OpenStack Swift: An Ideal Bit-Level Object Storage System for Digital Preservation


A bit-level object storage system is a foundational building block of long-term digital preservation (LTDP). To achieve the purposes of LTDP, the system must be able to: preserve the authenticity and integrity of the original digital objects; scale up with dramatically increasing demands for preservation storage; mitigate the impact of hardware obsolescence and software ephemerality; replicate digital objects among distributed data centers at different geographical locations; and to constantly audit and automatically recover from compromised states. A realistic and daunting challenge to satisfy these requirements is not only to overcome technological difficulties but also to maintain economic sustainability by implementing and continuously operating such systems in a cost-effective way. In this paper, we present OpenStack Swift, an open-source, mature and widely accepted cloud platform, as a practical and proven solution with a case study at the University of Alberta Library. We emphasize the implementation, application, cost analysis and maintenance of the system, with the purpose of contributing to the community with an exceedingly robust, highly scalable, self-healing and comparatively cost-effective bit-level object storage system for long-term digital preservation. 

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