The waning light of OpenStack Swift

I was at the 9th Openstack Malaysia anniversary this morning, celebrating the inception of the OpenInfra brand. The OpenInfra branding, announced almost a year ago, represented a change of the maturing phase of the OpenStack project but many have been questioning its growing irrelevance. The foundational infrastructure components – Compute (Nova), Image (Glance), Object Storage (Swift) – are being shelved further into the back closet as the landscape evolved in recent years.

The writing is on the wall

Through the storage lens, I already griped about the conundrum of OpenStack storage in Malaysia in last year’s 8th anniversary. And at the thick of this conundrum is OpenStack Swift. The granddaddy of OpenStack storage has not gotten much attention from technology vendors and service providers alike. For one, storage vendors have their own object storage offering, and has little incentive to place OpenStack Swift into their technology development.

At the end of the event this morning, I asked the 40+ attendees if they were or have worked with OpenStack Swift. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.

Thus it has become pretty clear that while Swift will continue to have features release and upgrades as OpenStack versions progress, Swift has become secondary storage platform of choice.

Ceph’s Prominence

The second, and more significant reason is the rise and rise of Ceph. Ceph supports several network storage integration, which includes

  • CephFS – a POSIX interface for traditional file system
  • RADOS Block Device
  • CephFS Object Gateway for NAS including NFSv3/v4, Ganesha NFS and SMB3
  • Object Storage both S3 and Swift compatible

Ceph also includes a rich set of storage features including snapshots, thin provisioning and more.

It is not surprising that the 3 sponsors of the event – RedHat Malaysia, SuSE Malaysia and a local cloud service provider, Silver Lining Systems – are all building their platforms with Ceph. Redhat OpenShift version 4.x has placed their storage foundation with Ceph. SuSE Cloud 9 is based on Ceph. Silver Lining Systems IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) offering is built with Ceph.

Under the rubble

As more and more OpenStack projects are taking precedence, OpenStack Swift shining light is dimming and waning. I do not see a great significance of it making its presence strongly felt. It has been buried under the rubble for some time now, and it appears that more prominent projects are piling onto this growing heap of rubble.

I go back to my question last year at OpenStack 8th birthday. What were the 4 main OpenStack projects related to storage? Cinder, Manila, Glance and … Ceph. Oh, my poor OpenStack Swift.



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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

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