Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

Summary: Find out what's better than KVM or OpenVZ. It's Proxmox. And, it combines both technologies into the ultimate hypervisor.

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Proxmox is perhaps virtualization's best kept secret and the big boys probably want to keep it that way. If you've gone in search of the ultimate hypervisor but keep coming up short, allow me to introduce you to Proxmox. Why can I make such a bold statement about a product you've never heard of? It's easy, I've used it. Proxmox brings you the best of two very different worlds: KVM full virtualization and container virtualization a la OpenVZ.

Say what? That's right, full virtualization and container virtualization on the same host system. What's better than that? Well, it gets better, so relax and let me tell you all about it.

Proxmox employs kernel virtual machine (KVM) virtualization to support just about any operating system that you can download and install into a fully virtualized collection of hardware. And, yes, this is the same KVM that Red Hat, Inc. owns and uses as its enterprise-level virtualization solution. And, yes, correct again, it is the same KVM that the Open Virtualization Alliance is built around. So, you are familiar with it then?

Proxmox also supports container-style virtualization, which you'll often hear referred to as jails or maybe even zones. The container virtualization bits are owned and supported by OpenVZ, which is owned and supported by Parallels. If you stick around long enough, you'll hear me sing praises about Parallels and their awesome technology.

You might still be saying, "So what?"

But, you wouldn't understand the implications of this technology, if you did.

Here's the scoop: By mixing the two virtualization types, you can install more than twice as many VMs per host as you can using full virtualization alone. Some techs report three or four times the density per host.

Here's how it works.

Full virtualization is your standard, familiar, full virtualization via XenServer, VMware ESX and, of course, KVM. KVM is so powerful, fast and efficient because it uses the SPICE protocol.

Container virtualization works by partitioning about parts of the host's filesystem and isolates in such a way that the containerized virtual machine "thinks" it's a host running on physical hardware. Containers behave exactly like fully virtualized systems do. Each container has its own passwd file, its own IP address, its own everything including a chrooted filesystem. You can reboot a container, you can power down a container and you can install software into a container.

The only limitation is that the container relies on the centrally running Linux kernel for its brain. This means that your containers must be capable of running the Linux kernel. In other words, you can't run Windows in a container. Or, can you?

You can't with Proxmox.

But, you can with Parallel's enterprise product. This is a topic for another post but just let me whet your appetite on this. You can run Windows containerized, just as you would a Linux, BSD or Solaris system.

Exciting, isn't it?

Now that you're panting over that epiphany, let's return to Proxmox. I told there was more to the story than Proxmox being the ultimate hypervisor and there is.

Proxmox is free. No charge. Go ahead, take one and don't pay for it. Use a hundred of them and owe absolutely nothing.

What else?

You manage Proxmox with a web browser, instead of some proprietary, "it only works on Windows" application. Web browser.

Plus the Proxmox team has setup Proxmox so that it's easy to download pre-made container images that go from hyperlinks to VMs in minutes.

But, now you've come to the reality that this is another free product that isn't supported by anyone except a bunch of loosely connected developers and community members. Another rogue product that someone cooked up in his basement between Red Bulls and bouts of WoW. Wrong. You can purchase support contracts for it. The Proxmox folks have also created the Proxmox Mail Gateway, a commercially supported product.

So, now you have no excuses. Go download it, install it and experience for yourself, the ultimate hypervisor.

See Also:

Topics: Hardware, CXO, Cloud, Storage, Virtualization

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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17 comments
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  • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

    The virtualization battle field is getting very exciting. More and more are coming out to fight the battle.
    Proxmox welcome to the battle.
    daikon
    • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

      @daikon

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    • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

      Nice review!
      NinaGuzman
      • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

        This is such a good article. I specially love this part "But, now you???ve come to the reality that this is another free product that isn???t supported by anyone except a bunch of loosely connected developers and community members. Another rogue product that someone cooked up in his basement between Red Bulls and bouts of WoW. Wrong. You can purchase support contracts for it." more power....

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  • Ok. So how's the datacenter support?

    What are the equivalents for vMotion, Storage VMotion, distributed switching, DRS, etc.? Hypervisors are free everywhere. The good stuff costs.
    People
    • Excellent point

      @People The easiest thing to do is to virtualize. The hard thing to do is manage it effectively. Very few hypervisor competitors challenge Xen and VMWare in the enterprise because only Xen and VMWare think about what happens after you provision your guest.
      Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

      @People

      Proxmox has live migration, backup, restore, etc. Some of the features that VMware and Xen have aren't requirements but nice-to-haves. Amazon uses Xen (the free one) and somehow they've managed quite well to succeed.
      khess
      • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

        I haven't tried Proxmox before so I had to read this <a href="http://www.superiorpapers.com/custom_essay.php">essay</a> along with several other reviews for reference. Thanks for all the comments, very helpful!
        NinaGuzman
    • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

      @People ProxMox VE is not yet feature-for-feature equivalent to vSphere but its feature set is sufficient for many smaller deployments, and it is rapidly gaining on the big boys. It already has clustering with shared storage and live migration, it already has a central console for all of your compute nodes, it already has thin provisioning for several types of storage.

      ProxMox 2.0's roadmap shows that they are building the underpinnings for the equivalents of HA and DRS to show up within the next year or so.

      Is it a feature-for-feature vSphere equivalent? No. Is it close enough to be a replacement in many deployments? Yes. Does the fact that it is free and open source give it an additional edge? Absolutely.

      VMware has an excellent line of products. They're going to have to fight hard to avoid being commoditized out of existence, though. If they are smart they will position themselves as a management/monitoring software company.
      acancro
    • vmotion

      from what I understand KVM has supported live migration for at least as long as vmware's vmotion. vmware is expensive and cost doesn't necessarily relate to unique or better capability
      bmullan
  • Debian Lenny forced, no thanks.

    Why does it only exist as an ISO with Debian Lenny? I've used CentOS (Redhat) for over a decade and don't intend to start using a new distro just for an application.
    peterpallesen
    • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

      @peterpallesen

      You can create your own proxmox-type server. Install KVM and OpenVZ.
      khess
    • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

      @peterpallesen It isn't a stock Lenny build. The kernel that ships with ProxMox VE is highly tuned and optimized for the task of running a dedicated virtualization host. Trust me on this, I'm a decade-long CentOS afficionado in a datacenter environment as well. The choice of Debian as the underpinnings for ProxMox VE is about as relevant as VMware's choice of something RedHat-ish for the ESX service console. You don't spend a lot of time in there.

      I spent a lot of time looking for a good way to deploy KVM in our data center. ProxMox VE is the best. We also evaluated CentOS with virt-manager (which works but is quite lacking in features) as well as OpenStack (byzantine, overly complex, and half baked). ProxMox VE was the only KVM based platform that really showed that it could be just as maintainable as our VMware deployment.
      acancro
  • ProxMox VE is even better than this review says

    I've deployed ProxMox VE in a production data center environment. This review misses a lot of important things. One is that you can deploy a whole cluster of them, and it's REALLY easy to do that. Once you're clustered you can do shared storage with live migration, centralized management, etc. The web UI is also quite good.

    It's about time the trade press started noticing ProxMox VE. This is *the* *best* way to deploy KVM and OpenVZ technologies in a data center, especially if you don't want to shell out the megabucks for vSphere.
    acancro
  • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

    Still you ned hardware that supports it, can be expensive ! What abaut Baremetal VirtualBox/Mokafive/Parallels hypervisor/that goes on all hardware including virtualizing Win but is not free except VB !!! Im using iCore on P3 with 1 GB RAM 1.7 GHz overclocked and its works on click no delay's at all but this isn't the same as it virtualize everything from win kernel up - it's OS level virtualization ! On 32 bit hardware you do not have decent hypervisor for free !
    hantor@...
  • RE: Proxmox: The Ultimate Hypervisor

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  • openvz vs lxc

    I think most folks are looking at LXC instead of openvz today as LXC is built into the linux kernel now and probably the future direction for container technology in linux. I've heard ProxMox was looking to implement LXC but I'm not sure they have done so yet.
    bmullan