In the years ahead, the web hosting industry will continue to see a transformation of the industry as companies continue to move into targeted ecosystems in order to continue to compete in their selective markets.  As many of you already know, Canadian Web Hosting is a technology leader in Canada and as such has made the decision to deploy a web hosting cloud environment built on the OpenStack Cloud Operating System.  There are many aspects to consider in making a strategic move and transforming our web hosting services into a highly reliable, repeatable and massively scalable Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution for our Canadian and non-Canadian clients looking to benefit from Canada’s amazing regulatory environment.


Why Build a Canadian Cloud with OpenStack

As a provider, Canadian Web Hosting has a long-history of delivering a full-spectrum of web hosting services including shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, and virtual private servers, as well as deep integration of virtualization platforms Xen, VMware and Hyper-V.  With the OpenStack cloud, we are giving our customers to utilize a service that a complete infrastructure solution that offers compute, storage and networking as a service (with many features below) that do not require any type of vendor lock in. More importantly, with our experience support business clients over the years we make it very easy to transform your legacy IT environment into a modern cloud environment that integrates these technologies.   Many of our customers now moving are also bringing over the their existing AWS workloads and have realized that Canadian Cloud Hosting powered by OpenStack offers many of the same features as well as deep integration of many leading technology providers making integration of legacy systems a much easier process.  With AWS, everything is proprietary and runs on AWS’s own software.  In saying this, let’s take a high level view and compare AWS and OpenStack.

OpenStack vs. AWS Services comparison

To make things easy, I’ve compared with OpenStack components with similar components of AWS. Please note that this is not a straight comparison as services for both are changing quickly and with the release of OpenStack Grizzly in the last couple of months about 230 new features were just added.  For example, with NoDB integration, we have eliminated the dependency of a database in OpenStack and will no longer take down the cloud.   All these components are available as services.


Components OpenStack AWS (closest match)
Virtual Server Management Nova EC2
Image Management Image Service (Glance) AMI catalog
Object Store Swift S3
Block Store Cinder EBS
Network Management Quantum VPC
Identity Keystone Amazon IAM
Management Console/ Dashboard Horizon AWS Console


Based on the above, I have provided a brief breakdown of each of the services to provide a better understanding of each component within the cloud operating system.


This is the oldest component of OpenStack, responsible for Virtual Machine management operations and is the primary software that controls the compute platform and is similar to Amazon EC2.  It does not include any virtualization software, but rather defines the drivers that interact with underlying virtualization mechanisms that run the host operating systems and exposes functionality over a web-based API.  Some of the unique feature of this component is that it supports multiple hypervisors like Libvirt for KVM, XenAPI for XenServer and so on.

Image Service (formerly Glance)

This is responsible for managing Virtual Machine Images (AMI in AWS jargon).   The image service provides discovery, registration and delivery services for virtual disk images including registering new virtual disk images, quering for information on publically available disk images and use of Image Service’s client library for streaming of virtual disk images.   Some of the formats available include:

  • RAW
  • AMI (kernel/ramdisk outside of image)
  • VHD (Hyper-V)
  • VDI (VirtualBox)
  • Qcow2 (Qemu/KVM)
  • VMDK (VMware)


Swift is the Object store – essentially a repository to store and retrieve lots of data in virtual containers.


Keystone is the Identity service that provides identity, token, catalog and policy services for use specifically by projects in the OpenStack platform including implementation of OpenStacks Identity API.  This also includes enabling key tenets like tenancy, roles, users, projects and tokens or in other words it is the mechanism that is responsible for determining who gets access to cloud resource and at what level.


This is the user/ admin dashboard which can be used to manage the resources that constitute the OpenStack cloud including services for Nova, Swift, Keystone, etc.


Cinder is responsible for providing block storage. This is actually a service component of nova-volume (part of Nova) and supports volume creation and volume snapshots.


Delivers “networking as a service” between interfae devices (vNICs) managed by other OpenStack services like Nova


If any of you would like to work with Canadian Web Hosting and help contribute to OpenStack, just email us at or follow us @cawebhosting.