Table of Contents
The market landscape for object storage has been changing quickly and radically. The S3 protocol is now a standard for many applications, and developers are adopting it for a growing number of use cases. Object stores evolved from cheap deep storage repositories to solutions that can support multiple workloads and applications concurrently. Even though object storage performance cannot be compared to that of file and block storage, the latest iterations of the technology demonstrated that it can indeed be used for high-performance applications. (Note that a separate Radar report on high-performance object storage is available as well.)
The most critical evaluation metrics remain $/GB and scalability but, as a result of changing user needs, efficiency and flexibility are becoming equally important. In fact, the market saw an increase in use cases and user needs, including multitenancy and performance, that directly impacted these.
Users started to take advantage of object storage directly as a primary target for most applications that require storing large amounts of data. For example, many backup products are now able to use object storage as the primary repository and make the most of its object immutability characteristics for enhanced security. The same goes for data analytics products, which can now use object stores to access active data. Furthermore, it is clear that part of the growth in enterprise object storage in the last year, both public and private, is attributable to the many digital transformation initiatives that enterprises started because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In such cases, object storage is the best choice because of its accessibility characteristics compared to other solutions.
It is also important to note that object stores are becoming a common data service deployed on top of or alongside Kubernetes. This is another sign of the changed role that object storage is taking on in many IT infrastructures.
These new directions brought about several challenges in product development. Vendors now need to offer optimizations for small files, advanced analytics, better ease of use, and a lower entry point for their solutions, while keeping the system balanced for traditional, less interactive workloads. In fact, with the need to efficiently manage large numbers of small files, hybrid and all-flash clusters became more common, though many vendors are not yet ready to provide the necessary optimizations to take advantage of this media or, in some cases, to provide enough flexibility for data movement across tiers in relatively small systems. To adequately respond to these new challenges, several vendors are currently navigating a transition phase, with the goal of rearchitecting their solutions to become more Kubernetes-friendly and better optimized for next-generation workloads and needs.
How to Read this Report
This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.
GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.