OpenStack vs VMware: A Comprehensive Comparison

openstack vs vmware

When it comes to choosing a cloud infrastructure platform, two names often rise to the surface: OpenStack and VMware. Both are leading solutions that offer a variety of features for virtualization and managing cloud environments. However, the question remains: which one is right for you? In this in-depth review, we’ll compare OpenStack vs VMware across several key aspects and answer the top 15 questions that users commonly ask about these platforms.

Overview of OpenStack and VMware

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s provide a brief overview of the two platforms. OpenStack is an open-source cloud platform that enables users to develop private or public clouds. It’s built to be flexible, scalable, and feature-rich, making it a favorite among many enterprises.

On the other hand, VMware is a proprietary virtualization platform. It offers VMware vSphere for server virtualization and VMware vCloud Suite for cloud infrastructure. Known for its robustness and reliability, VMware is a stalwart in many corporate data centers.

Feature Comparison

Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of OpenStack and VMware:

CostMostly free, cost associated with support and additional servicesHigh upfront cost, with recurring license and support fees
ScalabilityExcellent, designed to scale outExcellent, both scale-up and scale-out
Ease of UseModerate, steep learning curveHigh, with a user-friendly interface
Support and CommunityStrong community support, commercial support variesExcellent commercial support
FlexibilityHigh, due to open-source natureModerate, some limitations due to proprietary nature
SecurityGood, with ongoing improvementsExcellent, with mature security features
IntegrationExtensive, thanks to API-centric designExtensive, especially within VMware product ecosystem
Disaster RecoveryGood, varies depending on tools usedExcellent, with mature, built-in solutions

Now, let’s dive deeper into each platform.

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OpenStack vs VMware: Key Differences

1. Main Differences

The primary difference between OpenStack and VMware lies in their core philosophy. OpenStack is an open-source project, meaning its source code is freely available and can be modified to suit specific needs. VMware, however, is a proprietary solution, offering a more polished product but with less room for customization.

In terms of architecture, OpenStack follows a modular design, where each component (or service) handles a distinct portion of cloud functionality. VMware, on the other hand, offers a more tightly integrated solution.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Cost is a significant factor when choosing between OpenStack and VMware. OpenStack itself is free, but the costs can come from infrastructure, deployment, and support services. VMware requires a license fee, which can be high, especially for large deployments. However, it often comes with comprehensive support, reducing the need for in-house expertise.

3. Performance

Performance comparisons between OpenStack and VMware can be challenging due to the variability in hardware and configurations used. Generally, both platforms provide robust performance sufficient for most enterprise workloads. VMware has an edge in terms of out-of-the-box performance due to its long-standing experience in virtualization.

4. Scalability

Both OpenStack and VMware handle scalability well. OpenStack is designed to scale horizontally across many servers, making it suitable for large, distributed environments. VMware can also scale up (adding resources to a single server) or out (adding more servers), offering flexibility depending on the workload needs.

5. Ease of Use and Management

VMware is often cited as easier to manage due to its user-friendly

interface and seamless integration between its products. OpenStack, while powerful, has a steeper learning curve. However, OpenStack’s dashboard, Horizon, provides a web-based user interface for managing resources, and various vendors offer distributions of OpenStack that include additional management and deployment tools.

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6. Support and Community

OpenStack has a strong community backing it, with contributions from organizations worldwide. Commercial support can be obtained from vendors that offer OpenStack distributions. VMware, being a commercial product, offers excellent support as part of their licensing agreements. Their vast user base and ecosystem also provide a wealth of knowledge and resources.

7. Flexibility

OpenStack’s open-source nature grants it high flexibility. Users can modify the source code to fit their needs and choose from a variety of components for different cloud functions. VMware, while not as customizable due to its proprietary nature, offers comprehensive solutions that can fit most enterprise needs.

8. Key Features

OpenStack provides a range of services for compute, storage, networking, and more. Key features include multi-tenancy, a robust API for integration, and support for a variety of storage backends.

VMware’s key offerings include vSphere for server virtualization, NSX for network virtualization, and vSAN for software-defined storage. They also offer solutions for cloud management, automation, and business continuity.

9. Security

VMware has a mature set of security features, including VM Encryption, Secure Boot, and more. OpenStack’s security is robust and improving with each release, and the OpenStack Security Group actively works on identifying and fixing vulnerabilities.

10. Integration

OpenStack’s API-centric design allows it to integrate with a variety of third-party tools and systems. VMware also offers extensive integration options, especially strong within its product ecosystem.

11. Use Cases

OpenStack is often favored by organizations that value flexibility, open standards, and have the technical expertise to leverage them. It’s also suitable for large-scale, distributed deployments.

VMware is commonly used by businesses seeking a complete, integrated virtualization and cloud solution with comprehensive support. It’s a go-to choice for many running enterprise-grade, critical applications.

12. Disaster Recovery

VMware has mature disaster recovery solutions like Site Recovery Manager (SRM). OpenStack’s disaster recovery solutions can vary depending on the backup and replication tools used.

13. Deployment and Configuration

Deploying OpenStack can be complex given its modular architecture. However, numerous deployment tools and guides are available, plus vendor distributions that ease this process.

VMware’s setup is relatively straightforward, with a guided installation and configuration process. Its suite of products is designed to work seamlessly together, reducing deployment complexity.

14. Best Suited For

OpenStack is best suited for organizations that value customization and are willing to invest in the necessary expertise and resources to harness its full potential.

VMware is ideally suited for organizations that prefer an all-in-one, enterprise-grade solution, and those willing to pay for a polished product with comprehensive support.

In conclusion, the choice between OpenStack and VMware largely depends on your organization’s specific needs, budget, and technical capability. Both platforms offer robust features for managing cloud environments, but their differences in cost, flexibility, support, and ease of use could be the deciding factor for your choice.

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6 thoughts on “OpenStack vs VMware: A Comprehensive Comparison”

  1. Hi

    I’m not normally one to comment, but I have an interest in both vmware and openstack.

    This article is so vague and blaze, that I have no real idea what you are trying to say. You need a few “actual” examples when you say stuff. It’s all so high level that I doubt anyone will really understand your points. I certainly don’t.

    Perhaps this is just aimed at some highly intellectual subset, of system architects, of people interested in OpenStack and VMware, who are into IT and who like reading articles. Which I calculate as about 8 people worldwide. enjoy

    Sorry –


  2. Hi, Id certainly like to vouch for what JK has said ablove. To me personally this article dint provide any advantages or for that matter disadvantages of using one over the other. Very vague.

  3. (Disclaimer: I work for VMware’s networking and security group, which helped to kickstart the OpenStack Neutron project.)

    Hi, this type of vague and unclear comparison between VMware vSphere (a hypervisor) and OpenStack (a cloud management platform) doesn’t help anyone. You can’t make direct comparisons between vSphere and OpenStack. Why? OpenStack *isn’t* a hypervisor. OpenStack *needs* a hypervisor. Sometimes that hypervisor is KVM, but sometimes that hypervisor is…gasp…vSphere! Yes, VMware vSphere is fully supported running under OpenStack. Is vSphere the right choice for all workloads deployed on OpenStack? That would be a far more productive discussion to have than presenting an incorrect and inaccurate comparison between two products from two different product categories, IMHO.

  4. Hey guys,

    Thanks for your feedback on this article. I agree with you completely that the content of this article is vague and not very helpful. This article (and a couple other OpenStack ones) were actually guest posts that were contributed by someone else. Would any of you be interested in revising this article to make it better?

  5. Hi,
    Could you explain the relationship between OpenStack and open virtualization format (OVF)?
    VMware Geek

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