Object Storage vs. Block Storage: A Comprehensive Comparison

The main difference between Object Storage and Block Storage is the way data is stored, accessed, and managed. Object storage is typically used for unstructured data, while block storage is typically used for structured data.

How do you differentiate between the types of storage options available in the market? Selecting the right one might seem challenging, so your decision needs to be focused on your workload and budget. Among the different types, the ones we are going to talk about here are the object and block storage options.

Object storage and block storage are both available with their own set of advantages and limitations. Although there is no concrete agreement in selecting only one type of storage here, object storage seems to be more famous than block storage for accessing data anytime while using limited space and expenses. Some of the characteristics that draw clear differences between these two facilities are:

To understand these attributes, let’s get a clear picture of the object and block storage first.

Object storage refers to the particular storage procedure where you get to organize, manage and manipulate data as identifiable, unique, and distinct units, also known as “objects”. It is a different approach than the traditional storage options and has emerged as one of the fastest-growing storage methods among users, as it offers modern and practical ways to store large amounts of unstructured information and data. In layperson’s terms, object storage is the flat structure that can store the files, broken into pieces, to spread them out among hardware seamlessly. However, in the case of object storage, the data is broken into discrete units and kept within a single repository instead of being stored as blocks or files and folders. Some of the top benefits of using object storage are:

  • Application Visibility and Application Control
  • Stateful vs Stateless
  • CapEx and OpEx
  • Intrusion Prevention System
  • Traffic Filtering
  • Reputation and Identity Services
  • Network Speed
  • Policy Control
  • Working Layer
  • Reporting

Typically the object storage would need a simple HTTP API which the clients can use in any language. It is a cost-effective solution which means you only get to pay for what you use. It offers high scalability, making it a decent choice for public cloud storage. If you want to increase the storage capabilities to handle large quantities of static data, then object storage can be the ideal solution for your company.

What is Block Storage?

As the name suggests, block storage is responsible for storing data in the form of blocks. Of course, each data block gets a unique identifier that helps the storage system place them wherever is convenient. So, you get to store data, some in the Windows unit, and some might be in the Linux® environment.

In terms of computing, a block refers to the sequence of bits or bytes that consist of a whole number of records or a block size. So, any structured data is to be blocked, while deblocking refers to the procedure of extracting the data from these blocks. Blocking data will eventually reduce overhead while speeding up the entire process of handling the data stream.

Why is block storage necessary? That is because it helps decouple the data from the customer's environment and spread it across multiple other domains, which can appropriately serve the data. In case one sends a data request, the underlying storage software will reassemble the data blocks by deblocking and presenting them in the previous form to the user.

It is done in the SAN environments and needs to be tied to a functioning server. The retrieval process is quick as the block storage doesn't rely on a single path to data. As a result, it is pretty easy to maintain and offers one of the most efficient ways to store data for prolonged periods.

Some of the top benefits of using object storage are:

  • Block storage utilizes limited metadata and chiefly relies on the assigned unique identifiers for read/write operations. As a result, it lowers the data transfer overhead, helping deliver the ultra-low latency required for high-performance workloads.
  • Not being constrained to any specific network environment helps offer flexible solutions to the users. Individual blocks can be configured for various OS like Linux and Windows. With the continually growing requirements, the developers can easily add more data blocks to the existing ones.
  • Block storage does not affect the overall performance while conducting frequent data writes. So, you no longer have to rewrite the entire file and only identify the required one that needs to be amended. Therefore, it helps seamless frequent modification without causing trouble for the whole file.
  • Developers get a lot of control when data is stored on the block storage. They can optimize performance by grouping data on specific blocks depending on their activity. Also, it helps in improving system performance as the ongoing updates can affect only a selected number of data blocks and not the entire file.

What is the Difference Between Object Storage and Block Storage?

Parameters Object Storage Block Storage
Definition It is a data storage method that manages your unstructured data as objects in a structurally flat data environment It is a method for storing data in blocks, in which each storage volume will function as the individual hard drive, which the storage administrator configures
Performance Performs best for the big content along with the high stream throughput Offers excellent performance with transactional data and database
Analytics Consists of customizable metadata, which is permitted for organization and retrieval later No metadata
Scalability Is scalable till petabytes and more Address the requirements can limit scalability
Geography You can save data in multiple locations and regions without complications Latency seems to increase with the increment in the distance between the application and storage
Data Storage Every data piece is stored as an object in isolated storehouses, which is bundled with a unique identifier and related metadata Not required to be stored in any file structure as every file is separately stored as individual data blocks with distinct addresses
Protocols SOAP & REST over HTTP Fibre Channel, SCSI, SATA
Biggest Strength Scalability, while helping with data outages and data loss along with distributed access Computing situations that need quick, efficient, and data transportation, offering high flexible storage solutions
Transaction Units Objects which are files with customizable metadata Data blocks
Limitations Ideal for changing the transactional data frequently, but doesn’t facilitate sharing protocols and locking mechanism Challenging to extend its functionalities across the data centers

Final Thoughts

If you look closely at the characteristics and benefits of both storage options, object storage seems to be an excellent fit for handling unstructured data, essentially WORM data. On the other hand, block storage is ideal for handling chunks of structured data while saving space and enhancing overall performance.

If you need clarification about selecting a suitable storage space for your company's sensitive data and information, join hands with DC Gears. We have been partnering with the top global brands offering storage solutions at incredible prices. We are in more than 40 countries and provide 24*7 on-site expertise. Visit DC Gears to know more