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How open source object storage will help enterprises grow

How open source object storage will help enterprises grow
(Image credit: Shutterstock / carlos castilla)

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that the world economy relies on data to keep running. There’s no doubt that without the technology to effectively store and transfer data – whether that be company finances, video conferencing streams or sending a large file to a colleague – we’d be much worse off.

However these recent successes are distracting from a broader truth: that businesses simply aren’t making the most of their data. This is shown starkly in a recent report from Seagate, Rethink Data, with research from IDC: on average enterprises fail to take advantage of 68% of data available to them. Compounding this challenge is the fact that over the next two years, global enterprise data is set to grow at a 42% annual growth rate.

All this data represents tremendous untapped value for enterprises looking to recover and return to growth in 2021 and beyond. But to get to that value, we’ve got to look under the hood of ‘the cloud’, examine the technologies that help enterprises use their data, and explore ways to make that technology more accessible. In the coming years, open source object-based storage technology will become a key factor in helping enterprises unlock value from that 68% of unused data.

What is object storage?

File storage architecture is what most people will be familiar with, where data is stored in a file architecture analogous to a filing cabinet, and your computer needs to know a specific pathway to find the data you’re looking for. However, this architecture is inefficient for very large datasets, leading many enterprises to opt for an object storage model instead.

With object storage, each piece of data gets its own metadata marker and is treated the same as every other piece of data: no folders, hierarchies, or organizing structures, everything is stored together in one big pool. This approach has several advantages: enterprises can add as much data as they like with object storage, and the architecture can scale with them infinitely. Object storage means better performance when handling large files and massive datasets, and has more room for metadata customization as well, meaning that businesses can perform more data analytics.

Economic challenges

Today, the vast majority of public cloud storage companies use object-based storage architecture, so it’s fair to say that as consumers we use it every day. These businesses benefit from the cost efficiency of mass-capacity disk drives and object-storage to maximize capacity and performance at a relatively low cost to their customers.

However, for large enterprises the public cloud is fast becoming unfeasible, given the cost involved when dealing with large data sets. As a result, large businesses ranging from manufacturing to banking and finance to scientific organizations have opted for a multicloud model, where they essentially create their own internal cloud for their data.

But the economic challenges don’t end there for enterprises. In order to implement object storage in their internal cloud architecture, they often need to select a specific vendor for the software to manage the data, and that comes with its own associated costs. As it turns out, making your enterprise data ready to be analyzed and used effectively is a long and complex process.

There’s an open source world out there

Enterprises storing and analyzing their data with object-based storage gain access to a wide variety of beneficial and innovative use cases, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, hybrid cloud, edge computing and more. Open source software is now a viable alternative for enterprises looking to reduce the costs associated with object-based storage, while retaining these benefits.

Open source software can spur greater innovation, with better security and better software, while also reducing IT costs. Enterprises using open source solutions can store more of their data on private or edge clouds without having to pay costly license fees from independent software vendors, or the high cost of storage in public clouds.

At Seagate we have a proud history of involvement in object storage, starting with the company’s involvement in the first object storage specification, the SNIA OSD standard. Today, Seagate carries that forward with CORTX, an open-source object-storage software solution with its own collaborative community on GitHub.

Against a backdrop of rapid change and uncertainty, it’s understandable that enterprises are looking to reduce their cost base and find new areas for revenue growth. With open-source object-storage, they can do both. Open source enables the business to reduce its IT overheads while also benefitting from the work of a wider ecosystem. Object-storage architecture enables enterprises to unlock the value of their rapidly growing business data more effectively than ever before. 68% of enterprise data is going unused: it’s time to set it free.

  • Ken Claffey, Vice President and General Manager of the Enterprise Data Solutions business within Seagate.