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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Types of Object Storage

The ANSI SCSI T10 OSD spec is not the only way to build Object Storage. My definition of Object Storage is any storage that:
    1) Groups the data into meaningful groupings (not based on the underlying physical storage) and;

    2) Associated properties with these objects.

Based on this definition, NFS servers were the first object storage. NFS servers store data in meaningful groupings, (files) and associate useful properties such as revision history, read-only vs writeable, and open state (open for read, write, etc.) Although fairly simple, this allows valuable functionality in the storage server. The storage server can use the associated properties to perform ILM functions. The revision history and file grouping enables intelligent backup or HSM. Traditional backup application can run on the storage server to do incremental backups, full backup of all files (vs. every block in the volume). Archiving/HSM file systems such as SAM-FS for Solaris can archive infrequently-accessed data to tape or lower tiers of storage.

Of course, NFS has had limited adoption due to limitations that are being fixed in NFS V4 and beyond and through the use of TOE NICs. More on that later...