Object Storage Service (OSS): Alibaba Cloud

Traditional storage systems such as on premises deployments of Network attached storage (NAS) are useful in storing static files, videos and images but these systems are prone to many types of failures such as hardware faults, scalability issues, high operating and management costs, and availability of limited disk space. Using cloud-based storage solutions help to overcome these challenges and data storage is treated into distinct units called objects. 

In this article we will learn more about Alibaba Object Storage, its features, advantages and use cases etc.   

What is Object Storage?

Alibaba Cloud Object Storage Service allows to store, backup and archive any amount of data over cloud. It is a cost effective, scalable , highly reliable and secure cloud storage option. It commits 99.999999999999% durability using REST APIs and 99.995% availability or continuity of services.

Alibaba cloud supports three types of storage classes namely –

  • Standard,
  • Infrequent Access (IA) and
  • Archive

These storage classes cover different data storage requirements and use cases from hot data to cold data. OSS standard storage offers high reliability, high availability, and high performance which supports frequent data access such as users accessing or working on files, data etc. 

Services Supported by Object Storage

  • Image processing service allows to perform various operations on images such as format conversion, resize, crop, rotate, add watermark etc. 
  • ApsaraVideo media processing converts audio and video stored in OSS into suitable format to play on systems, TVs and other mobile devices.

OSS IA is meant for storing long lived but less frequently accessed data (average one or twice per month) as data access is less frequent as compared to Standard OSS the pricing is also lower. 

OSS Archive Storage is the lowest priced among the three options; it is ideal for long term storage of data which is infrequently accessed and required to be retained due to regulatory compliance and other legal obligations. 

In the upcoming section, we will look more in detail about these three storage classes to understand how they work.

Standard Object Storage –

It provides high throughput and low latency services and it is ideal for storing images which are used on social networking websites and sharing, storing data for audio and video applications, live streaming, large websites and big data analytics. 

Data Redundancy Mechanism Used

Below data redundancy mechanism are used in Standard OSS:

Locally redundant storage (LRS) – uses the data redundancy storage mechanism to store each object data on multiple devices in the same region to ensure data durability and availability in the event of hardware failure.

Zone redundant storage (ZRS) – uses a multi-zone mechanism to distribute user data across three zones in the same region. So, if one zone is unavailable data can still be accessed via another zone within the region.

Infrequent Access (IA) Storage –

IA is suitable to store less frequently access data, such as, backup of mobile applications, smart device data, enterprise data etc. It supports real time data access and they have minimum storage duration due to which objects which are stored in less than 30 days a fee would be applicable and there are charges also for data retrieval.

Data Redundancy Mechanism Used

Both locally redundant and Zone redundant storage mechanisms are being used in Infrequent access storage class also. It supports HTTPS based transmission, supports IMG 

Archival Storage Class –

It is the lowest priced and ideal for long term storage requirements as mentioned above. The data might take up one minute to restore if required to be accessed. Suitable for archival of medical images, audit logs, scientific material, video footage etc.

They also have a minimum storage period and a fee will be charged for storing less than 60 days. It also supports HTTPS based authentication and IMG but require data restoration first.

Commonly Used Terms in Object Storage

  • Bucket – is a container to store objects in OSS each object is contained in a bucket. Various properties for a bucket can be configured such as region, ACL and storage class . Multiple buckets can be created for different storage classes to address requirements
  • Object – is also called files which are basic entities stored in OSS. An object is composed of metadata, data and key. Key is a unique identification object name in a bucket. Metadata is attributes of the object 
  • Region – indicate physical location of OSS data centre. Choose the region where your buckets are created based on cost and location 
  • Endpoint – is the domain name used to access OSS. OSS uses RESTful APIs and different regions use separate endpoints 
  • AccessKey – is composed of an AccessKeyId and AccessKeySecret.  When they work in pairs, access identification is performed using them. It uses a symmetric key encryption technique. The AccessKeySecret must be kept confidential. 

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