Unstructured data storage showdown: Object storage vs scale-out NAS

Last updated:September 2016

Editor's note

Data is growing exponentially with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Luckily, a number of products on the market are designed to deal with unstructured data storage. Object storage and scale-out NAS are two major contenders in this field. Popular for their scalability, capacity and performance, the two storage technologies have similar benefits but they are not interchangeable.

Prior to the introduction of scale-out NAS, the choice between object and network-attached storage was a bit easier. If you wanted scalability, you went with object storage and its unique approach to storing files and metadata. Object storage systems forgo a traditional, hierarchical file storage system by assigning a unique identifier to each file and its metadata. Scalability is increased, as the physical location of data becomes irrelevant. Object storage is particularly attractive to cloud storage providers because of its massive scalability and shared tenancy features, especially in comparison to traditional file or block-based storage.

Unlike the conventional NAS systems that preceded them, scale-out NAS not only can handle unstructured data storage, but it can simplify storage management, boost capacity and improve performance. With scale-out NAS, new hardware can be added and configured on an as-needed basis. When the storage limit is reached, simply add another array to the system to expand capacity. Storage can be accessed and controlled across different arrays, keeping management simple as hardware is added. However, scale-out NAS may not be the best fit for enterprises with large numbers of small files.

In this essential guide, we'll dive into the differences between object storage and scale-out NAS, and how they match up against each other.

1Growing in popularity

An attractive alternative to traditional NAS, object storage systems assign a unique identifier to each file and its metadata. The physical location of the data becomes irrelevant and scalability is increased significantly. View the following links to see what the buzz is about and how object storage stacks up against other storage options.

2Object storage vs. scale-out NAS

There are advantages to both object storage and scale-out NAS, but does one trump the other? Both are good options for tackling unstructured data storage, but an organization's specific needs will be the deciding factor.