Object based storage is an architecture that is designed to manage huge amounts of data, in particular, unstructured data like emails, photos, videos, web info, sensor transmitted data and so much more. By 2025, IDC predicts the Storage Sphere will swell to about 7.5 zettabytes of data annually that must be stored and managed, 80 to 90% of it will be unstructured data  and about 60% will be cold or dark data. In this BlogBytes we will discuss object based storage and how active archiving can assist data centers to cope with the onslaught of unstructured information and cold data while controlling costs and protecting data with help from LTO technology. Read on!


IT organizations today are finding it difficult to store and manage the ever-increasing amount of unstructured data efficiently and economically. How do you manage this much data? This challenge takes the traditional considerations of budget, resource, and even fundamental physical rack space in the data center to a new level. Object based storage (OBS) has emerged as a methodology to help achieve those objectives. OBS can help provide an always on data repository with the scalability needed to handle unstructured data in the range of petabytes and exabytes, and is considered to be well above the threshold of traditional forms of storage like block or file based systems.


As explained at Searchstorage.com, “object-based storage is an approach to addressing and manipulating data storage as discrete units, called objects. Objects are kept inside a single repository and are not nested as files inside a folder inside other folders. Object storage keeps the blocks of data that make up a file together and adds all of its associated metadata to that file.

This metadata is the key to the value of object storage versus other methods of storing data.” The organization can define the metadata which enables analytics on the use, function and value of the data. Affordably storing and protecting the data long term is critical to remain competitive in today’s global commerce.


Since most of this big unstructured information is cold data, that is, rarely accessed, it would be wasteful spending to store it long term on expensive storage media like HDDs or flash storage when tape data storage can do it economically and provide outstanding data security.  Some would argue that in order to accelerate business transformation through the use of big data, that data must be accessible and ‘always on’.

At the LTO Program, even we can acknowledge that there is some logic to this. For example, if you could afford to keep all of your data on disk or flash, tape might be considered unnecessary –except that tape would still be an exceptional defense against cybersecurity threats and tape is green providing low energy consumption. However, in the long run, disk and cloud based TCO are more costly than Tape TCO and disk areal density growth potential is inferior to tape areal density growth potential.

Tape storage is thriving particularly for active archiving. For a small percentage of customers, perhaps there is enough value in keeping all their data on high performance storage. But, for the majority, if you use tape in an active archive, you can manage, access and protect your data and can get low TCO and save energy.  With so much cold data this is far more likely to be the paradigm.


Active archive systems can scale to billions of objects, move content automatically and use a simple GUI interface that is familiar to most users.  Innovative solutions are now coming to market that can allow you to store native object format data directly to LTO tape.  These let you use tape seamlessly with S3 data sources like AWS or Azure or 3rd Party software defined storage and move content between tiers with little fuss and to use offerings. Some solutions bring the performance benefits and search capabilities of native, S3-compatible object storage to tape-based deep archives. Others give you the option to archive data to public clouds, private clouds or tape according to business need and budget.

Tape is a viable, practical and easy to use component of this exciting, cloud-driven, data enabled future, plus, you still get all the core benefits of LTO technology including low TCO and offline protection against malware, software failures, system failures, and human errors that could otherwise replicate throughout an object storage disk-based system.

Suffice it to say, whether your data is stored on block, file or object storage, you will be able to move it to tape for affordable protection and then use software defined storage to make data searchable and accessible based on your cost/performance requirements. See more about the value of tape here.