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Data assets, particularly unstructured data files, are growing at an unprecedented rate, something like 30% per year. Organizations in all industries are needing to manage massive unstructured asset volumes while making users’ files easily accessible for everyday use. You need the most effective ways to manage these app files, videos, pictures, and other objects you’re collecting throughout your company while hopefully finding affordable enterprise cloud storage.

The binary large object (BLOB or blob) data type and definition were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s to describe data that traditional computer database systems couldn’t store because these items were too large. The blob data type became practical when disk space became cheap and enterprise cloud storage more affordable.

Today’s blob storage offers revolutionary levels of scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. It provides a solution for much of your existing data, and allows you to continue to produce and store as much data as you need.

What Is Blob Storage?

Conventional blob enterprise cloud storage accommodates huge amounts of unstructured data in a binary form that doesn’t conform to any one file format. In public and multi-clouds, this data is often held in non-hierarchical storage areas called data lakes.

This type of object storage needs to be highly scalable to accommodate the proliferating assets you are generating. Blob storage is cloud-native, programming-language agnostic, and can be incredibly affordable. And because blobs are traditionally hosted in the enterprise storage cloud, it’s a natural fit for organizations that already use and rely on the cloud for unstructured data storage.

In Panzura’s cloud file system, CloudFS, blob content files and their associated metadata are first written to a local node, sent to the central object store, then sent to all nodes in the network. From then on, if the local node has the original content file, only lightweight metadata is updated and shared with all nodes each time there’s a change. In addition to working without the need for storage-adding backup copies, CloudFS has the advantage of assuring that the most current file is always and quickly accessible no matter which user around the world is accessing it. This system works differently than most, however. Other schemes collect all unstructured data assets into one centralized location and automatically replicate data within specific regions for added redundancy. Other vendor cloud service options include:

 1. Pricing and cost

Vendor enterprise blob cloud storage offers competitive pricing using data tiering and pricing structures based on cloud data storage, transfer, and access. The price you pay depends on your unstructured data cloud storage needs. Common is data tiered pricing that tries to optimize costs by moving less frequently accessed data to lower-cost tiers. Unstructured data that’s frequently used can be held in more expensive tiers for quicker access. The three types of cloud storage tiers are hot, cool, and archive. You choose an appropriate level of availability and cost efficiency for your data. Cloud services also offer security for data sharing.

Panzura differs in that, if the local node has room for the file, or your admin pins it to remain in cache, it will always be immediately available.

2. Storage options

Cloud vendor storage options range from block, append, and page blobs that can each be used for specific file types and use cases—to object storage in “a bucket” that holds any type of data. Both of these options work for storing large volumes of unstructured data.

Panzura’s always compressed block storage, and lightweight metadata, is stored in your object store of choice. Panzura does not specify which cloud vendor (or on-prem location) you use for the object store and does not charge for storage.

Cloud platform vendors offer similar security features, such as encryption at rest and in transit. They also support access control mechanisms to manage and restrict data access such as Active Directory or Identity and Access Management (IAM) for authentication.

Panzura does the same.

3. Global availability and compliance

Cloud providers can be globally available. They may support data replication within a single region or across multiple regions, or alternately allow cross-region replication and versioning to enhance data availability and durability.

Panzura lets you breakup with backups.

Consider Your Needs

An enterprise cloud blob can be great, but if your cloud storage volumes are already huge, and you are using on-prem storage, moving it to a private, public, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud situation is probably not going to be a fast or inexpensive process. If you’re using an on-premises resource like network attached storage (NAS) with the associated costs of square footage, lighting, cooling, computer hardware and software, maintenance, and humanpower, you might be looking for a lower cost alternative that offers a very secure and stepwise migration option.

Likewise, if you are interested in reducing your existing cloud storage costs, and who isn’t, there are new alternatives you should consider. Unstructured file access time is another consideration. These files are large and trading them back and forth can add to traditional transfer costs.

Because your data volumes are growing and will continue to do so, look at how much you could save using an innovative data protection architecture with better compression, a far smaller storage footprint, and faster blob file access. New storage architecture can also provide continuous data security, much faster file sharing, efficient file locking, disaster recovery, continuous data protection, and ransomware prevention.

The Panzura Way

Panzura has partnered with major cloud providers to serve as the immutable object store for the Panzura global CloudFS unstructured data file system. Panzura’s unique architecture reduces infrastructure cost for many companies by eliminating redundant data, compressing files, and separating file data from file metadata.

Unstructured data files are saved once, then only file changes are saved, drastically reducing your storage footprint. Caching metadata onto each one of your Panzura nodes builds in redundancy and data resiliency without excessively bulking up your storage space. The architecture also offers faster file sharing access for specific file types.

Mirroring snapshots of the metadata taken at 60-second intervals (the maximum recovery point objective or RTO) for each Panzura node means that in case of a ransomware attack, the most data you could lose is what was written in the prior 60 seconds before the attack. Pansura’s disaster recovery features help you recover and restore data to all nodes.

CloudFS works with on-premises and multi-cloud resources. You don’t necessarily have to move anything to take advantage of a smaller cloud storage footprint and secure, immutable, resilient data protection, and fast unstructured data access.