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Orka vs. Anka: 4 Main Differences You Should Know In 2024

Wondering which macOS virtualization is best for your app development team? Continue reading to learn about the main differences between the two solutions as we compare Orka vs. Anka.


So, you’re ready to scale your iOS builds. Or maybe you’ve already scaled and now realize your old tools aren’t working as well as they used to. If you’re considering how virtualization (or a new virtualization solution) might improve your CI/CD, you’ve come to the right page. 

Two solutions to consider are Orka and Anka, both solutions help you create and orchestrate (or manage) macOS VMs in the cloud. In this blog, we’ll cover the main differences between Orka vs. Anka to help you make an informed and painless decision on which solution to choose for macOS virtualization. 

What is Orka? 

Orka is a macOS virtualization solution with cluster management deployed in a highly available Kubernetes environment created by MacStadium. Orka provides on-demand macOS environments to power everything from simple Xcode builds to fully integrated, complex automated CI/CD pipelines. See what’s new in the newly released Orka 3.0. 

What is Anka?

Anka is software for creating and managing macOS VMs by Veertu. Users can create macOS VMs and orchestration for CI on Intel and Apple Silicon Macs. 

The main differences between Orka vs. Anka 

While Orka and Anka both have similarities, there are quite a few differences that could make or break your CI/CD workflow. Here are the biggest differences between Orka vs. Anka:

Main differences between Orka vs. Anka

1. Kubernetes native and integration with your ecosystem 


Over the past few years, DevOps and SRE teams have come to know that Kubernetes is the gold standard for orchestration of compute resources. One big question to ask yourself – Do you want a macOS virtualization solution that is K8s native? 

Orka was developed to run within the widely adopted Kubernetes platform. Check out Orka’s most recent update with K8s

Orka has the ability to leverage both the power of Kubernetes, as well as integrate into existing heterogeneous cluster environments. This simplifies the ongoing management and operational costs for customers. They can use the open-source plugins to instantly connect or build a custom integration with the RESTful API, allowing for lightning-fast response times. Because Orka is K8s native, users don’t have to learn a new, complex tool to build or test their app, they can use Kubectl for a seamless experience. 

On the other hand, Anka is not Kubernetes native. While Anka does use Docker containers, it is not able to leverage K8s to scale reliably. Anka relies on their own custom methods for operational management and integration to a non-Apple Mac cluster. They use a proprietary software called Anka Controller, a “central dashboard for management of Anka Build Nodes.”  

Image Format 

When it comes to selecting a macOS virtualization solution, both Orka and Anka are built on top of Apple’s Hypervisor.Framework. Where they differ, however, is with images. 

Orka uses Open Container Initiative (OCI)-compliant, thin-provisioned images that can launch in seconds. With Orka, users can easily access OCI-compliant images for ultra-fast setup. Instead of waiting 10+ minutes for a system startup, Orka can make it happen within 1-2 minutes. Now with Orka 3.0, we also leverage compression technology, at rest, in transit, and while running. As a result, VM deployment time is decreased by up to 80% and storage requirements are reduced by up to 50%. 

Anka uses ‘suspended VM templates’ to decrease start-up time. Anka’s image storage works slightly differently as well. It allows users to create multiple diffs from a single base image, rather than treating each image as independent. This can save time in creating different versions during the initial setup, but unchecked changes to the base image may cause unintended consequences for all the diffs.  

2. Ease of Use 

You need a straightforward and reliable way to manage and debug VMs throughout your automated (perhaps, manual) processes.  

Orka’s comand-line driven platform allows customers to easily configure VMs with the automation-friendly CLI. Orka dynamically provisions VMs and pools resources to create true macOS development workflow automation. Orka seamlessly integrates with your favorite CI tools, like Jenkins, GitHub Actions, and Packer to name a few. 

“It was super easy to integrate Orka with Jenkins. With only a few lines of code, we could run jobs.” - The Glovo Team. Check out the full Glovo case study to learn about their transition to Orka. 

MacStadium also makes it easy to host your machine in a data center across the globe. MacStadium relieves dev teams from maintaining in-house infrastructure, saving them headaches and valuable build time. Don’t just take our word for it. Read the Thumbtack case study and learn how they implemented a macOS virtualization solution and cut build times in half.

Orka quote from Thumbtack

Anka has CI/CD integrations similar to Orka. However, Anka images are not interoperable due to its proprietary system. (In other words, you need to recreate all your images in the Anka formatting to get started.) Spinning up a VM once you have created your images happens through Anka Controller using their CLI or GUI. 

3. Performance, Scalability, and Reliability 

When you’re spinning up a VM, you want optimal performance and speed. That’s a no-brainer. But if you’re in a rapidly growing business, you will need a macOS virtualization solution that scales with you. 

Orka is a great example of a reliable platform that can grow with your team. Orka easily scales to accommodate hundreds of nodes in a single environment. (We’ve seen up to 500 nodes in a single cluster.) Orka is deployed into a highly available topology in a K8s system, allowing our control plane and API endpoint to be highly available. With Orka, you can create multiple environments in different data centers around the world to meet the needs of your dev team. 

Anka “Leverages native macOS resource scheduling and power management for faster performance in guest macOS VMs.” The controller is a custom Linux VM running their custom software. We suspect some of the scaling and growth considerations are left to the user on sizing that VM, its resources, and its network correctly. We're working to benchmark the scaling capabilities of multiple virtualization and orchestration solutions. Stay tuned! 

4. Vendor Maturity, Security, and Support 

If you’re in the market for a quality macOS virtualization platform, chances are you’re looking for a solution that meets key security requirements and has top-notch support. 

MacStadium is certified to the highest level of cloud security and data privacy. We meet or exceed the requirements of even the most demanding teams, including CapitalOne, Delta, and several other Fortune 50 customers. Single Sign On (SSO) and Orka user groups provide the access controls you need. Custom firewalls and networking, combined with SOC 1, 2, and 3, and other advanced certifications, exceed enterprise-level standards. In terms of the customer experience, MacStadium provides dedicated expert support and account management to enterprise customers who need Tier 1 support from critical vendors. MacStadium has a strong relationship with Apple. MacStadium’s partnership with Apple is well-established and has been featured in WWDC keynotes throughout the years. TL;DR – MacStadium is a stable, long-standing partner for your macOS virtualization needs. 

With Anka, if you come across an issue, you can get support via email or a community Slack site. Anka has a small team of under 10 individuals, so their attention is likely split between countless tasks. If your business relies on your iOS (or macOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and visionOS), it’s risky to build your development pipeline around a solution without the proper support. That said, Anka does support SSO as well as encryption of build and test VMs at-rest and in-transit. 

Why MacStadium’s Orka is the best choice for macOS virtualization 

When comparing Orka vs. Anka, it’s critical to consider one last point – Do you want to grow or stay stagnant? Orka gives you the opportunity to scale, while Anka allows you to build comfortably, but will eventually start to degrade as you progress.  

Don’t put your business at risk – Choose MacStadium and future-proof your company with Orka. 

Not convinced? Try creating a few VMs using our free Orka Toolkit or request a demo from an Orka expert


February 28, 2024

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