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Proxmox Virtual Environment: Product Overview and Insight

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted February 28, 2019


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Bottom line:

Proxmox may not be familiar to many outside of central Europe. But it is gaining traction due to its smart combination of open-source KVM-based virtualization, software defined storage and containers.

Potential buyers need to decide: are we focusing on open source virtualization? If so, Proxmox is a suitable choice, for the company is focused in this area. As such, it is suitable for enterprise buyers or SMB on a budget, as long as that SMB has some open source experts in-house.

Product Description:

Proxmox VE is an open-source platform for enterprise virtualization that integrates KVM hypervisor and LXC containers on a single platform. This enables users to virtualize Linux and Windows application workloads. With a centralized built-in web interface, users can run VMs and containers, manage software-defined storage and networking, clusters, high availability, and other out-of-the-box tools like backup/restore, live migration, storage replication, or the built-in Proxmox firewall.

Proxmox VE can be used on a single node, or on a cluster. It enables dynamic scaling of computing and storage resources. Multiple storage options are integrated (Ceph RBD/CephFS, GlusterFS, ZFS, LVM, iSCSI) so no additional storage boxes are necessary. A backup tool, firewall, and flexible networking are built in. Proxmox VE runs on enterprise servers or commodity hardware. If a CPU supports virtualization, like any Intel VT/AMD-V capable CPU/mainboard, hardware requirements are met and Proxmox VE can be deployed.

The open-source project Proxmox VE has a worldwide user base with over 230,000 installations. The web-based management interface is translated into 20 languages. More than 40,000 members are active in the community support forum. Over 13,000 customers from companies regardless of size, sector or industry rely on the Proxmox VE support services offered by Proxmox Server Solutions.

“We can control, store, and backup data directly or in the cloud via remote control. Compared to other commercial products, which mostly rely on separate and dedicated hardware for SAN, NAS, and hypervisor, the key combination of our selected Supermicro equipment and Proxmox architecture resulted in a competitive and efficient setup,” said the IT Architect at a scientific research center.

Servers/Operating Systems:

As Proxmox VE supports KVM and LXC, any x86/amd64 server for virtualization or any Linux server in para-virtualization (LXC) are addressed. This includes Windows, Linux, Linux variants, Solaris, FreeBSD, OSx86 (as FreeBSD), virtual appliances, Netware, OS/2, SCO, BeOS, Haiku, and Darwin.

Implementation:

Proxmox VE is easy to implement. Users download a free ISO installer at the Proxmox site, burn it to USB or disk, and start the bare-metal installer. Alternatively, install it on top of a working Debian platform.

Scalability:

As all components are software-defined and compatible, it is possible to administrate all like a single system via the centralized web management interface. Expansion of compute, network and storage devices (i.e. scale up servers and storage quickly and independently from each other) is easily possible within Proxmox VE. Up to 32 nodes per cluster are supported.

Overhead:

Approximately 5% to 10%.

Management:

Proxmox VE includes a centralized web-based management interface which enables users to create and deploy virtual machines and Linux containers, and to manage the whole cluster from any node of the cluster. The web GUI allows control of all functionality, overview history and syslogs of each node, run backup/restore jobs, live migration or HA tasks. Also, you can manage all Proxmox VE components from the command line interface. A RESTful API enables fast integration for third party management tools such as custom hosting environments.

In addition:

  • Proxmox VE supports Cloud-Init, a multi-distribution package that handles initial setup of a virtual machine as it boots for the first time and allows provisioning of VMs that have been deployed based on a template. Users can configure host names, add SSH keys, set up mount points or run post-install scripts via the graphical user interface.
  • It enables automation tools like for example Ansible, Puppet, Chef, Salt, and others to access pre-installed disk images and copy a new server from that.
  • All performance data can send to an external metric server like Graphite or influxdb. Syslogs can be send to a centralized syslog server.
  • Cluster-wide stats on Guests running, nodes online, CPU, memory, storage
  • Node-wide stats: disk IO, CPU, Memory, network, server load, storage usage
  • Health monitoring: Ceph health, cluster health, storage health, backup status, HA status

Patching/Backup:

As Proxmox VE is open-source, patching the software is possible at any time. A standard Proxmox VE installation uses the default repositories from Debian, so you get bug fixes and security updates through that channel. In addition, Proxmox provides a package repository to roll out all Proxmox VE related packages. This includes updates to some Debian packages when necessary. Updating is easily possible via the web-based management interface; in-place updates come with major versions.

Further, it provides an integrated backup/restore solution for guest data and guest configuration. The backup uses the capabilities of each storage and each guest system type. The full backups contain the configuration of the VMs, containers, and all data. The backups can be started via the web interface or via the vzdump command line tool. It also creates snapshots of running containers and KVM guests.

Migration:

Live migration in Proxmox VE can be done with one click in the web interface without any downtime. The migration traffic is encrypted by default but it can be set to unencrypted.

“I recommend Proxmox for those IT professionals who want to increase the availability of their servers, to reduce the administration complexity and also to make the most of their IT budget,” said the IT Manager of an investment firm.

Security:

Intra-cluster communication is authenticated and encrypted.

The built-in Proxmox Firewall allows you to filter network packets on any VM or container interface. You can setup firewall rules for all hosts inside a cluster, or define rules for virtual machines and containers. Common sets of firewall rules can be grouped into security groups. There is full isolation between virtual machines. The firewall has support for IPv4 and IPv6.

Key Markets:

Customers are predominantly those in government, education and the enterprise that gravitate toward open source tools.

Companies tend to choose Proxmox VE if they want to:

  • Build hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) with Ceph Storage cluster
  • Modernize their data center, transform it to software-defined data center using open source tools.
  • ROBO (use of replication, HA clustering)
  • Cloud computing

"We use a Proxmox VE cluster for our business-critical systems running at our six global locations. It helps us to gain efficient resource utilization combined with high availability and security for our diverse system and service landscape. With the professional Proxmox support service we even have more security for our production systems,” said the IT Director at an audio production firm.

Cost:

Proxmox VE comes licensed under the AGPL, v3. For production environments, enterprise support is available from Proxmox Server Solutions. A support subscription covers access to the stable enterprise repository (extensively tested packages), updates via GUI, and technical support (directly from the Proxmox team). The entry level for a subscription starts at €74.90 per CPU for a community subscription.

Product

Proxmox VE

Platforms

x86/AMD64

Scalability

Up to 32 nodes per cluster

Overhead %

5 to 10

Markets

Hyperconverged infrastructure, Ceph Storage cluster, software-defined data center, cloud computing.

Cost

€74.90 per CPU

Migration

 One click Web interface

Key Differentiator

Lower cost for Linux environments

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