to extract its insights and value.
While structured data often needs to be stored in the same place as the workload (think of use cases like real-time fraud detection), unstructured data often does not. Storing vast troves of unstructured data on public cloud infrastructure is an option, but accessing it is expensive. Cloud object storage is a fast-growing and cost-effective way for organizations to resolve this conundrum. By storing data in object format, clients can leverage their existing data centers to store unstructured data while ensuring all departments have access to the data they need.
How Object Storage Works
Legacy databases create structure around how data is stored. Object storage takes another approach by tagging data on ingestion. This means that end users can access data without worrying about where the data is physically located.
The protocol itself is immutable. You can edit data, but the system sees the edited version as a net new piece of data. Data stored in an object format is thus protected both by its format and by controls around how users access it, which is almost always programmatically using APIs. This ensures data stays where you want it, in the forms and formats you left it in, and still remains accessible to the business users who need it.
While public cloud providers offer cloud object storage, ensuring public cloud storage complies with regulatory requirements is a roadblock for many healthcare and financial organizations. Another option is building a private cloud using existing on-premise data centers, which is now feasible thanks to IBM’s recent innovations around Cloud Object Storage.
A Brief Look at IBM Cloud Object Storage
When IBM developed its globally distributed public cloud it acquired Cleversafe, an object storage pioneer. IBM evolved the product into IBM Cloud Object Storage, which became the storage repository for IBM Cloud. Enterprises that are looking for an object storage solution benefit from the evolution in scalability that occurred when IBM adapted Cloud Object Storage for a public cloud environment.
Erasure Coding Protects Data at Scale
IBM Cloud Object Storage supports scaling through a combination of its data storage protocol and modular architecture. As it stores data, its Information Dispersal Algorithm encrypts and encodes that single copy of data using erasure coding. So, if somebody accesses a portion of the data, they can’t recreate the entire data set. It also simultaneously allows you to reconstruct the original copy of the data in case of any failures or loss of portions of the data.
Many systems are available that use erasure coding, but IBM is unique in allowing erasure coding across multiple sites, so clients do not lose efficiency or need to replicate if you deploy across multiple sites. Clients retain access as long as another site or part of the infrastructure is still active. Creating copies of large data sets at multiple sites would be costly and difficult, so erasure coding is a key advantage of IBM Cloud Object Storage.
Scalable by Design
As you add additional disk drive storage or servers, IBM Cloud Object Storage automatically redistributes data across these new devices in the background, without any operator intervention or the need to shut systems down. It enables you to scale processing and storage capacity separately and distribute servers across multiple locations so you can continue to access data even if an outage occurs at a particular site.
You can start small then scale up to a system that supports exabytes of data. IBM Cloud Object Storage in effect transforms your existing on-premise data center into a private cloud, providing efficient infrastructure, better control, and increased security.
How We Can Help
Evolving Solutions works at the front end to understand your business workflow. Object storage is new and exciting, but it is not always the best option. Sometimes clients need higher-performance fibre channel storage (SAN). Sometimes they need physical tape which is still the least expensive option. For use cases where you are archiving files that do not need super quick access (think internet speeds, not data center database speeds), IBM Cloud Object Storage is ideal. It costs much less than traditional mirroring or public cloud alternatives.
Once we’ve understood your requirements, we help procure the solution at an optimal price from IBM, preconfigure the equipment at our facility, deliver it to your site, and then teach you everything we know about how to administer it and why it was architected the way it was.
We typically architect the solution over three sites to ensure you can still read and write data if you lose an entire site. It’s also available with consumption-based pricing, which employs same equipment but hits your books differently.
The process can be cumbersome, but with a partner like Evolving Solutions by your side, the process is much more straightforward, no matter if your implementation is on-prem or in the IBM Cloud. Contact us to learn more about meeting your storage capacity needs.