DevOps 101 - Introduction to Virtualization - Part 4

Introduction to Virtualization: The Ultimate Guide to Proxmox

Virtualization has revolutionized the world of computing by enabling the creation and management of multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical server. It allows for efficient resource utilization, increased flexibility, and improved scalability in IT infrastructure. Proxmox is a powerful open-source virtualization platform that combines the best of virtualization and container technologies, providing a comprehensive solution for managing virtualized environments. In this ultimate guide, we will explore the concept of virtualization, and its benefits, and delve into the features and functionalities of Proxmox.

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the process of creating a virtual representation of a physical computing resource, such as a server, operating system, storage device, or network. It allows multiple virtual machines (VMs) to run simultaneously on a single physical server, each with its own isolated environment. The virtualization layer, called a hypervisor, abstracts the underlying hardware and enables the allocation of computing resources to VMs based on their requirements.

Type 1 vs Type 2 Hypervisor
Type 1 vs Type 2 Hypervisor

Benefits of Virtualization

Virtualization offers numerous benefits to organizations, including:

  • Server Consolidation: By running multiple VMs on a single physical server, organizations can consolidate their infrastructure, reducing hardware costs, power consumption, and data center space.
  • Resource Optimization: Virtualization allows for dynamic allocation of computing resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage, based on workload demands. This ensures efficient utilization and better performance.
  • Flexibility and Scalability: Virtual machines can be easily provisioned, cloned, or migrated across physical servers, providing flexibility and scalability to adapt to changing business needs.
  • Isolation and Security: Each virtual machine operates in its own isolated environment, preventing conflicts between applications and enhancing security by isolating potential vulnerabilities.
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Virtual machine snapshots and backups enable quick recovery in case of hardware failure or disasters, ensuring minimal downtime and faster business continuity.
  • Testing and Development: Virtualization facilitates the creation of test environments and sandboxed development environments, allowing for easy experimentation and software testing.

Introduction to Proxmox

Proxmox Virtual Environment (PVE) is an open-source virtualization platform that combines hypervisor-based virtualization (KVM) and container-based virtualization (LXC) in a single solution. It is built on top of Debian Linux and provides a comprehensive set of tools and features for managing virtualized environments.

Proxmox VE Dashboard

Key Features of Proxmox

Proxmox offers a wide range of features, including:

  • Full Virtualization: Proxmox supports full virtualization using the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), allowing the execution of multiple guest operating systems on the same physical server.
  • Container Virtualization: Proxmox leverages Linux Containers (LXC) to provide lightweight and efficient virtualization for applications, enabling rapid deployment and better resource utilization.
  • High Availability (HA): Proxmox HA ensures high availability of virtual machines by automatically migrating them to healthy physical servers in case of hardware failures, minimizing downtime.
  • Live Migration: Proxmox allows for live migration of virtual machines between physical hosts without any service interruption, enabling workload balancing and hardware maintenance without downtime.
  • Storage Management: Proxmox supports various storage types, including local storage, networked storage (NFS, iSCSI), and distributed storage (Ceph), providing flexibility in managing storage resources.
  • Networking: Proxmox offers advanced networking capabilities, such as virtual LANs (VLANs), software-defined networking (SDN), and integration with Open vSwitch, enabling efficient network management.
  • Backup and Restore: Proxmox includes built-in backup and restores functionality, allowing for scheduled backups, incremental backups, and restoration of VMs or containers.
  • Monitoring and Statistics: Proxmox provides real-time monitoring and performance statistics for virtual machines and hosts, helping administrators track resource usage and identify performance bottlenecks.
  • Web-based Management Interface: Proxmox offers a user-friendly web-based management interface, making it easy to configure, monitor, and manage virtual machines and containers.

Proxmox Editions

Proxmax can be downloaded in 3 editions – Proxmox VE, Proxmox Mail Gateway, Proxmox Backup Server. Here is a comparison between them:

Proxmox VE

Proxmox VE is a free and open-source virtualization platform that allows you to run multiple operating systems on a single physical server. It is a powerful tool that can be used to create virtual machines, containers, and storage pools. Proxmox VE is also a good choice for disaster recovery, as it allows you to create backups of your virtual machines and containers.

Proxmox Mail Gateway

Proxmox Mail Gateway is a full-featured, open-source mail proxy that can be used to protect your mail server from spam, viruses, trojans, and phishing emails. It is deployed between the firewall and your internal mail server, where it analyzes and filters incoming as well as outgoing email traffic. Proxmox Mail Gateway is a good choice for organizations that need to protect their email from malicious content.

Proxmox Backup Server

Proxmox Backup Server is a dedicated backup solution that can be used to backup your Proxmox VE virtual machines and containers. It supports incremental, fully deduplicated backups, which can significantly reduce network load and save valuable storage space. Proxmox Backup Server also supports encryption and methods of ensuring data integrity, so you can feel safe when backing up your data.

Proxmox Installers
Proxmox Installers
Proxmox VE vs Proxmox Mail Gateway vs Proxmox Backup Server

The following table compares the three products:

FeatureProxmox VEProxmox Mail GatewayProxmox Backup Server
Mail filteringNoYesNo
Incremental backupsYesYesYes
Data integrityNoNoYes

Proxmox VE is a good choice for organizations that need a powerful virtualization platform. Proxmox Mail Gateway is a good choice for organizations that need to protect their email from malicious content. Proxmox Backup Server is a good choice for organizations that need a dedicated backup solution for their Proxmox VE virtual machines and containers.

Installing Proxmox VE

To install Proxmox VE, you can download the ISO image from the project website and copy it to a USB flash drive or CD/DVD. Then, you need to boot your system with the USB or CD/DVD and select Install Proxmox VE. You also need to agree with the terms, select the target hard disk, and choose the filesystem. Alternatively, you can install Proxmox with apt command on Debian or Ubuntu systems.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install Proxmox VE:

  1. Download Proxmox ISO Image.
  2. Prepare Installation Medium.
  3. Launch the Installer.
  4. Select Language.
  5. Accept License Agreement.
  6. Select Target Hard Disk.
  7. Choose Filesystem.
  8. Set Root Password.
  9. Confirm Installation.
Proxmox VE Download Site
Proxmox VE Download Site
Proxmox VE Installer Grub Menus
Proxmox VE Installer Grub Menus
Proxmox VE Installer Final Step
Proxmox VE Installer Final Step

Proxmox Architecture

  • Proxmox Node: The physical server running Proxmox, which hosts virtual machines and containers.
  • Proxmox VE: The management layer that includes the web-based user interface, REST API, and command-line interface (CLI) for managing the Proxmox environment.
  • Hypervisor: Proxmox supports the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) as the default hypervisor for full virtualization. It provides hardware-level virtualization and runs guest operating systems.
  • Linux Containers (LXC): Proxmox leverages LXC to provide lightweight container virtualization, enabling efficient resource utilization and rapid application deployment.
  • Storage Subsystem: Proxmox supports various storage options, including local storage, networked storage (NFS, iSCSI), and distributed storage (Ceph), providing flexibility in storage management.
  • Proxmox Virtual Environment (PVE): Proxmox VE is the main management interface of Proxmox, accessible through a web browser. It offers a rich set of features for creating, configuring, and managing virtual machines and containers. Administrators can perform tasks such as creating VMs, defining resource allocation, configuring networks, taking backups, and monitoring performance through the PVE interface.
  • Proxmox Container Virtualization: Proxmox utilizes Linux Containers (LXC) for lightweight and efficient container virtualization. Containers provide an isolated environment for applications to run, while sharing the host operating system kernel. Proxmox supports the creation and management of LXC containers through the PVE interface, allowing for rapid deployment and scalability of applications.
  • Proxmox Storage Management: Proxmox offers flexible storage management options. It supports local storage, where virtual machine images are stored directly on the Proxmox node’s local disks. Networked storage options like NFS and iSCSI enable centralized storage for multiple Proxmox nodes, allowing VMs to be migrated across different hosts. Additionally, Proxmox integrates with Ceph, a distributed storage system, providing fault tolerance, scalability, and high-performance storage for virtual machines and containers.
  • High Availability and Load Balancing: Proxmox High Availability (HA) ensures that virtual machines remain operational even in the event of a physical server failure. HA utilizes a shared storage system and heartbeat mechanism to monitor the health of each physical node. If a node fails, the virtual machines hosted on that node are automatically migrated to healthy nodes, maintaining continuous availability. Proxmox also supports load balancing, distributing VMs across multiple physical nodes based on resource utilization.
  • Proxmox Networking: Proxmox provides comprehensive networking capabilities for virtualized environments. Administrators can configure virtual networks, define VLANs, and implement software-defined networking (SDN) using Open vSwitch integration. Proxmox supports various network modes, including bridged mode, NAT mode, and routed mode, enabling flexible network configurations for VMs and containers.
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery: Proxmox includes built-in backup and disaster recovery features. Administrators can schedule backups of VMs and containers, including incremental backups, to a designated storage location. In case of hardware failure or data loss, the backups can be restored to quickly recover the virtual machines or containers, ensuring minimal downtime and data integrity.
  • Proxmox Cluster: Proxmox allows the creation of a cluster by connecting multiple Proxmox nodes together. Cluster configuration enables centralized management, shared storage, high availability, and load balancing across the nodes. Administrators can manage the entire cluster through a single interface, simplifying resource management and enhancing scalability.
  • Proxmox GUI and Command Line Interface (CLI): Proxmox offers a user-friendly web-based management interface for day-to-day administration tasks. The interface provides a graphical representation of the virtualized environment, allowing administrators to easily configure, monitor, and manage VMs, containers, networking, storage, and other resources. Additionally, Proxmox provides a powerful command-line interface (CLI) for advanced administration, scripting, and automation tasks.
Proxmox Architecture
Proxmox Architecture

Proxmox Subscription and Support

While Proxmox is open-source software, the Proxmox company offers subscription plans that provide additional benefits and support options. Subscribers gain access to enterprise features, such as distributed storage (Ceph) management, plugin support, and priority support for troubleshooting and assistance.

CommunityFreeAccess to the community repository, community support forums, and documentationNo technical support
Standard$149/yearAccess to the enterprise repository, regular software updates, and guaranteed first response time on critical support requestsEmail-based support tickets, support forum
Premium$499/yearAll of the features of the Standard plan, plus 24/7 support, priority support tickets, and dedicated account manager24/7 support, priority support tickets, dedicated account manager

Proxmox vs. Other Virtualization Platforms

Proxmox competes with other virtualization platforms, such as VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer. While each platform has its strengths, Proxmox distinguishes itself by offering a comprehensive open-source solution that combines both full virtualization (KVM) and container virtualization (LXC) within a single management interface. Proxmox’s flexible storage options, networking capabilities, high availability features, and extensive community support make it a popular choice for organizations seeking cost-effective virtualization solutions.

FeatureProxmoxVMware vSphereMicrosoft Hyper-VCitrix XenServer
PricingFree and open-sourcePaid, with a free trialPaid, with a free trialPaid, with a free trial
FeaturesRich feature set, including support for containers, clustering, and high availabilityComprehensive feature set, including support for vMotion, DRS, and HABasic feature set, including support for clustering and HABasic feature set, including support for clustering and HA
Ease of useEasy to use and manageMore complex to use and manageEasy to use and manageEasy to use and manage
SupportGood community supportExcellent support from VMwareGood support from MicrosoftGood support from Citrix
Best forSmall businesses, home labs, and educationLarge enterprises and service providersSmall businesses and medium enterprisesSmall businesses and medium enterprises


Virtualization has transformed the IT landscape, enabling organizations to optimize resource utilization, enhance scalability, and improve overall operational efficiency. Proxmox, with its robust feature set and user-friendly interface, provides a powerful virtualization platform that integrates full virtualization and container virtualization, offering organizations a flexible and comprehensive solution for managing their virtualized environments. By harnessing the power of Proxmox, businesses can maximize the benefits of virtualization and streamline their IT infrastructure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *