By Giorgio Regni, CTO, Scality
What if you could improve data access and enable instant collaboration for your remote workforce — while also strengthening security? Object storage makes this possible. Yet another reason why it’s rapidly becoming the go-to storage platform of the modern era.
With the rise of remote work and cloud services, IT pros are under increasing pressure to keep data from becoming inaccessible, disorganized and at-risk. Add mounting ransomware threats to the mix, and a data management headache can quickly become a nightmare. Fortunately, object storage can improve IT operations and services — and, by extension, business as a whole — by keeping data organized, accessible and secure.
A majority of data (80% to 90%, according to multiple analyst estimates) is unstructured information like text, audio, video, social media, web server logs, etc. Unlike structured data — which is organized in a searchable format, like a database — unstructured data doesn’t adhere to conventional data models, making it harder to manage using traditional techniques.
Also, as cloud services grow, it’s tougher to track where and how data is stored and accessed, adding complexity to the challenge of getting employees to adhere to data security best practices in order to reduce risk. These issues affect each and every business sector that depends on data storage and access — government, finance and healthcare being especially high-stakes.
Why the work-from-home model requires a new approach to data storage
Though some businesses have returned to a traditional office setting, others have permanently adopted a work-from-home (WFH) model. By the end of 2022, 25% of all professional employment in North America will be remote. And most businesses have embraced a hybrid arrangement where employees spend some days at work and others at home.
Because organizations don’t have the same type of data access perimeter they used to, adjusting to remote work requires a different data storage strategy. Accessing corporate data and applications from outside the physical “office” opens organizations to increased cybersecurity risk. Some companies turn to VPNs or other technologies for providing secure access — but these can be clunky and hard to use.
The answer to keeping data secure and accessible for remote workers
Using object storage, remote workers can securely access data without using a VPN or granting other types of privileged access. By design, object storage serves the purpose of giving thousands of employees instant and simultaneous secure access to shared data through many different remote connections and devices (including tablets, phones and laptops). In fact, the technology was originally created to address this very problem for hyperscalers like AWS.
Advantages of object storage for facilitating remote work
The struggle to manage data for remote workers will continue (and worsen) if IT pros don’t take a fresh look at their data storage strategy. IT can solve this challenge by bringing a modern, cloud-like object storage service into their on-premises environments for streamlined data accessibility and management. Such a solution also has the effects of improving data organization, reducing the time it takes users to find and retrieve data, and simplifying data sharing across users and departments.
On that last point, object storage improves data sharing by combining a greater range of workloads onto fewer platforms. The data-sharing features that object storage offers are essential for analytics teams — they need them to run complex analysis workloads. Also, object storage provides the performance these teams require.
Object storage has other technical advantages, too:
- Object storage is simpler to upgrade and expand because it is software-defined. Hardware-defined systems lack flexibility, which makes incorporating new technologies more difficult — or impossible.
- Server-based storage uses replicas for backup, and that can be pricy. Erasure coding is used in object storage, which slashes backup and storage costs. Because compute and storage resources are separated, you can scale each independently on an as-needed basis — you don’t need to overspend as you grow.
- Because data is distributed broadly, performance is unaffected when a drive fails. Object storage produces greater availability and redundancy.
- IT teams can quickly add extra storage for projects with high-storage requirements, like video. In contrast to conventional storage formats, this unlimited scalability can open up new possibilities.
Tips for maximizing success with an object storage solution
To get the most out of your object storage solution, make sure you train staff so they can use it successfully. Next, transfer data as quickly as you can to the solution. This will shorten the time it takes to discover and retrieve data.
Better organization of your data also requires integration of your object storage solution with your other programs. To break down silos and guarantee that everyone has access to the data they need to make critical business decisions, exchange data among various departments and users.
Modernizing storage for today’s enterprises and the era of remote work
Adopting these object storage best practices will give you observable business benefits, such as improved productivity, security and satisfaction with IT services. The result? Less shadow IT and a competitive advantage over rivals who are unable to efficiently manage their data.
Today’s cloud-driven enterprises, particularly those with WFH policies, need stronger security as well as any productivity edge they can get. Saving on storage expenses is also a plus. Object storage should be at the top of enterprises’ lists as they look for ways to modernize storage and better enable remote work to meet present and future needs.
Read more on this topic in my recent piece for Enterprise Viewpoint.