Object Storage and Why it’s Beneficial for a Microsoft 0365 Data Backup


Dave Kluger, Storcom CTO

There are many reasons to consider object storage for a Microsoft O365 data backup. With today’s strict regulatory requirements, retaining email and other communication data in a centralized, manageable repository remains the most secure strategy.  A company’s electronic communication data, which includes email and social media content, can be used as evidence in everyday workplace disputes and legal proceedings.  This includes investigations, Freedom of Information Act requests, lawsuits, IRS audits, and many others.

There are many benefits to Microsoft O365 Exchange Online and though Microsoft provides the capabilities to “archive data”, using O365 it is costly and may not meet all of the regulatory requirements of your business.  This is where Storcom, a cloud solutions provider, leverages Veeam and object storage to meet compliance needs and reduce cost.

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, data is copied to a Veeam repository which is outside of Microsoft and their data centers. Once outside Microsoft’s data centers, Veeam’s scale-out repository protects the data with object lock to ensure that that data can’t be altered. This is what is referred to as an “immutable copy.”

Immutable object storage from Storcom is designed to help clients preserve records and maintain data integrity in a Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM), non-erasable, and non-rewritable manner. Also, Storcom protects against deletion or modification until the end of retention periods and the removal of any legal holds.


object storage vs block storage vs file storage image

What is Object Storage?

“Object storage,” also known as “object-based storage,” is different from other IT data storage architectures since you can manage objects rather than data blocks or file systems. An “object” includes metadata, unique identifiers, and the data itself. Object storage data can be easily accessed through APIs or an http/https address in order to safeguard your data. Data can also be replicated to multiple different Storcom data centers when necessary. 

It is also noteworthy that object storage systems can retain massive amounts of unstructured data since the majority of data in the world is considered to be unstructured. There are multiple levels where you can implement object storage: device level, system level, or interface level. 

On a general level, an object storage use case commonly supports application developers, who must wrangle user-created media through object storage. Since object storage can handle unlimited media files and scale to multiple petabytes and beyond without degrading performance developers, IT admins find it useful for storing:

  1. Unstructured data like photos, music, videos, etc.
  2. Online collaboration like Dropbox and Microsoft Office 365
  3. Backup, log, and database files 
  4. Large data sets 
  5. Archival files

It is also important to note that object storage has traditionally been used as an archive tier; however, this is changing. There are vendors who are now building object storage solutions that leverage high-performance solid state disks. Vendors are able to create traditional file systems like VMFS on top of these solutions. These are very new to the market, but there are some very interesting capabilities that use object storage for a traditional file system may enable (especially when it comes to data durability). 


Examples of Cloud-Based Object Storage Providers

Object storage now also exists in the cloud and it can also be built on-premise.  Some common cloud-based object storage providers are:

  1. Amazon S3
  2. Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
  3. Google Cloud Storage
  4. Storcom Private Cloud


Example of On-Premise Object Storage Providers

A few of the solutions that we work with that  use different types of erasure coding to provide data durability, but all of these support S3 protocol. Therefore, any application that can write to an “S3” storage bucket can use these as an option. Typically, we find that these on-premise object storage have an ROI that starts to make more sense than a cloud provider when you get into the 5 petabyte range.

  1. Cloudian
  2. MinIO
  3. Quantum Corporation
  4. Scality
  5. Zadara


block storage image  file storage image     object storage image

Block vs. File vs. Object Storage

“Block storage” takes a file apart into individual blocks of data and then stores these blocks as separate chunks of data. Each piece of data has a different address or location. This means you don’t need a file structure. However, at the same time, that means you need to scan to file that block of data. Different storage vendors and file systems use different block sizes (e.g. VMFS5 uses a 1MB block size allocation).

“File storage” stores data as a single piece of information in a folder to help organize it among other data. This is also called “hierarchical storage,” which imitates the way that traditional paper files are stored. When you need access to data, then your computer system needs to know the path to find it. Also, it is important to understand that file storage still writes data to the physical disk in blocks of data. The file system manages what makes up those blocks. 

“Object storage” takes each piece of data and designates it as an object. Data is kept in separate storehouses vs. files in folders. It is bundled with associated metadata and a unique identifier in order to form a storage pool. Object storage is not designed to be directly accessed by an OS. Instead, the interaction occurs through APIs at the application level via RESTful conventions. This interaction generally occurs at a single endpoint, thus eliminating LUN mapping and network storage topologies from the application design process. Again, the data that makes up an “object” is still written to the physical disk as a block of storage. The object storage “storehouse” manages which blocks make up an object. 


Why Should a Business Choose to Use Object Storage?

Estimates show that 80% of all data generated is unstructured, though that percentage may be low. IDC estimates that we’ll have 5x as much data as we have now by 2025.

Every size business must learn how to store enormous amounts of ever-growing data. Since growth in unstructured data is ever-expanding and its growth can be unpredictable, a business’ storage solution must be able to quickly and easily scale on-demand. With object storage, businesses are better equipped to store their data, as well as being better able to manage it, search through it, and then leverage it for better insights. 

Object storage is not limited by a hierarchical organization compared to its predecessors, file, and block storage. Instead, data is organized in a flat plane. Thus providing cleaner, more readily available access than other types of data storage architectures can deliver. Also, object storage’s flat environment is highly customizable by number, attribute, and more.



SC object storage microsoft 0365 hero blog image

7 Reasons to Use Storcom’s Object Storage 

Humans and machine learning are responsible for generating tremendous amounts of data. And while some is structured, the vast majority is unstructured. Since unstructured data is difficult to manage and store, businesses are turning to object storage solutions to solve its unique challenges. Here are the seven reasons why you should choose Storcom’s object storage for your business’ data storage needs:

data immutability microsoft office 365 backup
Data Immutability:

Immutable object storage from Storcom is designed to help our clients preserve records and maintain data integrity in a Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM), non-erasable, and non-rewritable manner to protect against deletion or modification until the end of retention periods and the removal of any legal holds.

data durability microsoft office 365 backup

Data Durability:

Object Storage provides the highest levels of resiliency. Traditional RAID technologies for data replication are technologies from the 1960s. Object storage was built from the ground up to provide the highest levels of data protection. Object storage delivers quick, reliable disaster recovery for object files. That’s because when an object is created, it automatically copies onto 1+ nodes.  This is done by something called “erasure coding.” Erasure coding is similar to RAID, in theory, but allows for much more complex redundancy algorithms. In the event that disaster strikes, a business can rest assured their data won’t be lost.

cost reduction Microsoft office 365 backup
Reduction in cost: 

Businesses who are generating large volumes of data also need a system that makes the most sense for their budget. Since object storage easily scales out, it’s far more cost-efficient to store data in an environment without volume and search limitations. This also lends itself to an operational expense model.

optimization of resources Microsoft office 365 backup
Optimization of resources:

Object storage does not have a filing hierarchy and metadata is completely customizable. Therefore, there are far fewer limitations than with file or block storage. This is one of the main reasons object storage is becoming the de facto standard for modern cloud-native applications that are built using current technologies.  

Greater data analytics for Microsoft Office 365 backup
Greater data analytics:

Object storage is driven by metadata, and the opportunity for analysis is far greater with this level of classification for every piece of data. This is very useful when using object storage for data analytics. This also means you can run modern databases like Hadoop or Cassandra and leverage object stores for massive data storage and scalability. 

infinite data scalability for Microsoft Office 365 backup
Infinite scalability:

One of the most important advantages to choosing object storage is its ability to endlessly scale. Businesses can scale horizontally and add nodes as needed. Since metadata stays with the objects, the system is “flat.” This allows for virtually unlimited scalability in comparison to traditional storage methods. Keep adding data…forever. There’s no limit! 

faster data retrieval for Microsoft Office 365 backup

Faster data retrieval:

Due to the categorization structure of object storage, and the lack of folder hierarchy, you can retrieve your data much faster. In object storage architecture, the metadata resides in the object itself. That means IT admins don’t need to build databases to merge metadata with the objects. Also, custom metadata can be created, altered, and added over time. Most importantly, custom metadata makes object storage simple to navigate by searching, unlike its block file storage counterpart.

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