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AWS vs. OpenStack vs. SoftLayer - Which One is the Best?

When a number of cloud computing platforms are available in the market, it is easy to get lost for beginners to understand which platform can be used for what? Aws was launched in 2006 and considered as the most popular computing platforms worldwide. With constant enhancements and innovations over the years, the AWS platform offers multiple cloud services worldwide. The market share of the platform is also growing and businesses witness a tremendous growth by optimum usage of the cloud platform.

The next popular platform is OpenStack which is an IaaS solution, an open source cloud platform used for building private clouds. The OpenStack setup is more complex and it needs to be configured through CLI which assumes knowledge of LINUX and networking concepts. It has a modular architecture with various code name such as - Nova, Neutron, Cinder, Keystone, Glance, Swift etc.

IBM SoftLayer is an expensive choice particularly used to order dedicated beefy servers. You build a server by connecting individual components including CPU, RAM etc. It is very much similar to ordering hardware product from Dell but leased to IBM and stays in their data centers. VPs (Virtual Private Servers) from the public cloud is almost the same thing except you select the RAM or CPU amount directly not branded hardware parts.

AWS vs OpenStack in terms of Popularity

Based on Google Trends Graph below, AWS is still far ahead in popularity. But Companies has started in contributing to OpenStack these days. AWS vs. OpenStack vs. SoftLayer The popularity of AWS application programming interface (API) is growing steadily since its inception in 2006. The first jump was gained by AWS in March 2008 and interest surge again in May 2015. OpenStack has also grown in popularity since its inception in 2010 and got a nice jump in the year 2013. Some of the notable Companies contributed to OpenStack include AT&T, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Ericsson, HP, Google, Hitachi, IBM, Oracle, RedHat, Linux, Yahoo, VMWare etc.

Other than this, AWS is the fifth largest web hosting provider after GoDaddy, Blue Host, Host Gator, then AWS is ranked on number five.

Read: AWS Uncovered: A Simple Introduction for Beginners
  • GoDaddy – 4.26 %
  • Blue Host – 2.56 %
  • HostGator – 2.15 %
  • – 1.91 %
  • AWS – 1.81 %

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Highlights of AWS Services

Let us go a little deep in comparing Aws vs OpenStack in terms of features:

  • Amazon Elastic Beanstalk for quick deployment and cloud app management.
  • Amazon Identity Access Management (IAM) to authenticate various services.
  • Amazon director services for setting up a new and stand-alone AWS directory.
  • Amazon Cloud Watch to monitor application or resources.
  • Amazon Security modules for data regulatory compliance requirements.
  • AWS key management services (KMS) to create or manage encryption keys.
  • Amazon beta for billing or accounting management.
  • Amazon Elastic Transcoder (ETS) for mobile video transcription from S3.
  • Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) to send bulk or transactional email.
  • Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Services) to push notifications in a multi-tenant architecture.
  • Amazon Cognito tools for synchronization and user data management.
  • Amazon machine learning service for building regression models from publicly available datasets.

OpenStack Highlights

OpenStack is not so convincing cloud platform, there are still a number of selling points to consider when planning to opt for OpenStack.

  • WalMart uses OpenStack to coordinate more than one lac cores, it provides 100 percent uptime during Black Friday last year.
  • In Tokyo, Developers gave more than 300 talks at the OpenStack in October.
  • RedHat, SUSE Linux, Debian, Canonical all are active contributors and support OpenStack since the time of its inception.
  • OpenStack has enabled Companies like Bloomberg, Disney to manage their private clouds at very manageable costs like AWS.
  • OpenStack is the only platform that supports mixed hypervisor and bare metal server environments.

It is clear from the discussion that adoption and development in OpenStack are likely to keep pace in the near future. Moving ahead, here are the main components of modular OpenStack architecture.

AWS Quiz

Read: Complete Guide to Cloud & Cloud Computing

A). Compute (Nova) 

  • It is an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service) solution that allows the management and automation of computer resources.
  • It allows bare metal, high-performance computing configurations (HPC), and containerization capabilities.
  • It offers python-based external libraries for concurrent programming, seamless communication, and quick database access.
  • It is designed to scale horizontally on standard with no proprietary software or hardware requirements.

B). Image Service (Glance) 

  • This service is applicable to discover, register, and deliver services for disk or server images.
  • It allows template building with stored images.
  • It facilitates unlimited backups and chances of failure are very less.
  • There is REST interface for querying disk image information.
  • It helps to streamline images with servers.
  • It helps to maintain image metadata.
  • It creates, deletes, and identifies duplicate images.

C). Object Storage (Swift) 

  • It is a scalable redundant storage system
  • It automatically replicates content from failed disks to active nodes.
  • It is suitable for inexpensive servers and commodity hard drives.

D). Dashboard Horizon 

  • It offers a GUI to access and automate cloud-based resources for administrators and users.
  • It allows third-party billing, monitoring, and management tool integration.
  • It offers a customized dashboard with EC2 compatibility.

E). Identity Service (Keystone) 

  • It offers a unified authentication system across the cloud OS.
  • It can be quickly integrated with existing backend directory such as LDAP.
  • The service has various authentication methods like token-based authentication, username/password authentication, and AWS style logins.
  • It offers a single repository of all deployed services with a programmatic determination of access for users and third-party tools.

F). Networking (Neutron)

  • It allows manual or automatic management of networks or IP addresses.
  • There is a flat network or VLAN to separate traffic or servers.
  • It offers management of intrusion detection systems, firewalls, load balancing, or virtual private networks etc.

While OpenStack clearly lacks some of the predefined services when compared to AWS, you need to research carefully and decide yourself which cloud computing platform is just the right choice for you. Both platforms are good in terms to offer corporate profitability and also increased resiliency. However, a list of options is available to you if you choose AWS from Amazon.

SoftLayer Highlights

Historically, dedicated servers allowed you to pick special hardware at very low prices but it is not possible with AWS.

  • IBM SoftLayer has high memory instances with fast storage
  • It gives you a perfect idea of performance to cost ratio.
  • It can be accessed in wide areas and a dedicated cloud service too.

Aws capped around 200 GB of memory and it does not offer fast local storage. In case, you need fast local storage then AWS or OpenStack could not the option for you but you may go with SoftLayer here. This cloud computing platform is dedicated that means the hardware is yours with a well-defined physical presence. It helps to deal with data management and regulations. But these features were not enough to bring users in the favor of SoftLayer.

SoftLayer had strong competitors and it is differentiated because of its unmatched product beefy servers that are available at a very low price. But competition got tough soon and AWS and Google cloud took the SoftLayer market. AWS vs. OpenStack vs. SoftLayer With the release of SoftLayer, AWS also released high memory instance and same is the case with google cloud too. While competitors have more flexible disks already. As a result, AWS, OpenStack, and Google cloud came out in the market more aggressively as compared to the SoftLayer.

Competitors suddenly started providing extra features that were available in SoftLayer at the same prices and it was not good for the SoftLayer. So, businesses always love to buy great products at lower prices and why they would choose SoftLayer in that case. Let us talk about the performance and local storage now.

Read: Everything You Need to Know About AWS Lambda Functions

AWS and OpenStack also offer more memory, local disks, and terabyte storage. Location is not an issue anymore because leading cloud platforms offer services everywhere. If you don’t worry about dedicated server features then SoftLayer is not worth to discuss anymore but AWS certifies more in most cases.

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The discussion makes it clear that AWS is still the leading choice when compared to OpenStack or SoftLayer. AWS has a wide range of features that are enough to satisfy customers and is still growing constantly. I will rank AWS on the top, OpenStack at the second position, and SoftLayer is given the third preference. Most importantly, the choice of cloud computing platform depends on business needs. Start-ups may opt for easy options in the beginning while big enterprises rely more on AWS services.

Read: How to Become an AWS Certified Solution Architect? Shine in AWS Clouds

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    Shubham Singh

    With his detailed research and unique insights into IT and Technological trends, Shubham has been producing high-quality and engaging content that meets the standards of its end-users.


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