Chapter 2. Meet Swift

Joe Arnold

In this chapter you will meet Swift, learning about some of its key features and benefits. This conceptual overview will prepare you for later chapters that go into much greater detail, including Chapter 9, where we cover installing a Swift cluster from source. You will also meet SwiftStack the company, which provides software and support to install and operate Swift. You won’t see much of SwiftStack again until Chapter 10 when we cover installing SwiftStack software.

Swift is a multi-tenant, highly scalable, and durable object storage system designed to store large amounts of unstructured data at low cost. Swift is used by businesses of all sizes, service providers, and research organizations worldwide. It is typically used to store unstructured data such as documents, web content, backups, images, and virtual machine snapshots. Originally developed as the engine behind RackSpace Cloud Files in 2010, it was open-sourced as part of the OpenStack project. With hundreds of companies and thousands of developers now participating in the OpenStack project, the usage of Swift is increasing rapidly.

Swift is not a traditional filesystem or a raw block device. Instead, it lets you store, retrieve, and delete objects along with their associated metadata in containers (“buckets” in Amazon S3 terminology) via a RESTful HTTP API. Developers can either write directly to the Swift API or use one of the many client libraries that exist for popular programming languages, ...

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