OpenStack Swift

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Working with OpenStack storage: Tips on Cinder, Swift and the cloud
Contributor(s): Carol Sliwa

OpenStack Swift, also known as OpenStack Object Storage, is an open source object storage system that is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license and runs on standard server hardware. OpenStack Swift is best suited to backup and archive unstructured data, such as documents, images, audio and video files, email and virtual machine images.

Objects and files are written to multiple drives, and the Swift software ensures the data is replicated across a server cluster. By default, Swift places three copies of every object in as unique-as-possible locations -- first by region, then by zone, server and drive. If a server or hard drive fails, OpenStack Object Storage replicates its content from active nodes to new locations in the cluster

The system, which is accessed through a REST HTTP application programming interface (API), can scale horizontally to store petabytes of data through the addition of nodes, which typically equate to servers. OpenStack Swift software is based on Cloud Files technology developed by Rackspace Hosting Inc. Rackspace and NASA initiated the project and co-founded the community that develops and maintains OpenStack software, which includes compute, storage and networking components for building cloud computing services.

This was last updated in July 2013

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