In the world of server virtualization, Proxmox and ESXi are two frequently mentioned examples of viable hypervisors. But how does Proxmox, an open-source solution, fare against longtime virtualization giant VMware and its hypervisor ESXi?
How to Pick the Best Hypervisor
For mid-to-large organizations — as well as startups that need scalability — to virtualize or not isn’t an option. The benefits of utilizing hypervisors to partition existing hardware into multiple virtual machines are clear.
Proxmox and VMware ESXi both offer what’s known as Type 1 hypervisors, which run on bare metal rather than through the host’s operating system. Below are a few of the features buyers must consider when evaluating virtualization solutions.
- Performance capabilities like RAM and vCPU capacity, clustering, and backups
- Ease of use and configuration management for administrators
- Availability that ensures business continuity and adequate load balancing
- Cost-effectiveness, given virtualization aims to reduce existing IT expenses
- Scalability to optimize existing hardware and build the virtual environment
Read more: Best Server Virtualization Software for 2021
Proxmox vs ESXi
|Software Type||Open source license||Proprietary license|
|Basis||Debian Linux KVM||VMkernel|
|CPUs (Max)||768 CPUs||768 CPUs|
|Physical Memory (Max)||12TB||16TB|
|Storage and Backup API||Yes||Yes|
|Live Migrations from VMs||Yes||Yes|
|Load Balancing of VMs||Yes||Yes|
|Free Trial||Yes (Unlimited)||Yes (60-days)|
|Pricing||Low to None||Moderate to High|
Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE)
Based on the latest Linux kernels, Proxmox software is compatible with most servers, and complete installation takes 10 minutes. From the Proxmox VE web application’s dashboard, users can manage their virtualized entities across several node clusters. Proxmox VE comes with built-in security, automated backups for select nodes, and enterprise performance capabilities.
As open-source software, Proxmox VE is free to use, share, and modify under a GNU AGPL license, meaning there’s no mystery to the source code. Without licensing getting in the way, this can quicken the onboarding process for organizations.
Proxmox VE Features
- Web-based user interface and CLI for simplified administrator management
- Embedded features like firewalls, storage replication, backups, and more
- High availability (HA) cluster management for handling a multitude of nodes
- Live and online migration capabilities for swift transitions that reduce downtime
- Integration with the Proxmox Backup Server to ensure redundancy
- Available with an open-source license or through a Proxmox enterprise SLA
Pricing for Proxmox VE
As of this writing, Proxmox subscriptions are approximately:
|$975 / year||$488 / year||$325 / year||$104 / year|
Read more on Enterprise Networking Planet: Red Hat Virtualization vs. Proxmox VE
The VMware virtualization suite known as vSphere includes its well-known bare-metal hypervisor, ESXi. The ESXi hypervisor was formerly known as just ESX, abbreviated from Elastic Sky X.
Through vSphere client software, users can download the free or paid version of the ESXi hypervisor. From there, administrators have enterprise-level configurability to optimize virtualized operations. The latest version, vSphere 7, integrates seamlessly with Kubernetes via VMware’s container orchestration platform (Tanzu), and supports up to four network interface cards (NIC) and IP addresses, as well as lifecycle management.
With vCenter, administrators can manage the ESXi hypervisor and the VMs under its control. Administrators can additionally execute load balancing across segments, conduct live migrations, and more. With reusable vCenter server configurations, administrators can automate the import, export, and replication of policies between different clusters.
- Built-in graphic interface available as vSphere CLI or REST-based APIs
- Reduce downtime by suspending VMs to memory and using Quick Boot functionality
- Embedded security features like encryption, role-based access, logging, and auditing
- Robust out-of-the-box optimizations with varying CPU and GPU components
- Compatible with a spectrum of applications, workloads, and configurations
- An extensive ecosystem of product and service partners aligned with VMware
Pricing for ESXi
As a feature of VMware’s vSphere solution, organizations can choose between using the free edition or upgrading to one of their commercial licenses. vSphere bundles break down like the following:
|Essentials||Standard||Essentials Plus||Enterprise Plus|
|$578 / year||$1268 / year||$5,596 / year||$4,305 / year|
The Essentials plan includes base server virtualization and managing including ESXi and vCenter. From there, the Essentials Plus adds vMotion, vSphere Data Protection, and High Availability.
Standard goes above Essentials with infrastructure image management and faster application deployment that includes vShield Endpoint, vSphere Replication, and vMotion. Finally, Enterprise Plus can turn a traditional data center into a modern cloud infrastructure, with data-at-rest encryption, flexible IT services. The enterprise plan adds endpoint, replication, vSphere Trust Authority, and VM encryption.
Read more: KVM vs VMware Hypervisor Comparison 2021
Proxmox Server Solutions launched in Vienna, Austria, in 2005 to offer open-source software to help organizations establish and maintain business continuity. Proxmox does so through three core technologies: Proxmox VE for virtualization, Proxmox Backup Server for backup and restorations, and Proxmox Mail Gateway for email security.
Founded in 1998, VMware is the longtime market leader in virtualization technology and the first to commercially virtualize the x86 architecture. Twenty-plus years later, the Dell vendor continues to develop software for cloud and computing, application modernization, and networking solutions while partnering with 30,000 partners globally.
Read more on Enterprise Networking Planet: Best Server Virtualization Software 2021
How to Decide on Proxmox vs ESXi
While Proxmox and ESXi get mentioned together, their hypervisors serve different organizations, system purposes, and objectives.
VMware’s vSphere has a long list of license options to meet a global audience’s needs. That said, the plethora of license types means more subscription and logistical management than with Proxmox. As an open-source vendor, Proxmox empowers organizations that want more in-house control of their virtualization efforts or capabilities without the hefty cost.
VMware’s ESXi offers advanced features, an extensive network, and enterprise resources at a high price tag; if moving quickly and not breaking the bank are the objectives, Proxmox is a considerable solution.