CloudStack Review

User-friendly, scalable, and easy API use


What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for two things; the first is the handling of all of our virtual machines through centralization, and the second is the orchestration of services.

How has it helped my organization?

This is one of the major products that help to handle all of the NFV Infrastructure management services (IaaS). It has helped us to quickly gain understanding and feel more powerful with respect to virtualization.

What is most valuable?

The three features that I find most valuable are:

  • It is user-friendly.
  • It is scalable.
  • The ease of API use. When you compare it with OpenStack, CloudStack is something that you can deploy faster on because you have fewer components and more services. You can use a single API to get things done, rather than multiple APIs on multiple modules.

What needs improvement?

One area that needs improvement is the stability. It is stable, but there are issues. It is related to the lack of support for an open source product. It comes down to needing more active people in the product's open source user community.

There are release notes with the product, but I would like to see more documentation. For example, it would be nice to have instructions on how to integrate with DPDK (Data plane developer kit) because it would make it much easier.

I would like to see support for native VLAN, and fault-tolerance.

For how long have I used the solution?

Approximately five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is problematic, in part, because there is no support. It is an open source product, so similar to OpenStack there is community involvement. One challenge, however, is that it is a small community of users compared to OpenStack. There are professional services available by multiple vendors, so you can leverage that if you wish to.

It becomes an issue when there are new problems and you do not have support for them to be fixed. Otherwise, the product is good. If it is working fine then it will continue to work until something changes.

If you are stuck with a problem then it may take between a couple of days and a couple of months to solve it. It may require research, but it is challenging because you do not have a major community of people.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I would say that the product scalability is good. It is very scalable, but it requires some additional effort from the user's side, or the administrator's side, to understand the product well before making changes to the environment. Research has to be done, and a POC may be required.

For example, it is possible to integrate this solution with Ceph Storage or load balancers, and it will handle it, but you have to do some research first. Similarly, if you want to integrate it with a public DNS or an internal DNS, you will have to test it well before integrating it.

We currently have fifteen users, but it is a system administration tool so there is not much customer-centric traffic. This is actually one of the major benefits that you have. Even with fifteen people, doing the same thing or otherwise, it allows you to have your own space without overriding the other person. It allows you to be multi-tenant.

They have zone features that allow you to keep your local environment, so if you want to deploy multiple cloud stacks, you do not need to. You can keep just one cloud stack and integrate with all of the servers at once. This is in contrast to OpenStack, where you have to deploy one OpenStack per region or per area so that all of your computers can be centrally managed.

Our usage will increase as we add more servers, or expand our services.

How are customer service and technical support?

There is no technical support available because it is an open source, community-based product. However, certain people can still provide you with technical support. This technical assistance is a paid service, separate from the community itself. It is a group of experts and I would say that they are good enough. If you don't feel comfortable using the product, or there are stability issues that you frequently see, you can buy professional services.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

This product has been in use since I joined the company.

How was the initial setup?

It is simple to perform the initial setup. Compared to OpenStack, it is really straightforward and simple. The deployment will take a couple of hours.

You will need at least two or three people to maintain the solution. It is a complex environment, even though it has a very simple GUI. The back-end system, such as the database or the application itself, definitely requires at least four to five good people who are able to handle issues in the CloudStack environment.

This is less maintenance than is required for other solutions, but expertise is still needed.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation in-house.

What was our ROI?

The ROI is there. While there is no cost to the product, there is an infrastructure cost. ROI is realized in time savings, and in community-based products, the major investment is your time. 

If you integrate with other products you can do fault tolerance, too.

The bottom line is that the ROI is there provided you invest your time in it. If you do then you will be well paid for it, because the product will help you to easily grow your environment, and make it scale faster.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There is no license, so the product is free unless you are buying professional technical support services. You need to pay for your infrastructure and hosting charges, but those are the only fees that you are required to bear.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are presently evaluating OpenStack.

CloudStack is faster than OpenStack. The OpenStack solution takes years and years to build your services, whereas CloudStack allows for much faster deployment.

I do not think that we are switching to OpenStack because it is a more complex product.

Another option would be Kubernetes with Mirantis or any other product suite, but we have not evaluated this.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody interested in implementing this product is to do the POC, and don't just go blindly with it. You need to see what the pitfalls are and whether your team can handle it, or not. If they cannot handle it then you should look at other cloud products, such as those that have more support in the community. 

On the other hand, if you are looking for something small, scalable, and easy to deploy, then this is a good solution.

I would rate this product a seven and a half out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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