Exploring OpenStack as a VMware Alternative: A Comprehensive Guide

Exploring OpenStack as a VMware Alternative: A Comprehensive Guide


In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, businesses are continuously seeking ways to improve their operations, optimize resource operation, and gain a competitive edge. Cloud computing has emerged as a transformative force, enabling organizations to access a huge pool of computing resources on-demand, adopting agility, and driving innovation.

VMware’s dominance in the virtualization market can be endorsed to a combination of factors. Primarily, VMware was one of the first companies to develop virtualization technology, giving them a head start in the market. Secondly, VMware’s products were known for their consistency, performance, and ease of use, which made them popular with customers. Moreover, VMware invested comprehensively in research and development, allowing them to continuously improve their products and stay ahead of the competition. Finally, VMware also benefited from solid partnerships with hardware vendors, which helped to increase their market share. Overall, these factors helped VMware establish itself as a lead in the virtualization market.

But, navigating the complexities of cloud computing can be daunting, particularly when faced with concerns like vendor lock-in, security, and complexity challenges with the increasing license costs and the lack of control and customization options. That’s why we are looking for alternatives that provide more tailored solutions, better control, and lower costs.

Enter OpenStack, a free, open-source cloud computing platform that endows businesses to take control of their cloud infrastructure, manage and deploy virtual machines, and join the full potential of cloud computing. OpenStack’s open-source nature promotes collaboration, innovation, and rapid development, ensuring that businesses remain at the forefront of cloud technology advancements.

This article provides insights into OpenStack the top alternative to VMware, specifying their key features and advantages for organizations looking for more streamlined and effective cloud solutions.

Also Read: How to Manage ESXi 8.0 Host using VMware Host Client?

Understanding VMware and Its Limitations

Moving employees to remote work necessitates the creation of several virtual desktops. And they should have good dynamic hardware resources and be based on a consistent software platform. Virtualization systems from VMWare, such as vSphere, ESXi, and vCenter Server, are reflected the most popular and in demand.

VMware has a good repute for cloud security and virtualization within a single management framework but particular its high price point compounded with new acquisition doubts, now may be a good time to reconsider your options. VMware offers virtualization services through a proprietary sourced platform, owned and operated by VMware. The word to pay attention to in this statement is “proprietary”. That’s because VMware is built to operate on specific, special-purpose hardware and software. And, the further access you need to higher levels of services, the more you will be likely to pay.

These licensing costs are a substantial portion of VMware’s monthly costs. According to a Trefis report on VMware’s reported revenues, software licensing accounted for 43% of entire revenue in 2020. With the acquisition by Broadcom, there are concerns that these licensing costs will become even more aching for users.

We have already recognized above that VMware very much depends on special-purpose hardware and software that increases costs. However, the move to a subscription-based model can also lead to a vendor lock-in situation. Based on historical actions seen in the outcome of Broadcom acquisitions, many fear that the real purpose for a transition to a subscription-based model is that it will allow VMware to:

  • Eliminate term discounting regularly used to attain and retain high value clients.
  • Rise services costs if and when VMware chooses to do so.
  • Limit price negotiations.
  • Gain leverage over customers on their service.

Other foremost issue is Scalability which depends on the physical servers and data storage that host the vCenter Operations Manager vApp and the View Adapter. CPU and memory resource contention might upset the performance of vCenter Operations Manager for View, so use reservations or shares to manage those resources.

Introducing OpenStack

OpenStack is a set of software tools for building and organizing cloud computing platforms for public and private clouds. Supported by some of the leading companies in software development and hosting, as well as thousands of individual community members, many think that OpenStack is the future of cloud computing. OpenStack is managed by the OpenStack Foundation, a non-profit that manages both development and community-building around the project.

Below, we outline the essential features that characterize OpenStack, giving you a deeper understanding of your prospective applications in cloud operations. Let’s take a quicker look at these vital characteristics:

  • Modularity and Flexibility: enabling organizations to carve their infrastructure which aligns with specific operational directives. 
  • Scalability: targets to assist organizations in managing improved traffic and positioning services nearer to their user base.
  • Networking: supports advanced networking functionalities, with Quality of Service (QoS), firewall, and VPN capabilities, offering a solid foundation for safeguarding and enhancing network traffic
  • Multi-Tenancy: intended to assist organizations in distributing resources intelligently while upholding firm security and isolation measures for each tenant.
  • Automation: likely to enhance the scalability and management of resources, promoting a potentially more compliant infrastructure.
  • Community and Vendor Support: blend of community input and vendor support aims to provide organizations with a network of resources and support when consuming OpenStack’s features

OpenStack’s Open-source Nature and its Community-driven Deployment Model.

OpenStack is a vastly scalable open-source project that provides an infrastructure platform to build cloud-aware applications and manage both private and public clouds.

The fully-functional cloud platform is formed by specific projects like Nova (compute), Cinder (block storage), Neutron (networking), and others, which enables IaaS support for third-party PaaS services. It is more of an open community supported by thousands of members for designing, developing, and fixing.

The deployment model of OpenStack is as follows: 

  1. On-Premises Distribution
  2. OpenStack-Based Public Cloud
  3. Hosted OpenStack Private Cloud
  4. OpenStack-As-A-Service
  5. Application Based OpenStack
OpenStack's Open-source Nature and its Community-driven Deployment Model.

Figure resource: issuu.com

Also Read: Introducing vSAN Max: Revolutionizing VMware’s Storage Solution

Comparison of OpenStack’s Architecture with VMware’s

InfrastructureCloud infrastructureVirtualized infrastructure
Configurations and settingsUse CLI to install and configure block storage, DNS, messaging, and further services that entail compatibility, research, design, and experts.Easy installation contains components like ESXi, vCenter Server, vSphere, and vCloud.
SupportManaged by Open Infrastructure Foundation and supported by community members.An entire ecosystem includes official support, documentation, and forums.
ManagementHorizon dashboardvCenter
Licensing feesFree of chargeDiffer with versions and products, per-CPU pricing model
Integrated toolsTerrafrom, Ansible, Rancher, Fastly, Packer, SpinnakerAnsible, Datadog, Rancher, Netdata, Cloud Foundry, Bitnami
Well-known usersHubspot, Wikipedia, Foretag, SurveyMonkey, Trendyol GroupHermes, Apple, Walmart, Costco, Intel, IBM, Microsft, FedEx.

Features and Benefits of OpenStack

  • Necessitates persistent block storage.
  • Possess the direct object storage.
  • Consume shared resources as a service.
  • Enable infrastructure design and deployment elasticity.
  • Provision and organize the cloud under a multi-hypervisor environment.
  • Can run multi-tier workloads and development tools.
  • Support nearly all hypervisors like ESXi, Xen, KVM, and Hyper-V.
  • Form a cloud OS to organize, provision, and cope resource pools.


  • An open-source platform lets anyone to customize and deploy.
  • Support from global vendors of OEMs or OS supports interoperability with many APIs.
  • Easily integrated with multiple hypervisors to use present infrastructure.
  • Avoid vendor lock-in.
  • End users simply provision resources.
  • Low hardware purchase need and cost.
  • Lower upfront costs and potential for reduced operating expenses related to VMware.

Use Cases and Case Studies

Real-world Examples of Organizations Successfully Deploying OpenStack.


Walmart depends on OpenStack as its cloud computing infrastructure solution. OpenStack provides Walmart with a scalable, reliable, and cost-effective way to run its several applications, including e-commerce, supply chain management, and point-of-sale systems.

By leveraging OpenStack, Walmart has practiced enhanced application performance, improved consistency, and heightened security measures, all while attaining cost savings in its cloud computing operations.

Generally, Walmart’s successful utilization of OpenStack acmes the platform’s versatility, agility, and ability to drive significant benefits for businesses.


PayPal relies on OpenStack to power its global infrastructure, aiding from its scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. By leveraging OpenStack for several workloads, including web applications, API services, and security, PayPal has enhanced agility, reliability, and security.

OpenStack’s ability to meet diverse infrastructure necessities has helped optimize PayPal’s business operations. With improved agility and reliability, enhanced security, and cost-effectiveness, OpenStack proves to be a valued cloud infrastructure solution for organizations seeking scalability and efficiency.

Also Read: 9 Best Server Virtualization Software for 2024

 Use Cases Where OpenStack Outperforms VMware or Provides Unique Benefits

  1. Large-Scale Deployments: OpenStack is well-suited for large-scale deployments where cost-effectiveness and scalability are main factors. Its open-source nature allows organizations to deploy and manage cloud infrastructure across thousands of nodes without sustaining additional licensing costs, making it more cost-effective than VMware for massive deployments.
  2. Edge Computing: OpenStack’s distributed architecture and support for edge computing make it an ultimate choice for deploying cloud infrastructure at the edge. It enables organizations to manage resources closer to where data is generated, decreasing latency and improving performance for edge applications such as IoT, industrial automation, and smart cities.
  3. Research and Education: OpenStack is broadly adopted in the academic and research community due to its flexibility, customization options, and cost-effectiveness. Universities, research institutions, and educational organizations often choose OpenStack to form private and public clouds for conducting scientific experiments, running simulations, and collaborating on research projects.
  4. Telecommunications: OpenStack is progressively being used by telecommunications companies to virtualize network functions and build cloud-native infrastructure. Its sustenance for NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) and SDN (Software-Defined Networking) enables telcos to deploy and manage virtualized network services more efficiently, reduce costs, and accelerate service improvement.
  5. Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud Environments: OpenStack outdoes in hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments, allowing organizations to seamlessly incorporate on-premises infrastructure with public cloud services from multiple providers. Its open-source nature and interoperability with several cloud platforms make it easier for businesses to avoid vendor lock-in and maintain flexibility in their cloud strategy.
  6. DevOps and CI/CD Pipelines: OpenStack’s API-driven architecture and support for infrastructure as code (IaC) make it well-suited for DevOps performs and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. Developers can automate the provisioning, configuration, and management of cloud resources using tools like Ansible, Terraform, and Heat, enabling quicker delivery of applications and services.
  7. Government and Public Sector: OpenStack is often selected by government agencies and public sector organizations for building private clouds and hosting sensitive workloads due to its security features, compliance capabilities, and open-source transparency. It allows government persons to maintain control over their data and infrastructure while benefiting from the scalability and flexibility of cloud computing.
  8. Customized Workloads and Specialized Environments: OpenStack’s integrated architecture and extensibility make it suitable for organizations with customized workload requirements or specialized environments. Whether it’s high-performance computing (HPC), big data analytics, machine learning, or GPU-accelerated workloads, OpenStack can be personalized to meet the exceptional needs of diverse applications and industries.

Considerations and Challenges

Deploying and managing OpenStack can be an intricate endeavor, and organizations often encounter various challenges related to the learning curve and operational traits of the platform. Here are some common challenges:

  1. Complexity of Deployment: OpenStack is a vastly configurable platform with numerous components and services, which can make the primary deployment process complex. This complexity often needs a deep understanding of networking, storage, and virtualization concepts.
  2. Learning Curve: OpenStack has a steep learning curve, particularly for administrators who are new to the platform. Understanding the architecture, terminology, and interactions between different components can take time.
  3. Resource Requirements: OpenStack requires substantial hardware resources to operate efficiently, server infrastructure, storage systems, and networking equipment, which can be expensive.
  4. Integration Challenges: Integrating OpenStack with existing IT infrastructure and systems can be challenging, mainly if there are compatibility issues or dependencies with legacy technologies.
  5. Operational Complexity: Once deployed, managing and operating an OpenStack environment requires ongoing maintenance, monitoring, and troubleshooting.
  6.  Security Concerns: Administrators need to implement robust security measures, such as network segmentation, access controls, encryption, and regular security audits, to shield against unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security risks.
  7. Vendor Lock-in: While OpenStack is open-source and provides vendor neutrality, organizations may still face vendor lock-in challenges, especially if they rely on proprietary extensions, plugins, or services from specific vendors.

By integrating OpenStack with existing infrastructure and tools, organizations can leverage their investments, lessen complexity, and improve the functionality and efficiency of their cloud environments. It’s vital to carefully plan and test integrations to certify compatibility, interoperability, and security across the whole infrastructure stack.

Also Read: VMware Alternatives: Exploring Server Virtualization Software

Support and Community Resources Available for OpenStack Users.

OpenStack has a robust and active community that provides different support resources for users. Here are some vital support channels and community resources available for OpenStack users:

  • Official Documentation
  • User Forums and Mailing Lists
  • Launchpad Bug Tracking
  • IRC (Internet Relay Chat
  • OpenStack Foundation Events
  • Stack Overflow
  • Social Media and Blogs
  • Training and Certification
  • Local User Groups
  • Documentation Contribution and OpenStack Wiki
  • Vendor and Community-supported Platforms

Getting Started with OpenStack

Steps to Deploy and Configure OpenStack in a Lab or Production Environment.

Deploying and configuring OpenStack in a lab or production environment comprises several steps, which can vary depending on factors such as the preferred deployment method, hardware resources, networking infrastructure, and specific requirements. Here’s an overall view of the process:

Planning and Requirements Gathering

Define the purpose and goals of your OpenStack deployment.

  • Evaluate hardware and networking requirements, including server hardware specifications, network topology, and storage capacity.
  • Choose on the OpenStack components and services you need based on your use case and workload requirements.

Choose Deployment Method

Select a deployment method based on your expertise, resources, and requirements. Common deployment methods include:

  1. Manual installation
  2. Automated deployment tools
  3. Set Up Infrastructure:
    • Organize the infrastructure for OpenStack deployment, including provisioning servers, configuring networking, and setting up storage.
    • Ensure that servers meet the hardware requirements and are accurately connected to the network.
    • Configure DNS, DHCP, and NTP services for time synchronization and name resolution.
  4. Install Operating System:
    • Install a supported Linux distribution on each server, such as Ubuntu, CentOS, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
    • Configure basic system settings, including network interfaces, hostnames, and firewall rules.
  5. Install OpenStack Components:
    • Depending on the chosen deployment method, follow the suitable installation instructions for deploying OpenStack components.
  6. Configure Networking:
    • Configure Neutron, OpenStack’s networking service, to provide network connectivity to instances.
    • Define networks, subnets, routers, security groups, and other networking resources based on your network architecture and requirements.
    • Integrate Neutron with external networking infrastructure if needed, such as VLANs, routers, or SDN controllers.
  7. Configure Storage:
    • Configure Cinder for block storage, Glance for image storage, and Swift or Ceph for object storage, depending on your storage requirements.
    • Define storage pools, volumes, and storage backends to provide persistent storage for instances and applications.
  8. Configure Identity and Authentication:
    • Set up Keystone, OpenStack’s identity service, to manage authentication, authorization, and user management.
    • Define users, projects, roles, and permissions to control access to OpenStack resources.
    • Integrate Keystone with external identity providers or LDAP directories if compulsory.
  9. Test and Validate:
    • Test the deployment by launching instances, creating networks, attaching volumes, and performing other common tasks.
    • Validate functionality, performance, and reliability to ensure that the OpenStack environment meets your requirements.
    • Troubleshoot any issues that arise during testing and address them accordingly.
  10. Monitor and Maintain:
    • Set up monitoring and logging tools to monitor the health, performance, and usage of OpenStack services and resources.
    • Implement backup and disaster recovery strategies to protect data and ensure business continuity.
    • Regularly update and patch OpenStack components to address security vulnerabilities and bugs.
    • Document the deployment configuration, procedures, and best practices for future reference and troubleshooting.
  11. Training and Documentation:
    • Provide training and documentation for administrators and users to familiarize them with the OpenStack environment and its usage.

Recommended Resources for Learning OpenStack.

Here’s a list of recommended resources for learning OpenStack:

  • Official OpenStack Documentation
  • Books:
    • “OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook” by Kevin Jackson, Cody Bunch.
    • “OpenStack in Action” by V. K. Cody Bumgardner.
  • Online Courses: OpenStack Courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Pluralsight.
  • Community Resources:
    • OpenStack Community
    • OpenStack User Groups (OSUGs)
  • Blogs and Tutorials
  • OpenStack Summit and Events
  • Hands-On Experience
  • Certification Preparation

Also Read: VMware vSphere 8: Identify NFS, iSCSI, and SAN Storage Access Protocols


What are the key differences between OpenStack and VMware?

           OpenStack is open-source software that is freely available and can be customized and extended by users. VMware, on the other hand, is a proprietary solution that requires licensing fees. OpenStack offers more flexibility and customization options, while VMware provides a more integrated and feature-rich virtualization platform with comprehensive management tools.

Why would someone choose OpenStack over VMware?

Organizations may choose OpenStack over VMware as it allows users to build and manage cloud infrastructure using open standards and interoperable technologies, providing more control and flexibility compared to proprietary solutions like VMware.

What are the main use cases for OpenStack as an alternative to VMware?

OpenStack is well-suited for use cases such as large-scale cloud deployments, edge computing, multi-tenancy environments, hybrid cloud deployments, and specialized workloads like big data analytics and high-performance computing (HPC).

Is OpenStack compatible with VMware environments?

While OpenStack and VMware are often considered alternatives, they can also be used together in hybrid cloud environments. OpenStack provides integration with VMware vSphere through plugins and drivers, allowing users to manage VMware-based virtualization infrastructure alongside OpenStack-managed resources.

What are the challenges of migrating from VMware to OpenStack?

Migrating from VMware to OpenStack can pose challenges such as differences in architecture, management tools, and operational processes, invest in training, rearchitecting applications, and redesigning workflows to adapt to the new environment.


In today’s world, where cloud computing has become a cornerstone of digital transformation, OpenStack stands as a tribute to the power of open-source innovation, empowering organizations to take control of their cloud computing destiny.

With its open-source nature, scalability, flexibility, and robust community support, OpenStack offers several advantages. Organizations can leverage OpenStack to host web applications, perform big data analytics, support DevOps initiatives, and create hybrid cloud environments.

By harnessing the influence of OpenStack, organizations can thrust their digital transformation journeys, unlock new possibilities, and achieve greater agility and success in the dynamic world of cloud computing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top