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Container aliases

A container alias makes it possible to link to other containers, even to containers in different accounts.

Problem Description

Currently it is more complicated to access containers in other accounts than containers defined in the account returned as your storage URL because you need to use a different storage URL than returned by your auth-endpoint - which is known to not be support by all clients. Even if the storage URL of a shared container which you have access is known and supported by the client of choice - shared containers are not listed when doing a GET request on the users account, thus they are not discoverable by a regular client applications or users.

Alias container could simplify this task. A swift account owner/admin with permissions to create containers could create an alias onto a container which users of the account already have access to (most likely via ACL’s), and requests rooted at or under this alias could be redirected or proxied to a second container on a different account.

This would make it simpler to access these containers with existing clients for different reasons.

  1. A GET request on the account level would list these containers
  2. Requests to an alias container are forwarded to the target container, making it possible to access that container without using a different storage URL in the client.

However, setting the alias still requires the storage URL (see Automatic container alias provisioning for alternative future work).


Setting an alias should be impossible if there are objects in the source container because these would become inaccessible, but still require storage space. There is a possible race condition if a container is created and objects are stored within while at the same time (plus a few milliseconds?) an alias is set.

A reconciler mechanism (similar to the one used in storage policies) might solve this, as well as ensuring that the alias can be only set during container creation. Un-setting alias would be denied, instead the alias container is to be deleted.

Proposed Change

New metadata to set and review, as well as sys-metadata to store - the target container on a container alias.

Most of the required changes can be put into a separate middleware. There is an existing patch:


The main problem identified with that patch was that a split brain could allow a container created on handoffs WITHOUT an alias to shadow a pre-existing alias container, and during upload could cause the user perception of to which location data was written to be confused and potentially un-resolved.

It’s been purposed that reconciliation process to move objects in an alias container to the target container could allow an eventually consistent repair of the split-brain’d container.


Test and verify what happens if requests are not yet authenticated; make sure ACLs are respected and unauthorized requests to containers in other accounts is impossible.

The change should include functional tests which validate cross-account and non-swift owner cross-container alias’s correctly respect target ACL’s - even if in some cases they appear to duplicate the storage-url based cross-account/cross-container ACL tests.

If a background process is permitted to move object stored in a container which is later determined to have been an alias there is likely to be authorization implications if the ACL’s on the target have changed.


Update the documentation and document the behavior.

Work Items

Further discussion of design.


Primary assignee:
cschwede <>

Future Work

Automatic container alias provisioning

Cross-account container sharing might be even more simplified, leading to a better user experience.

Let’s assume there are two users in different accounts:

test:tester and test2:tester2

If test:tester puts an ACL onto an container /AUTH_test/container to allow access for test2:tester2, the middleware could create an alias container /AUTH_test2/test_container linking to /AUTH_test/container. This would make it possible to discover shared containers to other users/accounts. However, there are two challenges:

1. Name conflicts: there might be an existing container /AUTH_test2/test_container 2. A lookup would require to resolve an account name into the account ID

Cross realm container aliases

Might be possible to tie into container sync realms (or something similar) to allow operators the ability to let users proxy requests to other realms.