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Kubernetes vs OpenStack

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Both Kubernetes and OpenStack are open source tools that help orchestrate and automate IT functions separately from the underlying hardware. Both platforms enable the automated deployment and maintenance of applications, but they do so in different ways.

OpenStack is an open source infrastructure platform that uses pooled virtual resources to build and manage private and public clouds. Kubernetes (also known as k8s or “kube”), a more recent technology than OpenStack, is primarily a container orchestration platform, and is used to manage containerized applications.

The approach that works best for your use case will depend on your specific environment and what you’re trying to achieve. Additionally, it is likely that you will want to consider running both technologies simultaneously.

Containerization refers to the process of packaging software code, libraries, frameworks, and other necessities for running an application in a single, isolated space on a server called a Linux container.

The lightweight nature of containers—and their shared operating system (OS)—makes them very easy to move across multiple environments: bare metal, public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds, and multiclouds.

Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that allows for single components within an application to be updated without affecting the rest of the technology stack, thus providing minimal disruptions and potential cost reductions. The lightweight nature of Linux containers provides agility and speed. Best of all, most of the work around deploying, testing, backing up and scaling these containers can be automated. You tell Kubernetes where you want your software to run, and the platform takes care of almost everything required to deploy and manage your containers.

Containers are best for building cloud-native apps, package microservices, and to instill DevOps or CI/CD practices. The caveat is that containers have to be compatible with the underlying OS.

Virtualization is a process that allows for a more efficient use of physical computer hardware and is the foundation of cloud computing. In virtualization, resources such as storage, CPU, and RAM are abstracted from a variety of vendor-specific programs and split by a hypervisor before being distributed as needed. 

Virtual machines (VMs) contain their own OS, allowing them to perform multiple resource-intensive functions at once. The increased resources available to VMs allow them to abstract, split, duplicate, and emulate entire servers, OSs, desktops, databases, and networks.

OpenStack is a community open source project that forms the basis of the Red Hat® OpenStack® Platform. As a cloud operating system, OpenStack virtualizes resources from industry-standard hardware, organizes those resources into clouds, and allows users to manage those resources from a dashboard while maintaining scalability and security. 


The most important asset for the future of your business is your IT strategy. It’s your primary means to deliver new customer experiences, enter new markets, and adapt to changing conditions. With the dominance of Kubernetes, and the thriving ecosystem around the technology, organizations are moving their workloads to Kubernetes at a rapid pace. However, this might not be the right move for everyone. 

Ultimately, virtualization and containerization may both have a place in your IT strategy. 

After all, Red Hat® OpenShift®–a unified application platform formed by a Kubernetes foundation–can be deployed on top of Red Hat OpenStack Platform, allowing you to evolve your infrastructure from VMs to containers at your own pace.

As the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, we have a long history of working on and building alongside open source community projects. Red Hat is the second largest contributor to Kubernetes codebases and is also a top contributor to OpenStack.

Whether you're building new applications or modernizing existing ones, OpenShift supports the most demanding workloads including AI/ML, edge, and more. Automate deployment and life-cycle management with our vast ecosystem of technology partners.

Thousands of organizations trust and rely on Red Hat’s software solutions and consulting services for future proofing their applications and IT infrastructure. With a comprehensive portfolio of products and services for hybrid cloud computing, Red Hat can help organizations migrate and evolve aging applications and workloads applications onto agile, cloud-native architectures ensuring they can respond to ever-changing business climates for years to come.


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