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Data Storage

What is Data Storage?

Data storage refers both to the methods of transferring digital information from the source (users, applications, sensors) via protocols or APIs and to the destination; physical storage media such as magnetic or solid-state disks, tape, or optical. Data storage is pervasive:  implemented in enterprise data centers, cloud providers, and consumer technology such as laptops, and phones. 

From genomics and medical imaging to streaming video, electric cars, IoT at the edge and user generated data, unstructured data growth is exploding. Enterprise IT organizations are looking to new cloud and hybrid cloud strategies to manage costs and investing in unstructured data management and cloud data migration and cloud data management technologies and strategies to reduce data storage costs and while maximizing data value.

Graph showing unstructured data growing faster than structured data over time

What are the different types of data storage protocols?

File Data Storage: File storage records data to files that are organized in folders, and the folders are organized under a hierarchy of directories and subdirectories. For example, a text file stored to your home directory on your laptop. File data is typically used for collaboration and shared access.

Block Data Storage: Typically used in servers and workstations where data is being written directly to physical media (HDD or SSD) in chunks or blocks. In contrast to file, block data is typically dedicated for access by a single application. Block storage is often used for the most performance intensive applications.

  • Examples of Block Data Storage: Direct Attached Storage DAS, Storage Attached Network SAN, iSCSI, NVME
  • Block Storage Vendors: Pure FlashArray, Dell/EMC VMAX, NetApp ONTAP and E-series, HDS

Object Storage: Also known as object-based storage or cloud storage, is a way of addressing and manipulating data storage as objects. In contrast to file storage, object data is stored in a flat namespace. Object storage was designed for use in massive repositories and is accessed over the HTTP protocol as a REST API.

  • Examples of Object Storage: AWS S3, Azure Blob, Google Cloud Storage, Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI)
  • Object Storage Vendors: AWS, Azure, Google, Wasabi, Cloudian, NetApp, Dell/EMC, Scality

NDMP (Network Data Management Protocol): Storage protocol that allows file servers and backup applications to communicate directly to a network-attached tape device for backup or recovery operations.

What are types of physical storage media?

  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD): Disk based storage, used for high density data storage. Data is written to a magnetic layer of spinning disk.
  • Solid State Drive (SSD): Also known as flash. Silicone replaces the spinning disk component of HDD to achieve higher performance and smaller form factor.
  • Tape: Data is written to a ribbon of magnetic material in a cartridge. Used strictly for backup and archive, tape’s slow performance is off set by low cost, high levels of density, and the ability to be stored offline. 
  • Optical Storage: In contrast to magnetic storage data is recorded optically to media such as CD and DVD disks. Optical storage is used for durable, long term, off-line, archival storage. 

What is Primary Storage?

Primary storage is used for active read and write data sets where high performance is critical. SSD or flash media with the highest level of performance is the ideal storage media for primary storage. While less typical HDD is also used as primary storage where lower cost and storage density is the key factor.

What is Secondary Storage?

Also referred to as active archive, secondary storage is used for less frequently accessed data sets. While any protocol and media can be used for secondary storage HDD with NAS and Object are the most common choices. Use cases for secondary storage is data tiering and backup / data protection applications.

Read the white paper: Block-Level vs. File Level Tiering

What is Data Storage?

Data storage refers both to the methods of transferring digital information from the source (users, applications, sensors) via protocols or APIs and to the destination; physical storage media such as magnetic or solid-state disks, tape, or optical.

What is Block Level Data Storage?

Mainly used in servers and workstations where data is being written directly to physical media (HDD or SSD) in chunks or blocks. As opposed to file level data storage, block level data storage is mostly dedicated for access by a single application. Block storage uses either direct attached storage (DAS), or data transfer protocols Fiber Channel (FC) or iSCSI (Internet Small Computer Systems Interface) via a storage area network (SAN).

What is Data Lake Storage in Azure?

Data Lake Storage in Azure from Microsoft is a fully managed scalable system based on a secure cloud platform that provides industry-standard, cost-effective storage for big data analytics.

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