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You are correct in that both types of storage are just made up of HDDs but the its how they present this storage. It is also how they are designed to retrieve this.
Swift is an object store, each piece of data is stored as an object, each object can be directly accessed via the API. Cinder is a block storage device, that data that cinder holds is part of a block device, the block device itself is connected to a client before it can be accessed.

Check out if you SAN is on the Cinder Matrix as if it is you can directly access the san via cinder.

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In the diagram above ScaleIO is taking the place of a SAN for Cinder to access, but as you can see the Swift storage nodes are on their own nodes, due to the resource requirements needed for them.

If you want to use your SAN resources for "swift" you would have to make a LUN on a server, then install the swift storage services on that server using the LUN to provide the storage.