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Which open source cloud infrastructure tool is right for me?

Choosing the wrong open source cloud infrastructure tool can take a toll on your IT environment. So which one is right for my business?

Open source or not, the cloud infrastructure tool you ultimately select will become critical to your data center environment. And once the tool is deployed, integrated, configured and in production, switching would cause a significant disruption in cloud services.

To choose the best open source cloud infrastructure tool for your business, evaluate potential tools upfront and select the best candidate from the start. Ask whether the tool does what you need it to do. Cloud infrastructure tools are complex and open source tools, in particular, may not be well-documented, which makes it tough to perform objective comparisons.

Here's a breakdown of common open source cloud infrastructure tools to help you determine which makes the most sense for your cloud environment.

Examining three common open source cloud infrastructure tools

  1. Apache CloudStack is a multi-tenant Java tool that supports multiple hypervisors, including XenServer, KVM, Hyper-V and vSphere. It offers APIs for software integration and a web-based interface for cloud management. Additionally, CloudStack can:
  • Manage storage instances on hypervisors.
  • Orchestrate network services such as DHCP, NAT, firewalls and VPNs.
  • Offer reporting functionality for network, compute and storage resources.
  • Provide user management capabilities.
  1. OpenNebula provides a rich feature set that organizations can use to create fully functional clouds. Capabilities include:
  • Multi-tenant and highly secure operations.
  • On-demand provisioning and monitoring of compute, storage and network resources.
  • High availability
  • Distributed resource optimization for better workload performance.
  • Centralized management across multiple availability zones and interfaces for public clouds like Amazon Web Services.
  • Significant extensibility
  1. OpenStack is a comprehensive operating system for cloud environments. It's composed of separate compute, storage and networking modules built on a foundation of shared services such as identity, image handling and orchestration. OpenStack also includes a dashboard interface.

Open source tools like CloudStack, OpenNebula, OpenStack and others are intended to convert a virtualized data center into a private or public cloud. While the features above are general, the actual feature sets for each product are extremely large, so carefully assess and compare them before deployment.

In addition, examine each tool's roadmap and future development directions. The tool you choose today must be compatible with other tools, services, APIs and systems that you plan to deploy in the future. The extensibility and versatility of cloud infrastructure middleware helps prevent complete roadblocks. However, organizations should still test and document all product updates and configuration changes before rolling them out to production.

Stephen J. Bigelow is the senior technology editor of the Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. He can be reached at [email protected]

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