December 19, 2023

Preparing for the Unstructured Data Surge

Understanding Unstructured Data


The sheer volume of unstructured data is on an unprecedented trajectory. Every interaction, swipe, keystroke, and click across billions of digital devices worldwide generates vast amounts of data. In fact, the total data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally is projected to exceed 149 zettabytes annually by 2024. While unstructured data holds immense value, it also introduces challenges and complexities, particularly in managing the hardware that stores it. Traditional storage methods designed for organized data won’t cut it when it comes to modern unstructured data. Without proper “human housekeeping,” including creating a taxonomy for diverse data types and formats, the sheer scale of unstructured data becomes a bottleneck.


The Nature of Unstructured Data


Unlike structured data, which is neatly organized in tables, unstructured data takes the form of files and objects. It encompasses diverse data sources, including IoT data, device telemetry, textual documents, visual content, audio, rich data, and social media analytics. While unstructured data can give us valuable insights, dealing with it can be tricky. Figuring out what’s important, distinguishing quality from quantity, and finding connections between different pieces of unstructured data are common challenges. Storing huge amounts of data without a plan means you end up with a lot of useless information that requires identification and decision-making.


Two prevalent storage approaches for unstructured data are file storage (organized in folders and subfolders) and object storage (where data is divided into discrete units with no hierarchy).


  • File Storage:
    Here, data is stored in files, organized within folders and subfolders. When computers need the data, they follow specific paths to find the files. It’s quick for reading and getting data, but there’s a catch. If you want more storage, you have to add more systems. Just increasing capacity on its own won’t cut it.


  • Object Storage:
    With object storage, data is broken into small pieces and spread across the hardware. The key difference is that there’s no hierarchy (like in file storage) or connections (like in block storage). Each piece of data acts on its own. This setup uses simple APIs and is easy to scale. However, once data pieces are written, you can’t change them.


In short, each approach has its advantages and drawbacks, influencing the efficiency of data retrieval, scalability, and modification capabilities.


Disk-based storage for unstructured data has been the default choice, thanks to its affordability and a general lack of meaningful alternatives. The downside to disk-based storage is that, as your unstructured data grows, it puts a strain on your data center. Here’s why:

  • Footprint: Disk-based storage needs ten times the space in your data center compared to flash storage.
  • Energy Use: It’s not great for energy efficiency either, using ten times more energy than flash storage.
  • Costs: Despite it’s reputation as affordable, disk-based storage can get expensive – not just because of the increasing energy bills to power it, but also in terms of resources—think e-waste, hiring full-time employees to manage it, adding extra racks, and more.


But here’s the good news: You can finally handle and store unstructured data, no matter how big the workload is. With Pure Storage®’s Unified Fast File and Object (UFFO) storage, consolidating and storing unstructured data becomes achievable! FlashBlade//S™ combines the speed of flash with agile scalability, making it ideal for critical workloads requiring cutting-edge speed and performance. FlashBlade//E™, on the other hand, is tailored for large unstructured data repositories and everyday workloads. As a flash alternative to disk, it offers better total cost of ownership (TCO) and energy performance.


Getting ready for the surge in unstructured data means turning to modern solutions. Pure Storage®’s UFFO storage doesn’t just promise speed, scalability, and efficiency—it delivers. The powerful combination of UFFO advantages and TeraSky’s implementation expertise as a leading Pure Partner ensures that your organization is not just prepared but fully equipped to harness the transformative potential of unstructured data. Together, TeraSky and Pure Storage® pave your way to become future-ready.

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Pure Storage

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