This post gives a survey of available open source cloud service provisioning command line tools. We talk about provisioning full services and not individual pieces of cloud infrastructure, and we take the angle that command line tools come before any pretty management and monitoring application because the latter should be provisioned by the same tools as your services.

Note: This is a work in progress and this post will be augmented as time goes. Your comments are welcome as we have certainly overlooked some projects.


Services is our units of deployment. They are building blocks that carry out well defined tasks. Several services can be put together to participate in a business process. Services are independently deployed following their own release schedule. When necessary, services can be grouped and deployed together.

Service is where we deliver value and therefore service must be a first class concept in any provisioning tools.


Here are our initial criteria:

  • we should be able to provision a multi node service on the cloud executing one command line,
  • the tool must be compatible with Amazon Web Services (AWS), OpenStack and VMWare,
  • the configuration must be file based and not buried in a database,
  • it must be an active open source project.

Native Service Provisioning

Here are the tools that natively include the concept of service in their data model:

Surprisingly, very few open source provisioning projects have a first class service concept in their data model.

Node Provisioning

The following tools can be used to provision services but do not have a native concept of service in their data model. However, their configuration semantic is rich enough to express it with some naming conventions:

  • Puppet: we can start VMs, install puppet and execute puppet code to either create a puppet server and one or more clients, or configure nodes without a central puppet server. The concept of service can be added using a service property and using puppet environment to isolate different services from each other.
  • Chef: Using knife plugins to start a node on different IaaS and a mix of knife-server to bootstrap a chef server, and knife boostrap to start and configure clients.
  • Pallet a clojure command line tool build on top of the jclouds library.
  • Salt Stack see OpenCredo post about it.
  • CFEngine.
  • Ansible.

Related Tools

This section lists some related tools worth mentioning.

Infrastructure Management


Here are the libraries underlying most of the provisioning tools described above:


We have given the current list of open source cloud service provisioning command line tools. We have insisted on having a first class service concept because services deliver the value. We have found that very few open source tools have it.

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