Amazon Web Services EC2 compared to OpenStack

Public vs Private, Amazon Web Services EC2 compared to OpenStack®

How to choose a cloud platform and when to use both

The public vs private cloud debate is a path well trodden. While technologies and offerings abound, there is still confusion among organizations as to which platform is suited for their agile needs. One of the key benefits to a cloud platform is the ability to spin up compute, networking and storage quickly when users request these resources and similarly decommission when no longer required. Among public cloud providers, Amazon has a market share ahead of Google, Microsoft and others. Among private cloud providers, OpenStack® presents a viable alternative to Microsoft or VMware.

This article compares Amazon Web Services EC2 and OpenStack® as follows:

  • What technical features do the two platforms provide?
  • How do the business characteristics of the two platforms compare?
  • How do the costs compare?
  • How to decide which platform to use and how to use both
  • OpenStack® and Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 defined

From “OpenStack software controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, managed through a dashboard or via the OpenStack API. OpenStack works with popular enterprise and open source technologies making it ideal for heterogeneous infrastructure.”

From AWS “Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers..”

Technical comparison of OpenStack® and AWS EC2

The tables below name and briefly describe the feature in OpenStack® and AWS.


Why you need it?
To run an application you need a server with CPU, memory and storage, with or without pre-installed operating systems and applications.

OpenStack AWS
Definition Instance Instance/VM
Compute is virtual machines/servers
Sizes Flavors: Variety of sizes: micro, small, medium, large etc. Variety of sizes: micro, small, medium, large etc.
How much memory and CPU and temporary (ephemeral) storage is assigned to the instances/VM.
Operating systems offered Whatever operating systems the cloud administrators host on the OpenStack cloud. (Red Hat certifiesMicrosoft Windows, RHEL and SUSE) AMIs provided by the AWS marketplace.
What operating systems does the cloud offer to end-users
Templates/images Glance (AMI) Amazon Machine Image
A base configuration of a virtual machine, from which other virtual machines can be created. OpenStack administrators upload images and create catalogs for users. AWS provides anonline marketplace of pre-defined images.
Catalogs of virtual machine images can be created from which users can select a virtual machine. Users can upload their own images. Users can upload their own images.