CloudStack vs. OpenStack

Mohit Lalwani
7 min readJun 6, 2022


What is OpenStack?

OpenStack is an open-source cloud management platform that controls huge amounts of storage and networking resources throughout a data center. It started as a joint project of Rackspace hosting provider and NASA.

OpenStack was designed to manage the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) type of cloud computing. It consists of a huge number of components covering all of the requirements of IaaS platform users.

Some of the main components of the OpenStack platform are:

  • Horizon
  • Nova
  • Neutron
  • Glace
  • Cinder
  • Swift

OpenStack uses its own API for all of its operations. OpenStack usually utilizes the Python programming language. RabbitMQ is used for communication between components. Database control is handled by MySQL or other compatible database servers such as MariaDB or Galera.

What is CloudStack?

Apache CloudStack is an open-source IaaS platform that was created to be independent of the specific hypervisor, to provide high availability of services and virtual machines, and to be open for different APIs. It is a project carried out by Citrix with the Apache license.

The CloudStack project is written mainly in Java programming language, and it uses RabbitMQ for communication between components and MySQL as the database server. CloudStack supports a wide range of hypervisors, such as:

  • LXC
  • KVM
  • XenServer
  • VMware

Besides its own API, CloudStack also supports Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as the Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI), a set of specifications delivered through the Open Grid Forum (OGF).


Apache CloudStack

Figure 1 — Architecture of CloudStack

Apache CloudStack offers an approach with minimal friction. It’s a monolithic cloud management platform that abstracts servers, storage, and network. The users and accounts are isolated in a domain hierarchy that logically isolates cloud resources, providing a multi-tenant cloud platform.

There are three different APIs: OAM&P (Operations, Administration, Maintenance, and Provisioning) API, End-user API and Plugin API. The End-user API is a REST-like API through which end-users and administrators can control CloudStack. There are various client-side bindings like Ansible, Terraform and Packer that allow the caller to quickly put together scripts to automate processes within CloudStack. The OAM&P API is used for CloudStack components to talk to the Server Resource, which then translates this API to what the hardware resource understands. This API is based on JSON and can be written in any language and run on any convenient platform. The Plugin API allows users to insert code directly into CloudStack deployments to add to or modify the behavior of CloudStack. This is a Java API and there is a set of predefined functionalities exposed through this API. CloudStack is also integrated with Kubernetes, enabling users to run hybrid cloud workloads.

Because of its integrated architecture, CloudStack is installed as a single product. This, simplifies deployment, operation, maintenance, and upgrades, significantly reducing downtime in a production environment.


Figure 2— Architecture of OpenStack

The OpenStack platform is a collection of separate projects, designed to work together to handle the core cloud-computing services of compute, networking, storage, identity, and image services. It is possible to combine these services together to deliver the desired features to an IaaS cloud.

Essentially, OpenStack is a set of commands for managing each cloud infrastructure resource. These commands allow the resources to be abstracted and made available to end-users.


While OpenStack and CloudStack can be used in different ways, they both have similarities:

  • New versions of both platforms are released periodically by their respective platforms, with improvements made to the features
  • Both can be used for either public or private cloud.
  • Both OpenStack and CloudStack have a straightforward and easy-to-understand user interface.

The scope of the OpenStack Foundation has led to many additional projects being created. Below we compare which OpenStack projects would be required in order to match the functionality of Apache CloudStack.

CloudStack vs OpenStack: Key Differences

Ease of Use

The usage and deployment of OpenStack has become much easier than before in last few years whereas the usage of CloudStack has always been straightforward and simple.

CloudStack provides a single portal that is used to manage resource usage and availability. It is perfect for daily use with centralized management. With CloudStack, it is very easy to manage several servers running across the globe. Whereas OpenStack is not as user-friendly as CloudStack. OpenStack users face a lot of difficulty in architecting and installing OpenStack. It is also time taking in the case of OpenStack.

Differing Concepts

Although both the stacks are trying to solve similar problems, they are still fundamentally different. In OpenStack, you are free to create all the building blocks from scratch customized to your requirements, whereas in CloudStack, you get a ready product to which you can plug and play.

You can create your own unique cloud by using OpenStack, it is modular and customizable. It gives you complete freedom in creating the infrastructure and scaling it as per the need. Whereas Apache CloudStack is not that flexible when compared to OpenStack. It provides bundled modules with a few exceptions of network controllers.

Speed to Production

Creating a production-ready infrastructure faster is an essential requirement of every organization. Unfortunately, OpenStack is not preferable in this aspect. Deploying an infrastructure with CloudStack may take you just a few hours. But if you are new to OpenStack, it may take a few days because you will have to solve all the errors you get while installing OpenStack. Trust me, it is painful!

Installation Process

The installation is the biggest problem of OpenStack. There are many components you need to install one by one manually to get an up and running OpenStack infrastructure. You also have to create users and databases in MySQL manually. There is a lot of scope for improvement in OpenStack when it comes to installation. Whereas in CloudStack, you don’t need to do any installation yourself. You just need to provide the specifications you want in your infrastructure, and the CloudStack will do the rest for you.

Forum Support/ Community

OpenStack has an extensive and active community of developers. The community is actively working on releasing new features to OpenStack. But with a lot of developers and new feature developments come a lot of bugs and issues. If you are looking to answer an OpenStack problem, you will find many threads with mixed responses. So, sometimes it becomes confusing to find the correct solution to an issue.

CloudStack has a much smaller community when compared to OpenStack. The number of contributors is much lesser here and so you need to wait for the new features before they are production-ready. They have not been able to attract many contributors and organizations to improve their community interactions and development.


Apache CloudStack uses simplified Encryption (JASYPT) library to protect your documents from unauthorized access. This library encrypts and decrypts all the data using a secret key and stores the key on its internal property files.

Whereas OpenStack uses dm-crypt to keep your files and resources secured from hackers and malware. It is a transparent disk encryption subsystem in Linux operating system which has codes to protects your sensitive business information. Overall, both have good enough security features.

Pricing Plans

Apache CloudStack is free to use cloud computing platform. There is no cost involved to create, modify or maintain the applications in CloudStack. On the other hand, you need to contact the sales team of OpenStack to get a quote. So, pricing wise CloudStack is more preferable by organizations.

Figure 3 — CloudStack vs OpenStack

Which One to Choose: CloudStack or OpenStack?

OpenStack is a big product with a lot of support from its community and big firms such as Yahoo, Dell and IBM. It offers flexibility, but the installation is complicated. But still, there are few readymade templates available online which can use used for faster installation. CloudStack is much simpler and has a better user interface. The deployment of infrastructure is much easier than OpenStack. It is very easy to distribute and deployment is smooth. Pricing-wise, CloudStack is preferable for small organizations which have a tight budget, while OpenStack can be more preferable for big organizations as it works on quote-based pricing.

Advantages of OpenStack

  • Great reliability and security.
  • There are not many prerequisites.
  • You can access the cloud services from devices with an Internet connection.
  • Uniform standard.
  • There are no access location limitations.
  • Upgradable performance and storage.

Disadvantages of OpenStack

  • Lack of any kind of organized support.
  • XEN and KVM are the main supported hypervisors, which may lead to problems during the integration of some of the virtualization solutions.

Advantages of CloudStack

  • You are able to set quotas and resource limits for user accounts.
  • It creates the experience of total control of data for end users.
  • It is actively working on fixing bugs.
  • It provides low-cost solutions.
  • It has solid documentation.

Disadvantages of CloudStack

  • Server logs are not friendly.
  • Volume size limitations.
  • Undocumented bugs are reported that can sometimes compromise the entire infrastructure.
  • Upgrades are not straightforward.


In short, both CloudStack and OpenStack are very popular cloud management platforms. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for flexibility in your infrastructure, go for OpenStack. And if you want the ease of use, go with CloudStack. The best option is to think about the features you want in your infrastructure and which among these two offer those features best.

Authors: Aditya Wanjari, Mohit Lalwani, Nitesh sonawane , Anushka Wankhade, Shresthi Yadav