What is OpenStack?

Imagine a data centre. Hundreds of physical machines, racked, powered and connected to each other. One tool turns this data centre into a cloud and enables on-demand resource provisioning through a self-service portal. That’s OpenStack!

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Read the whitepaper - “OpenStack deployment guide” ›

OpenStack ensures maximum multi-cloud cost optimisation

A private cloud is a cost-efficient extension of the public cloud infrastructure. Since more and more organisations are deciding to use multi-cloud architecture, implementing a private cloud is a natural step once the number of workloads grows. Although CapEx costs associated with an initial deployment of the private cloud are high, its OpEx costs are significantly lower compared to public clouds. As a result, the aggregated total cost of ownership (TCO) per virtual machine (VM) is lower when running workloads in the long term and at scale. This allows businesses to optimise their infrastructure costs and always run their applications where it makes most of the sense from the economical point of view.

Learn how much you can save with OpenStack ›

Is OpenStack just a virtualisation management platform?

Unlike traditional virtualisation management platforms, such as VMware vSphere or Red Hat Virtualization Manager, OpenStack is a fully functional cloud platform as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This means that OpenStack basically resembles the behaviour of public clouds. Users can request compute, network and storage resources on-demand through a self-service portal. Although they are provided in the form of virtual machines, virtual network and virtual disks, exactly as in the traditional virtualisation management platforms, they are defined through the APIs. For businesses, the ability to define virtualised resources programmatically enables fast-paced infrastructure automation and cloud-style operations.

But there are more differences between OpenStack and traditional virtualisation management platforms. Refer to the following table for more information:

OpenStack Virtualisation management platforms
TCO Low High
Resource management methodology “Cattle” “Pets”
Resource provisioning mechanism Template-based Image-based
Hardware Commodity Specialised
Scalability Scale out Scale up
Workload Stateless Stateful
Open source Yes Mostly no

Move from VMware to OpenStack ›

How does OpenStack work?

OpenStack is an open source private cloud platform designed to manage distributed compute, network and storage resources in the data centre. In principle, OpenStack aggregates physical resources into one big pool and allocates virtual resources out of this pool to users who can request them on-demand through a self-service portal or application programming interfaces (APIs). But OpenStack itself does not handle virtualisation. Instead, it leverages the existing virtualisation technologies. Therefore, OpenStack is more like a wrapper around traditional virtualisation tools, enabling cloud-native capabilities.

OpenStack components

OpenStack is based on a modular architecture. There are six primary OpenStack components which handle compute, network and storage functions for on-demand VM provisioning. A bunch of other components enable additional features, such as dashboarding, bare metal provisioning, containers, secrets management and telemetry. In order to handle this complexity, organisations often use OpenStack Charms for fully automated OpenStack installation and post-deployment operations.


Nova is the primary compute engine of OpenStack, responsible for instance scheduling, creation and termination. In order to ensure widespread interoperability, Nova supports a wide range of hypervisors, including QEMU/KVM, Hyper-V, VMware ESXi and Xen.


Glance is an image service, responsible for uploading, managing and retrieving cloud images for instances running on OpenStack. Glance works across a variety of stores to provide the most convenient location of images for organisations.


Neutron provides network connectivity between OpenStack instances, enabling multi-VM deployments. For this purpose, Neutron uses various software defined networking (SDN) technologies, including Open Virtual Network (OVN), Open vSwitch (OVS), Juniper Contrail, Cisco ACI, etc.


Cinder is a storage component that is responsible for provisioning, management and termination of persistent block devices. Those can be later attached to the instances running on OpenStack to enable persistent block storage.


Swift is another storage component that provides a highly available and scalable object storage service similar to Amazon S3. It enables storing and retrieving unstructured data objects using a RESTful API for both OpenStack services and instances running on the cloud.


Keystone serves as an identity service, providing authentication and authorization functions for the users in order to enable multi-tenancy. Keystone can be easily integrated with external identity systems, such as lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) or Active Directory.

Companies involved in OpenStack

OpenStack was originally launched in July 2010 by Rackspace and NASA as an open source initiative that combined NASA’s Nebula platform and Rackspace’s Cloud Files platform.

Today, hundreds of companies contribute to OpenStack code, with many more playing a part in the broader community.

Canonical is the founding member of the foundation, official maintainer and publisher of OpenStack packages on Ubuntu, leader of the OpenStack Charms project and one of the biggest contributors to OpenStack all the time:

Source: Stackalytics

Who uses OpenStack?

There are

Network function virtualisation

All over the world, service providers use OpenStack as a foundation for network function virtualisation infrastructure (NFVI) implementation.

Read more about NFV ›

Bare metal

Although designed for traditional VMs, OpenStack is fully capable of provisioning bare metal machines on-demand too, turning your data centre into a bare metal cloud.

Why Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack?

Wondering which OpenStack platform to choose? This is why Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack is the answer:

  • Best price-performance guaranteed

    Engineered for the best price-performance, Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack delivers TCO reduction, while maximising the performance of the cloud.

  • Predictable pricing structure

    Fixed-price design & delivery and per-machine support subscription ensures pricing structure transparency and enables predictable budgeting.

  • Full stack enterprise support

    One subscription for all infrastructure components includes phone and ticket support, production-grade service level agreements (SLAs), hardening and compliance programmes.

  • Fully-managed service option

    The most cost-effective approach up to 300 nodes where the cloud is maintained and operated by Canonical’s team of experts 24x7.

  • Total bottom-up automation

    Not just OpenStack, but the entire cloud platform, including bare metal layer, is fully automated for the initial installation as well as post-deployment operations.

  • Every OpenStack version supported

    A new version of OpenStack comes every six months; Canonical provides support for all new versions within two weeks from the upstream release.

  • Clear and fully automated upgrade path

    Users can upgrade between consecutive OpenStack versions in a fully automated way, benefitting from new features brought by the latest release.

  • Interoperability across various platforms

    From hardware vendors to open source communities, Canonical cooperates with various partners to ensure platform interoperability and flexibility.

  • Up to ten years of security updates

    Canonical provides up to ten years of security updates under the Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) programme available for enterprise customers.

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How to install OpenStack

Looking for the most straightforward installation instructions for OpenStacK?

allows you to install a fully functional OpenStack on your workstation in just two commands. The entire process takes around twenty minutes.

Get started with OpenStack today ›

All the pieces you need to start using OpenStack

Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack

Canonical's Charmed OpenStack is a pure upstream OpenStack distribution engineered for the best price-performance with full enterprise support.

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Ubuntu fun88体育

Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution across public clouds, data centres and the edge with a built-in security and compliance for enterprise customers.

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Public cloud costs increasing?

Do not worry! Using multi-cloud architecture allows you to optimise your infrastructure costs. Our team of cloud experts will bootstrap and manage OpenStack private cloud for you.

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