The two most popular storage system technologies are block level storage and file level storage. Block level storage is usually used in Storage Area Network (SAN) storage. File level storage is usually used in Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems. Database storage is a common application for block storage technologies. With block level storage, each block can be controlled as an individual hard drive, with raw volumes of storage being created. Each block can be individually formatted with the required file system, and these blocks are controlled by server-based operating systems. Block level storage can also be used to store files, and as storage for various applications like Virtual machine file systems, databases, among others.
Block Storage Vendors
Many storage vendors now provide block storage. The largest storage vendors globally are Hitachi Vantara, IBM, Dell EMC, HPE, and NetApp. Additional vendors include DataDirect Networks, Huawei, Infinidat, Kaminario, Nutanix, Oracle, Pure Storage, Tintri and Western Digital. The largest vendors all offer unified storage that runs block and file on the same arrays, as well as numerous block storage platforms.
Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is block storage for Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute. EBS is scalable and is designed for workloads such as big data analytics, data warehousing, and NoSQL databases.
N’cloud.swiss offers comprehensive block storage and object storage functionality; designed to be extremely scalable, agile and flexible, while fully compatible with the requirements of cloud computing. The storage is native to the hypervisor, to reduce latency and overhead. They are a Swiss and European alternative to the major cloud providers.
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Why Block Storage is Becoming More Popular
If a company is looking to move to the cloud, they will find block storage to be a suitable tool for cloud computing. With large vendors like Dell EMC and Amazon using block storage products, it is going to become a supported technology for the foreseeable future. While file or object storage may be better suited to some situations, block storage will likely be the most appropriate choice in several situations. While block storage devices can sometimes be more complex & expensive than file storage, they can also provide better performance. Block level storage data transportation, if done correctly, can be both reliable and efficient.
The primary disadvantage of using SAN environments, is the associated cost & complexity involved with building and maintaining these systems. SAN environments will remain a viable option as long as organizations are willing to take on those obstacles. With virtual/converged SAN options available on the market today with SAN arrays and block storage, they are likely to continually grow and meet the needs of the customer. The block storage industry is expected to get stronger in the upcoming months, and years, and we are excited to see how this industry as a whole will progress forward 5 years from now.