Key Criteria for Evaluating Enterprise Object Storagev1.0

Featuring GigaOm Go Award Winners

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Object Storage Primer
  3. Evaluation Criteria
  4. Table Stakes
  5. Key Criteria
  6. Critical Features: Impact Analysis
  7. Near-Term Game-Changing Technology
  8. Conclusion

1. Summary

Every aspect of data storage, access, and management has changed in the last fifteen years. The internet, high-speed networks, cloud, powerful mobile devices, and IoT have profoundly changed how data is created and consumed by users and applications. Digital transformation processes embraced by most organizations have further amplified the need for data to be accessed from anywhere, any device, and at any time. It is a trend that is unstoppable, and traditional storage technologies are simply not up to the task. With access methods, protocols, parallelism, and scalability requirements that are often beyond the possibilities of these types of systems, enterprises need new solutions to build sustainable IT infrastructures and face ever-growing challenges.

Object storage is a data storage technology that has been commercially available since the early 2000s; however, it was limited to long term archiving applications. It was with the advent of the cloud and Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3) that object storage found broader adoption. The number of use cases grew to cover several types of workloads, allowing consolidation of huge amounts of data onto large repositories that are easily accessible and manageable. In this report, we detail the GigaOm Go Award winners based on the report methodology.

Object Storage solutions are summarized as well in Figure 7 below.

Figure 7: Object Storage Solution Summary

Report Methodology

A Key Criteria report analyzes the most important features of a technology category to understand how they impact an enterprise and its IT organization. Features are grouped into three categories:

  1. Table Stakes
  2. Key Criteria
  3. Critical Impact of Features on the Evaluation Metrics
  4. Near-term game-changing technology

The goal is to help organizations evaluate capabilities and build a mid-to-long-term infrastructure strategy. In a mature technology, the solutions are divided into three target market categories: enterprise, high-performance, and specialized solutions. In a mature market, these differ in their characteristics and how they can be integrated with existing infrastructures. Given that, the evaluation is more dependent on the specific user’s needs and not solely on the organization’s vertical market.

GigaOm Go Awards

GigaOm Go Awards are granted for noteworthy product features and capabilities and for the impact that a vendor implementation has on the metrics. Go Awards are assigned to a specific product, and their primary goal is to give the reader a quick market overview on the most interesting implementations available in the market and how they can be valuable for the user. Go Awards are not meant to compare solutions that are positioned in different categories. For example, Go Awards for the best impact on TCO could be assigned to an enterprise and to a small-medium business product simultaneously but for different reasons.

Table Stakes

Tables stakes are system characteristics and features that are important when choosing the right solution. They include architectural choices that depend on the organization size, its requirements, the expected growth over time, and the types of workloads. Table stakes are mature and the implementation of these features will not add any business advantage nor significant change to the TCO or ROI of the infrastructure.

Key Criteria

Key criteria features really differentiate one solution from another. Depending on real user needs, they have a positive impact on one or more of the metrics mentioned. Therefore, implementation details are essential for understanding the benefits relative to the infrastructure, processes, or business. 
Following table stakes and key criteria, aspects like architecture design and implementation regain importance and need to be analyzed in great detail. In some cases, the features described in the Key Criteria section are the solution core, and the rest of the system is designed around them. This could be an important benefit for organizations that see a real practical advantage about them, but it also poses some risks in the long term. In fact, over time the differentiation introduced by a feature becomes less relevant and falls into the table stakes group, while new system capabilities introduce new benefits or address new needs, with a positive impact on the metrics like TCO, performance, flexibility, and so on.

Key criteria brings several benefits to organizations of all sizes and with different business needs. It is organized to give the reader a brief description of the specific functionality or technology, its benefits in general terms, and what to expect from a good implementation. To give a complete picture, we also include examples of the most interesting implementations currently available in the market.

Critical Impact of Features on the Evaluation Metrics

Technology, functionality, and architecture designs that have demonstrated their value are adopted by other vendors, become a standard, and lose their status as a differentiator. Initially, the implementation of these key criteria was crucial to deliver real value, perhaps with some trade-offs. The most important metrics for the evaluation of a technology solution include:

  • Cost per Gigabyte ($/GB)
  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Manageability
  • Ecosystem
  • Total Cost of Ownership

This section provides the impact individual features have on the metrics at the moment of report publication. Each feature is scored from 1-5, with a score of five having the most impact on an enterprise. This is not absolute and should always be verified with the organization’s requirements and use case. Strategic decisions can then be based on the impact each metric can have on the infrastructure, system management, and IT processes already in place with particular emphasis on ROI and TCO.

Near-term Game-changing Technology

In this report section, we analyze the most interesting technologies that are on the horizon over the next 12 to 18 months. Some are already present in some form but usually as part of niche products or to address very specific use cases. In either case, at this stage, implementations available are not mature enough to be grouped in key criteria. Yet, when implemented correctly and efficiently, this technology can really make a difference to the metrics.

Over time, game-changing features become key criteria and the cycle repeats. Therefore, to get the best ROI, it is important to check what vendors offer today and what they plan to release in the near future.

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