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OpenStack vs libvirt: What are the differences?

Key Differences between OpenStack and libvirt

OpenStack and libvirt are both open-source platforms used in cloud computing, but they have key differences that set them apart.

  1. Architecture: OpenStack is a complete cloud operating system that provides infrastructure as a service (IaaS), while libvirt is a library that helps manage virtualization platforms such as KVM, Xen, and QEMU. OpenStack has a modular architecture with various components, such as Nova, Glance, and Neutron, working together to provide a comprehensive cloud solution. On the other hand, libvirt acts as an interface to work with the hypervisor and manage virtual machines.

  2. Scope: OpenStack offers a wide range of cloud services, including compute, storage, and networking, along with supporting features like image management, identity service, and orchestration. It provides a holistic cloud infrastructure solution. In contrast, libvirt focuses specifically on managing the hypervisor and virtualization technologies. It provides APIs and tools for controlling virtualization features but does not encompass the entire cloud ecosystem.

  3. Community: OpenStack has a large and active community of developers and users from various organizations. It has widespread adoption and continues to evolve through collaborative efforts. Libvirt, although popular, has a relatively smaller community compared to OpenStack. It is primarily maintained as a part of the broader virtualization ecosystem, with contributions from virtualization-focused vendors and developers.

  4. Ease of Use: OpenStack, being a complete cloud operating system, requires a certain level of expertise to install, configure, and manage. It offers a web-based dashboard (Horizon) and a command-line interface (CLI) for administration. Libvirt, on the other hand, provides a simpler interface to manage the hypervisor and virtual machines. It can be integrated with various management tools and frameworks like Virt-manager, oVirt, and Red Hat Virtualization.

  5. Flexibility: OpenStack provides a flexible and scalable infrastructure framework that can be customized and extended to meet specific requirements. It allows users to define and manage various cloud resources through its APIs and provides a wide range of configuration options. Libvirt, being a library, offers a more focused set of features and may not provide the same level of flexibility as OpenStack. It is primarily designed to manage virtualization technologies within a given framework.

  6. Use Cases: OpenStack is suitable for enterprises and service providers looking to build and manage their cloud infrastructure. It can be deployed in private, public, or hybrid cloud environments. Libvirt, on the other hand, is primarily used by system administrators and developers who need to manage virtual machines and hypervisors. It is commonly used in virtualization-focused scenarios and can be integrated with other management tools and frameworks.

In summary, OpenStack is a comprehensive cloud operating system with a wide scope and flexible architecture, suitable for building and managing cloud infrastructure. Libvirt, on the other hand, is a library that focuses on managing hypervisors and virtualization technologies, offering simplicity and integration capabilities with other management tools.

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Pros of libvirt
Pros of OpenStack
  • 2
    Low overhead
  • 2
    Free
  • 2
    Built into most Linux distros
  • 2
    Fast
  • 2
    Native KVM and QEMU
  • 2
    Native hypervisor
  • 2
    Can fully manage via CLI or VirtManager
  • 2
    VirtIO direct hardware access
  • 1
    VirtIO direct hardware support
  • 56
    Private cloud
  • 38
    Avoid vendor lock-in
  • 22
    Flexible in use
  • 6
    Industry leader
  • 4
    Supported by many companies in top500
  • 4
    Robust architecture

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What is libvirt?

It is an open-source API, daemon and management tool for managing platform virtualization. It can be used to manage KVM, Xen, VMware ESXi, QEMU and other virtualization technologies.

What is OpenStack?

OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface.

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What companies use OpenStack?
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What are some alternatives to libvirt and OpenStack?
KVM
KVM (for Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a full virtualization solution for Linux on x86 hardware containing virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V).
VirtualBox
VirtualBox is a powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualization product for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2.
Qemu
When used as a machine emulator, it can run OSes and programs made for one machine (e.g. an ARM board) on a different machine (e.g. your own PC). By using dynamic translation, it achieves very good performance. When used as a virtualizer, it achieves near native performance by executing the guest code directly on the host CPU. it supports virtualization when executing under the Xen hypervisor or using the KVM kernel module in Linux. When using KVM, it can virtualize x86, server and embedded PowerPC, 64-bit POWER, S390, 32-bit and 64-bit ARM, and MIPS guests.
Docker
The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere
Vagrant
Vagrant provides the framework and configuration format to create and manage complete portable development environments. These development environments can live on your computer or in the cloud, and are portable between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
See all alternatives