Why Scalability is Key When Storing Unstructured Data and Choosing the Right Storage Provider

If your business is storing significant amounts of unstructured data, you absolutely must make sure that your storage is built to handle the specific challenges that you are sure to face in the future – namely scalability. Fortunately, there are now systems designed with new modular architectures that “future-proof” your online data to ensure it doesn't all come falling down due to scalability issues. The question is, which one is right for your business? Here are the things you absolutely must consider when storing large amounts of unstructured data on the Web.

Is Object Storage or NAS Storage Best for Big Data?

As unstructured data  continues to grow at rapid rates, businesses have begun to question whether or not their storage systems can handle the inevitable influx of emails, videos, tweets, and other forms of unstructured data that have suddenly become crucial to their businesses. There is no doubt that NAS and Object storage both have advantages and drawbacks. Which one will suit your needs will depend on a number of factors.

NAS storage is best if you:

  • Find that consistency for your critical applications is of the utmost importance;
  • Require access to shared applications that are POSIX-compliant;
  • Require mixed workloads of both large and small files; and
  • Require more consistency in the quality of service you receive.

Object storage will serve you best if you:

  • Find that your cost per GB is one of your higher considerations, even over performance (such as for archive and backup uses);
  • You require the ability to scale to billions (or more) of objects inside of one single cluster domain; and
  • You have the need for global distribution of your data, such as multiple copies in numerous geographies.

A Checklist for Ensuring Your Vendor Can Meet Your Scalability Needs

So, once you have figured out which type of storage is best for your large unstructured data storage needs, how do you go about making sure you find the best possible provider to make sure your solution provides you with the best uptime possible, avoiding disastrous downtime situations? Considering that rapid storage growth has been at the core of some of the most disastrous episodes of Internet-related outages, it’s important to ensure your vendor truly can meet your scalability needs. Here is a checklist of things to look out for.

Make Sure Your Vendor Understands Scale Out as an Architecture

This is especially true if you decide to go with NAS storage. While object storage also needs to be able to handle scalability, it usually is able to do so based on its own merits. However, if you decide to go with an NAS storage provider you want to make sure you don’t go with one who holds to traditional scalability standards, in which heads connect to disk controllers and back-end arrays. Instead, look for NAS storage providers that are scalability orientated and use nodes connected to storage resources using distributed controllers.

Ensure They Realize That Redundancy is Key

When it comes to the success of your unstructured data’s scalability, one of the keys will be redundancy and you need a vendor who understands this. Make sure you go with a vendor who uses clustered resources for redundancy to prevent scalability headaches in the future.

Confirm They Can Expand Resources as Needed

As with any type of online venture, your scalability success will depend on your vendor’s ability to expand resources as needed the moment it is needed. Make sure you discuss “what if” scenarios with any potential vendor before you sign on the dotted line or make any long-term commitments to ensure they can meet your needs by expanding as necessary when the times arise.

Looking at the Big Picture

While it is only natural that one or two of these things will be of predominant importance to you, you want to make sure that you ensure that you take all of these factors into account when deciding which type of storage is best for your business and which vendor is the right vendor to meet your needs. By keeping the above in mind, you can ensure you start with the right storage provider from the get go.