Block Storage

What is Block Storage?

Block storage is the simplest form of data storage and is typically used in storage area network (SAN) or cloud storage settings. Stored in fixed-sized blocks, files are more easily accessed for quick or frequent edits. While more complex and costly, data stored in such a system is easily accessed without compromising OS performance.

What are blocks?

Chunks of data are called blocks, and each block is created by sectioning data off by specific length. SANs and cloud storage systems give these blocks unique identifiers as markers to aid in the retrieval process. Because of the identifiers on each block of data, the data can live anywhere within the storage pool, but the SAN or cloud storage system typically stores blocks wherever is most efficient.

How is block storage used?

Block storage systems, both on-prem and in the cloud, are used to optimize tasks and workloads that demand low-latency and are network-based. The data blocks are configured to form volumes, and each volume behaves as a hard drive. Virtual machines, filing systems, critical applications, and databases are all typical uses of block storage.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of block storage?

With its efficiency and high-performance, block storage is a suitable option for many enterprise environments. In addition, highly scalable block storage is able to grow as organizations need more storage without compromising performance.

This storage format allows files to be updated and modified efficiently. When a file needs to be changed, the system can simply change the exact block without having to rewrite the entire file. This is not an option with other data storage structures. Block storage also delivers low latency due to the unique identifiers within the block structure.

Traditional block storage systems, requiring both capex investment and professional managers for maintenance of the system, can be expensive. By contrast, modern as-a-service block storage offerings enable enterprises to flexibly leverage the power of block storage without the upfront capital costs or the need for specialist IT personnel.


File storage vs. block storage vs. object storage

File storage

File storage utilizes a graded system and is generally more user-friendly than block storage. The process of retrieving files in a file storage system is as simple as accessing the user interface and searching based on the name of the file, URL, or its location within a folder. With block storage, the SAN needs to piece together the blocks of data to retrieve the file.


Block storage

Block storage offers great flexibility and high performance. This sets the system apart from file storage systems.

Object storage

Object storage is the most scalable and affordable storage option. Object storage systems can also be the most reliable and efficient of the three data storage types. However, in an object storage system, it is impossible to make edits to a file. Files must be completely rewritten if any changes need to be made, whereas file storage allows continuous edits and updates.


Block storage use cases

In order to run most mission-critical applications such as SAP and Oracle, or with workloads that include trading, e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), and marketing automation, an organization must utilize block storage systems within their infrastructure. Mission-critical applications requires the efficiency, high-performance capacity, and low latency that block storage provides.

Some organizations use block storage as a foundation beneath object and file storage to accommodate rapid expansion and varying data storage needs. It provides an underlying storage solution that, when utilized jointly with object and file storage, simplifies data structure and automatically assigns workloads to the necessary system for each given task.

Certain applications call for server-side processing, in which processing requests require user authentication and internal page navigation that can only be accomplished via block storage systems. (For instance, running an application such as Java requires this system.) This allows organizations to increase their internal security.

Hypervisors utilize block storage within virtual machines (VMs) because their structure allows for distribution across several machines. When organizations use a hypervisor and block storage structure in their virtual machines, VMs can achieve higher speeds, lower latency, and greater processing power.

HPE and block storage

HPE offers modern, as-a-service block storage solutions to help you realize the full potential of your data, wherever it lives, with a seamless cloud experience for data and data infrastructure from edge to cloud.

HPE GreenLake for Block Storage is the first block storage as a service to deliver self-service agility and guarantee 100% availability built in for mission-critical apps. The solution delivers an AI-driven, intuitive cloud experience that empowers line of business and app admins with intelligent self-provisioning and non-disruptive scale. Meet any SLA across hybrid cloud with consistently fast performance and ultra-low latency, even at scale. 

HPE Alletra is cloud-native data infrastructure that provides a cloud operating and consumption experience wherever data lives. Powered by the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform and built for every app, from traditional to modern, HPE Alletra delivers architectural flexibility without the complexity of traditional storage management.

The HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform enables organizations to accelerate data-driven modernization from edge to cloud with a cloud operational experience that eliminates complexity and silos. Enterprises can leverage a seamless cloud experience that brings together the agility of cloud operations, consumption-based data services, and the freedom to run any app without compromise. Stop managing infrastructure and start accessing and utilizing it to meet any SLA, as a service and on demand.