Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Mauro Carniel, William Schmarzo, Mehdi Daoudi, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog, FinTech Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

OpenNebula vs. OpenStack: User Needs vs. Vendor Driven

How Do You Compare OpenNebula with OpenStack?

This post is a reprint of a post at OpenNebula.org

We've crafted this post to answer a recurring question we've been hearing lately, specially from organizations planning to build their own private cloud:

How do you compare OpenNebula with OpenStack?...

This is indeed a complex question. There is no single answer because open-source projects and technologies present several dimensions. But we are far from afraid to answer it: the short, tl;dr version would be that they represent two different open-source models. While OpenNebula is an open-source effort focused on user needs, OpenStack is a vendor-driven effort.

This is neither a question of one being better than the other, they simply represent different approaches. Let us compare both open source options based on the following criteria: internal organization, governance model, roadmap definition, contributor profile, target user, product, and market competition. Obviously this comparison is biased (no way around that), but we have tried to be as neutral as possible.

A. Different Open-Source Project Models
Both projects release code under the liberal Apache 2.0 license, follow a transparent development process with a public roadmap, and have the same license agreement for new contributions. They present significant differences though, specially in:

  • Internal Organization. While OpenStack comprises many different subprojects (14 at the time of writing this post) aimed at building the different subsystems in a cloud infrastructure, OpenNebula offers a single integrated, comprehensive management platform for all cloud subsystems.
  • Governance Model. The main difference between both projects is in their governance model, mainly for the definition of the architecture, the release cycle and the roadmap. While OpenStack is controlled by a Foundation driven by vendors, OpenNebula follows a centralized, "Benevolent Dictator" approach. OpenNebula is managed by a single organization that focuses on the interest of the project and strategically leads it to ensure that meets users needs.
  • Roadmap Definition. OpenNebula roadmap is completely driven by users needs with features that meet real demands, and not features that result from an agreement among the different vendors participating in the management board of the project.
  • Contributor Profile. While in OpenNebula most of contributions come from the users of the software, the contributors to OpenStack are mostly vendors building their own OpenStack-based cloud product. Since we started OpenNebula six years ago, we wanted users to have a voice in the project and not to privilege contributors over users.

Now the question is,

Why is OpenNebula following a "Benevolent Dictator" management model?.

In our view, OpenStack is governed by a consortium of competitors, trying to create its own product or to provide compatibility for its particular device. The mixture of vendor motivations makes it increasingly difficult for a foundation to meet both the needs of the project and the monetization goals of each vendor. It is also interesting to remark that many of these vendors are also offering commercial products that directly compete with OpenStack components.

Traditionally, multi-vendor industrial consortiums are the best approach to commoditize a core component in the long term, mainly when there exists solid base software, but not to bring to market a complete enterprise-ready solution from scratch in the short term. In these situations the addition of more developers and members slows the project down, and the well-known Brooks law (The Mythical Man-Month) applies both at development and governance levels. OpenStack is reaching a point where the consensus based approach has limited the competitiveness of the project.

We believe that a centralized model with a strong individual leadership is the best way to quickly build a production-ready enterprise-class open-source product, mainly in the early stages of a fast growing market. Please do not pin this on us being control freaks; we do so because we want to create a great product and we want to take responsibility for the entire product and need to be responsive to our users. Benevolent dictator governance is the model followed by other successful open-source projects like Android or Linux Kernel, and, in our view, it is the most effective way to focus on engineering quality, to prioritize user needs, and also to ensure long term support.

The above reasons are the foundation of this claim: OpenNebula is made for users by users, OpenStack is made for vendors by vendors. This may seem like a daring statement, but we have been following this path for years, and haven't observed anything that proves this wrong.

B. Different Cloud Models
Although there are as many ways to understand cloud computing as there are organizations planning to build a cloud, they mostly fall between two extreme cloud models:

  • Enterprise Cloud Model (Datacenter Virtualization): On one side, there are businesses that understand cloud as an extension of virtualization in the datacenter; hence looking for a VMware vCloud-like infrastructure automation tool to orchestrate and simplify the management of the virtualized resources.
  • Public Cloud Model (Infrastructure Provision): On the other side, there are businesses that understand cloud as an AWS-like cloud on-premise; hence looking for a provisioning tool to supply virtualized resources on-demand.

CloudModels

Although OpenStack now tries to be everything for everyone, it was created as an open-source effort to compete against Amazon Web Services (AWS). Therefore while OpenStack is addressing the Infrastructure Provision segment; OpenNebula better meets the needs of Enterprise Cloud Computing. Since both tools enable infrastructure cloud computing, there is some overlap in the features they provide. However, each cloud model presents different architectural constraints and requires specialized interfaces, management capabilities and integration support. OpenNebula and OpenStack serve different needs and implement completely different philosophies.

C. Different Product Views
OpenNebula is a single enterprise-ready open-source product
, easy to install and operate, with a single installing and updating process, a one-stop community and a long-term commercial support. Any organization can use the open-source distribution to build a production cloud, and receive best-effort support through the community mailing list. Additionally, any organization can purchase commercial support directly from the developers. The important aspect is that we do not deliver enterprise editions of the software, we commercially support the community software.

Architectures

On the other hand, OpenStack comprises many subprojects with different levels maturitythat require complex integration to achieve a functional cloud infrastructure. A growing number of components and subprojects is making even more difficult their integration and coordination, and the delivery of a single coherent solution. No update path is provided if you want to install a new version, and there is not commercial support. Any organization interested in using OpenStack, and requiring commercial support and enterprise maturity, is recommended (by the vendors running the project) to deploy any of the several enterprise distributions.

ValueChain

From a business perspective, OpenNebula does not compete with OpenStack but with the many existing vendor "stacks" based on OpenStack, mainly with those by HP, Red Hat and IBM. These enterprise-grade distributions incorporate different versions of the OpenStack components with extended features, custom enhancements and integrations that may erode their compatibility and interoperability. Moreover many of them include proprietary components and exhibit significant differences in the implementation of critical underlying functionality.

So the organization that chooses OpenStack is actually using proprietary software based on OpenStack, and is locked into that specific distribution given that the vendor only supports its own stack, not the community version. Even worse, there is no way to migrate to another vendor distribution. In other words, these distributions do not offer the main benefits of open-source: low-cost, no lock-in, flexibility and interoperability.

D. A Look To the Future
We expect OpenStack to further fragment into more vendor specific "stacks" with narrow test matrices and extended proprietary features that lock customers in and don't interoperate well. OpenStack's biggest success is marketing. These vendor "stacks" and cloud providers will continue marketing "OpenStack" as the primary and, in most cases only, differentiator.

However OpenStack penetration in the market is relatively small compared with the investment made by vendors and VCs. These vendor specific "stacks" are not only competing with OpenNebula, other open-source cloud management platforms like CloudStack and Eucalyptus, and proprietary incumbents, they are also competing between them and with the open source community itself. All vendors claim they are the OpenStack leader because it's a winner-take-all game. Only one of the OpenStack distributions will gain critical mass on public and private clouds. Red Hat, now the dominant contributor to OpenStack, is in our view the only plausible winner.

Don't get us wrong, OpenStack is an open-source project with excellent developers, and some of its components are great from a technology point of view. Because a single cloud management platform can not be all things to all people, we will see an open-source cloud space with several offerings focused on different environments and/or industries. This will be the natural evolution, the same happened in other markets. OpenNebula and OpenStack will coexist and, in some cases, work together in a broad open cloud ecosystem. In the meantime, we will continue with our focus on solving real user needs in innovative ways, and getting our users involved in a fully vendor-agnostic project.

More Stories By Ignacio M. Llorente

Dr. Llorente is Director of the OpenNebula Project and CEO & co-founder at C12G Labs. He is an entrepreneur and researcher in the field of cloud and distributed computing, having managed several international projects and initiatives on Cloud Computing, and authored many articles in the leading journals and proceedings books. Dr. Llorente is one of the pioneers and world's leading authorities on Cloud Computing. He has held several appointments as independent expert and consultant for the European Commission and several companies and national governments. He has given many keynotes and invited talks in the main international events in cloud computing, has served on several Groups of Experts on Cloud Computing convened by international organizations, such as the European Commission and the World Economic Forum, and has contributed to several Cloud Computing panels and roadmaps. He founded and co-chaired the Open Grid Forum Working Group on Open Cloud Computing Interface, and has participated in the main European projects in Cloud Computing. Llorente holds a Ph.D in Computer Science (UCM) and an Executive MBA (IE Business School), and is a Full Professor (Catedratico) and the Head of the Distributed Systems Architecture Group at UCM.

@CloudExpo Stories
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.