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VMware vs OpenStack: Which one is right for your organization? Comparing OpenStack and VMware can be challenging, as each appeals to different types of customers. Although the two technologies overlap in functionality, VMware and OpenStack are two different architectures, and are in two different ecosystems. VMware was born as a virtualization suite for the data center and is now the most widely-used server virtualization platform. Conversely, OpenStack is the leading open source cloud technology, and has quickly become the most important open source community since Linux.

VMware and OpenStack are both viable options for hybrid and private cloud. Either platform can fit into a company’s corporate infrastructure. Ultimately, the decision boils down to business requirements. What type of services are you trying to deliver, and to whom? Once these factors are assessed, the decision is simpler.


Do OpenStack and VMware really compete?

is an open source project that provides an infrastructure platform for software developers to build cloud-aware applications. OpenStack:

  • Is designed for consuming shared resources as a service
  • Gives infrastructure administrators immense design and deployment flexibility
  • Supports multiple hypervisors for provisioning and orchestrating the cloud
  • Must be automated as much as possible to reap the full benefits

Typical use cases for OpenStack include:

  • Running multi-tier workloads or open source development tools
  • Utilizing agile methodologies as an application development method
  • Exposing customer-facing APIs that need to be scaled


VMware, on the other hand:

  • Is about data center automation, not cloud
  • Offers detailed reference architectures and common practices since virtualization has been around for decades
  • Has redundancy and availability built into the infrastructure
  • Lets you add capacity to increase performance output—but it can be time-consuming

Ultimately, it can be argued that OpenStack is most logically positioned against VMware’s vCloud Suite, which integrates internal enterprise IT environments virtualized on VMware, with cloud resources deployed at VMware-managed data centers.


Pros and cons of each platform



  • Feature-rich (vSphere HA, vMotion, DRS, I/O control) with very large ecosystems
  • Widely used, with as many as 80% of enterprises now using VMware products


  • In its native state, only the Systems Administrator has access to the tool
  • The ESXi hypervisor that comes with VMware is free, but licensing fees are required for the APIs
  • Proprietary platform




  • End users can easily provision resources
  • Supports almost all the hypervisors in the world including VMware ESXi, Xen, KVM (default) and
  • Interoperability with many APIs, and support from many OEMs and OS vendors
  • Easily integrated with VMware hypervisor & Hyper-V to utilize existing infrastructure


  • Very complex to set up and troubleshoot
  • Requires significant automation
  • OpenStack and KVM hypervisor are free, but require configuration by skilled administrators


A new alignment: VIO

OpenStack certainly generates a lot of excitement. However, VMware is clearly adapting to marketplace realities with the introduction of Integrated OpenStack (VMware VIO). This is an OpenStack distribution supported by VMware, and designed for companies that want to deploy and manage a private cloud on top of their vSphere infrastructure.

So, the differences between VMware and OpenStack aren’t just about technology; they are in the fundamental approach to tackling infrastructure automation. Depending on your business requirements, either platform could be the right one for your organization.


Need help comparing VMware and OpenStack? We have engineers with deep experience in both platforms. Get in touch with us to talk about your requirements and challenges.


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