Vmware and Openstack compared

In addition to learning vSphere and vCloud, I decided to compare it with its open-source competitor OpenStack, and I found this comparison on slideshare.net done by Mirantis

Now frankly I’m not interested in religious wars over this (I’m old enough to remember Novell v Microsoft, VHS v Betamax, Unix v Windows NT etc) but I do want to know whether OpenStack has comparable functionality to Vmware and whether Openstack solves problems that Vmware does not.

And the answer is…not really. Openstack has a long way to go to produce the functionality of Vsphere/ESXi and there are some large pieces missing or seriously behind.

I think Openstack has a good future ahead of it BUT it needs more consistent investment in making the install simple and the execution (ie the admin tools, the automation) much better.

But I was amused by the marketing hype to excuse the large functionality gaps. Apparently the differences can be explained as philosophical rather than functional.

While there are clear slices of functionality across OpenStack projects and VMware products that compete in some ways, the general approach and philosophy of the two ecosystems are vastly different.

Seeing the differences in philosophy is more relevant than a side-by-side feature comparison. That said, understanding how to compare the technologies to one another helps clarify how they differ.

VMware was propelled forward by the adoption of virtualization in the enterprise. As virtualization continued to become increasingly commoditized, VMware gradually pushed up the stack; new value added features were layered around the hypervisor in pursuit of maintaining the market momentum, initiated by the “virtualization disruption.”

I think VMware made their product better and easier to manage and added new features to make the resultant cloud more adaptable and resilient. I think this trumps philosophy every time with the people who are paying for this – the customers.

Ultimately, VMware today is not about cloud, it is about datacenter automation. It is not about infrastructure as a service, it is about virtualization offerings focused at very specific enterprise pain points.

Yes, but those pain points are what is costing the customers actual money. And I have a real hard time working out what the difference is between “cloud” and “datacenter automation”. The “cloud”  is what is presented to the customers, datacenter automation is how this presentation is achieved at lowered cost.

Infrastructure clouds in general and OpenStack in particular are not a byproduct of layering functionality around the hypervisor; neither were they originally targeted at the CIO or IT Manager pain points and, therefore, aren’t held back by having to cater to traditional enterprise workloads. OpenStack view of the world involves starting from scratch. It is the philosophy where one says “let us forget about all those existing enterprise applications and automate the infrastructure in a way that carries no legacy dependencies.”

IaaS involves a holistic approach to automating the entire infrastructure layer in a uniform way. It is not just about functionality layered around the hypervisor.

Apparently holistic is good, dealing with real pain not-so-good. Or something.

It’s a difference without meaning to me.

I think VMware should pay close attention (as I think they are) to Openstack, and remember that people will put up with a lot of pain if the product is free. But most of the costs of the datacenter are not the cloud software, but hardware, datacenter power and airconditioning, the training and expertise of the staff who run the datacenter.

Openstack have a great target to aim for, but they’ve got to organize the anarchy a lot better because the relief of pain is what really sells – not philosophical superiority.


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