Since our inception in 2005, SoftLayer’s goal has been to provide an array of on-demand data center and hosting services that combine exceptional access, control, scalability and security with unparalleled network robustness and ease of use … That’s why we’re so excited to unveil SoftLayer Object Storage to our customers.
Based on OpenStack Object Storage (codenamed Swift) — open-source software that allows the creation of redundant, scalable object storage on clusters of standardized servers — SoftLayer Object Storage provides customers with new opportunities to leverage cost-effective cloud-based storage and to simultaneously realize significant capex-related cost savings.
OpenStack has been phenomenally successful thanks to a global software community comprised of developers and other technologists that has built and tweaked a standards-based, massively scalable open-source platform for public and private cloud computing. The simple goal of the OpenStack project is to deliver code that enables any organization to create and offer feature-rich cloud computing services from industry-standard hardware. The overarching OpenStack technology consists of several interrelated project components: One for compute, one for an image service, one for object storage, and a few more projects in development.
SoftLayer Object Storage
Like the OpenStack Swift system on which it is based, SoftLayer Object Storage is not a file system or real-time data-storage system, rather it’s a long-term storage system for a more permanent type of static data that can be retrieved, leveraged and updated when necessary. Typical applications for this type of storage can involve virtual machine images, photo storage, email storage and backup archiving.
One of the primary benefits of Object Storage is the role that it can play in automating and streamlining data storage in cloud computing environments. SoftLayer Object Storage offers rich metadata features and search capability that can be leveraged to automate the way unstructured data gets accessed. In this way, SoftLayer Object Storage will provide organizations with new capabilities for improving overall data management and storage efficiency.
File Storage v. Object Storage
To better understand the difference between file storage and object storage, let’s look at how file storage and object storage differ when it comes to metadata and search for a simple photo image. When a digital camera or camera-enabled phone snaps a photo, it embeds a series of metadata values in the image. If you save the image in a standard image file format, you can search for it by standard file properties like name, date and size. If you save the same image with additional metadata as an object, you can set object metadata values for the image (after reading them from the image file). This detail provides granular search capability based on the metadata keys and values, in addition to the standard object properties. Here is a sample comparison of an image’s metadata value in both systems:
|File Metadata||Object Metadata|
|Exposure Time:1/659 sec.|
Using the rich metadata and search capability enabled by object storage, you would be able to search for all images with a dimension of 2240×1680 or a resolution of 72×72 in a quick/automated fashion. The object storage system “understands” more about what is being stored because it is able to differentiate files based on characteristics that you define.
What Makes SoftLayer Object Storage Different?
SoftLayer Object Storage features several unique features and ways for SoftLayer customers to upload, access and manage data:
- Search — Quickly access information through user-defined metadata key-value pairs, file name or unique identifier
- CDN — Serve your content globally over our high-performance content delivery network
- Private Network — Free, secure private network traffic between all data centers and storage cluster nodes
- API — Access to a full-feature OpenStack-compatible API with additional support for CDN and search integration
- Portal — Web application integrated into the SoftLayer portal
- Mobile — iPhone and Android mobile apps, with Windows Phone app coming soon
- Language Bindings — Feature-complete bindings for Java, PHP, Python and Ruby*
*Language bindings, documentation, and guides are available on SLDN.
We think SoftLayer Object Storage will be attractive to a broad range of current and prospective customers, from web-centric businesses dependent on file sharing and content distribution to legal/medical/financial-services companies which possess large volumes of data that must be stored securely while remaining readily accessible.
SoftLayer Object Storage significantly extends our cloud-services portfolio while substantially enriching the storage capabilities that we bring to our customers. What are you waiting for? Go order yourself some object storage @ $0.12/GB!