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A storage architecture that manages data as objects as opposed to file storage, which uses a hierarchal directory structure. An object contains data, meta-data, and a unique global identifier. Object storage is preferred for cloud applications because of its inherent ability to scale massively, accessibility via common API’s, and ability to use a namespace, which can span multiples instances of physical hardware.

Object storage is different from file storage in that object storage does not have a directory tree with folders and subfolders. An object contains data, metadata well as a globally unique identifying number. With object storage there are no directories or mount points.  An index is used to store the identifying number for easy recall. Applications and end users don't need to know the location of the file; they simply provide the unique ID and the system retrieves the data. In addition, an object storage system features a single, flat global namespace, regardless of the number of nodes or geographic locations. This results in location-independence without requiring a file system to govern data placement. Multiple nodes and sites appear as one, logical storage system. Replication and geo-distribution of data is driven by policies object by object rather than dedicated replication and backup infrastructure.