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Cloud platform comparison: CloudStack, Eucalyptus, vCloud Director and OpenStack

By Vadim Truksha, IT infrastructure architect, Altoros Systems Inc., special to Network World
July 16, 2012 05:00 PM ET

Network World - Cloud computing remains one of the hottest topics in IT today given the promise of greatly improved efficiencies, significant cost savings, scalable infrastructure and high performance and secured data storage.

Choosing the appropriate cloud platform, however, can be difficult. They all have pros and cons. So, when a customer asked me and my colleagues at Altoros Systems, a software product development company, what would be the best cloud platform for his project and why, we decided to take a deep look at the most notable systems available, compare their capabilities, and summarize the findings in a product-by-product table. We tested CloudStack, Eucalyptus, vCloud Director and OpenStack.

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Below you will find information on features available in free and commercial versions of the cloud platforms, their price, documentation completeness, and community matureness. In addition, the errors found during the deployment process are addressed by detailed instructions on bug fixing. (Please note that by the time the research is published the products may be updated by the vendors.)

The goal of this unbiased comparison is to help you align your business requirements with the capabilities of a particular cloud system and -- finally -- select the best-fit product.

CloudStack 3.0.0

CloudStack is a console for managing data center computing resources. A number of well-known information-driven companies, such as Zynga, Nokia Research Center and Cloud Central, have deployed clouds using CloudStack. Apart from having its own API, the platform supports CloudBridge Amazon EC2, which enables converting an Amazon API into a CloudStack API. You can find a detailed list of the supported commands here.

Main features:

- Hypervisors agnostic (KVM, XEN, ESXi, OVM and BareMetal)

- Roles (assigning and managing permissions)

- Virtual network (VLAN support)

- Resource pool (enables administrators to limit virtual resources, for example, the number of virtual machines that can be created by one account, the number of public IP addresses assigned to an account, etc.)

- Snapshots and volumes

- Virtual routers, a firewall, and a load balancer

- Live migration with host maintenance

If your data center is based on vSphere, CloudStack will use a vCenter API. This means that you will be able to manage your data processing center that has been dynamically deployed using vSphere 4.1.

Price: CloudStack is distributed for free under the GNU Public License v3. To get paid support, you should contact its developers via email.

Community: There is an online community ready to provide timely technical support for free. You can find solutions to many CloudStack issues on the Forum. There is also an IRC channel where everyone is welcome to ask questions.

Documentation: If you have a basic technical background, it will be rather easy for you to install the CloudStack platform with default settings. If a more complex and complicated installation is required, you might experience some challenges, as the documentation does not cover complex issues in full. The manual gives step-by-step instructions but does not provide any information on how the platform functions in general.

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