VMware vSphere ESXi vs OpenStack | What’s the difference?

As OpenStack and VMware vSphere ESXi are both well-known enterprise products, they provide different services. In this article, I will introduce them respectively, and compare the differences.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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VMware ESXi vs OpenStack

You may have heard of VMware vSphere ESXi and OpenStack since they are both well-known products in the IT industry. They are actually very different in functions. Some users may want to learn more about the two and therefore determine which one to choose.

In this article, I will introduce them respectively, and compare the difference between OpenStack and VMware.

VMware ESXi vs OpenStack

What is VMware vSphere ESXi

VMware vSphere ESXi is a bare-metal hypervisor that installs and runs directly onto the physical hardware to create and manage multiple mutually independent virtual machines. This way, you can run multiple operating systems (OS) on a single physical server.

In the field of virtualization, bare metal hypervisors, also called type 1 hypervisors, are known for their space and cost efficiency as well as security. One of their best features is that they allow for over-allocation of physical resources. VMs themselves do not consume all the RAM you allocated, they only use the needed RAM to perform specific tasks.

VMware vSphere ESXi

How does VMware ESXi work

As a type 1 hypervisor, VMware ESXi itself act like lightweight OSs dedicated to running VMs.

It inserts a virtualization layer between the hardware and the operating system, abstracting the CPU, storage, memory and networking resources of the physical host into multiple virtual machines. This means that applications running in virtual machines can access these resources without accessing the underlying hardware directly.

VMware ESXi allows only simple server configuration, and you need to install a management console on another computer to connect to the server remotely. Management of the VMs is done through the console, you may need to provide license fees depending on the features you need.

How VMware ESXi works

What is OpenStack

OpenStack is an open source cloud computing infrastructure that allows users to use pooled virtual resources to build and manage cloud computing platforms for public and private clouds.

In cloud computing, OpenStack is considered Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - one of the four types of cloud services.

Tip: 4 types of cloud services: 1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 2. Platform as a Service (PaaS). 3. Software as a Service (SaaS). 4. Functions as a Service (FaaS).

IaaS reduces the cost and complexity of purchasing, managing and maintaining physical servers and data center infrastructure. Each virtual resource is offered as a separate service component, and you can flexibly scale up and down as needed, and pay for it, of course.

IaaS PaaS SaaS

How does OpenStack work

OpenStack relies on 2 other types of software to create cloud environments:

  • Virtualization that creates a layer of virtual resources abstracted from hardware
  • A base operating system (OS) that carries out commands given by OpenStack scripts

OpenStack is essentially a series of commands known as scripts. But instead of executing the commands, OpenStack relays them to the base operating system (OS). Also, OpenStack itself doesn’t virtualize resources, but uses them to build clouds. All 3 technologies—OpenStack, virtualization, and the base OS—must work together.

OpenStack landscape

VMware ESXi vs OpenStack: What are the differences?

OpenStack and VMware vSphere ESXi are not really in competition since they offer different services. The product that would come close to OpenStack would be VMware vCloud.

To choose between them, what you actually need to decide is whether your organization want to use cloud infrastructure or virtualized infrastructure. Furthermore, you may need to consider according to the following facts:

  • Flexibility: OpenStack is a modular and extensible based on core and optional services. You can mix and match components and services you need. While VMware ESXi is non-modular and dedicated to virtualization.
  • Cost: With OpenStack, you can save on storage infrastructure costs, but it adds to the management costs. The reverse is true with vSphere.
  • Expertise: With VMware ESXi, there are intuitive GUI and wizards available. However, for OpenStack, you may need more expertise or learn from the documentation.

And if you prefer to automate the management of new or existing VMware vSphere ESXi infrastructures with OpenStack, you may also consider VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO).

It provides developers with OpenStack APIs that can access a VMware virtualized infrastructure and has been tested and supported by VMware. Organizations can deploy and manage an OpenStack private cloud on existing vSphere infrastructure. However, VIO features can be expensive.

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VMware ESXi vs OpenStack is actually a comparison between cloud computing infrastructure and virtualized infrastructure. To choose between them, you need to consider the organization’s infrastructure requirements, storage setup, costs, and the staff expertise. In this article, I made a comparison to show the differences between OpenStack and VMware ESXi. Hope it could help you.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.