Unified storage usually refers to a storage system that can serve more than one protocol. In the past when SAN (storage area network) was still widely used, the term referred to storage systems that did both: block and file.
Today, data in enterprises has shifted to file and object storage. Unified storage now refers to storage systems that make data accessible via multiple protocols. However, there are significant differences between each storage vendor's definition of what unified storage is. So what are the most important aspects of unified storage?
There is a range of protocols to access storage as a file system or as an object store. Many scale-out storage systems offer a native protocol for high performance access in addition to the standard protocols, which include NFS Version 3 and 4, SMB Version 2 and 3, native protocols for parallel IO, object storage (S3), Hadoop (HDFS), MPI-IO (in high performance computing).
Systems with a single unified namespace allow you to access the same data via all the protocols, including object storage. This feature allows you to easily share data between users and applications using different protocols, which significantly reduces the number of copies of data.
When talking about sharing data, access control becomes an important issue. If the access control is not unified then you have to configure permissions or access control lists for each interface, which is tedious and a potential security risk. Ideally, a unified storage system automatically translates the access control between interfaces so that the same access control is enforced regardless of how a file (or object) is accessed.
Quobyte's distributed file system allows you to consolidate all of your data onto a single platform allowing users to access the same file from any interface, thus providing you with the grand unified storage you need.