Comparing hypervisors: LXD, IBM PowerVM, Proxmox and Red Hat OpenShift as alternatives to VMWare ESXi

Virtualization is a vital tool in the IT world, enabling companies to optimize their hardware resources and improve the efficiency and management of their systems. VMware ESXi has been an undisputed leader in this space, but with its purchase by Broadcom and the very important changes in pricing, and above all, the elimination of its free version, thousands of customers are evaluating the existing alternatives.

Here is our small contribution, as IBM PowerVM experts but also enthusiasts of the other KVM-based options. All of them (except VMWare) work in our labs and depending on the projects we choose one or the other for our customers. If you would like us to discuss it in detail
please contact us without obligation.

While it is difficult to provide a comprehensive comparison with all ESXi features, as they vary between versions and specific combinations with other VMware tools, the following table provides a summary of what we consider to be the most important ESXi features and how they are supported in LXD, PowerVM, Proxmox and Red Hat OpenShift. We hope you find it useful.

Feature LXD VMware ESXi PowerVM Proxmox Red Hat OpenShift (OCP)*
Type of software Open source. Owner Proprietary (IBM specific) Open source (KVM and container-based) Proprietary (based on Kubernetes and containers)
It is based on KVM. Just as OCP supports containers and also VMs. VMkernel Based on IBM technology inherited from Mainframe environments, with advanced processor micro-partitioning technologies and HW isolation of VMs. KVM and LXC KVM (for virtual machines *if installed in bare-metal mode and not on top of other hypervisors) and Kubernetes for containers
Web UI Yes Yes, but limited. vSphere is required for many functionalities. Yes HMC (equivalent to vSphere) or PowerVC (based on OpenStack) Yes Yes
Clustering Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (through Kubernetes)
High Availability Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (with advanced Kubernetes features)
VM live migration Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (via Kubernetes and OpenShift Virtualization)
Shared storage Ceph vSAN Supports various file systems and storage Ceph, ZFS and others GlusterFS, Ceph and others
Networking Bridge, OVN NSX Compatible with almost all network technologies Bridge, VLAN, VXLAN and others SDN, OVN and others
Snapshots Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Backup Yes Yes Yes (with IBM and third-party management tools) Yes Yes
Free trial N/A (unlimited free use) 30 days Not applicable (included free with IBM hardware) N/A (unlimited free use) Free trial available
Cost Free of charge, with enterprise support available per physical host Full functionality requires a paid license. Included with IBM Power hardware Free of charge, with enterprise support by subscription Core-based underwriting; varies by environment.
Number of yarns Limited to 2 threads per core (x86) Limited to 2 threads per core (x86) Up to 1,920 threads (Power10 E1080) Limited to 2 threads per core (x86) Limited to 2 threads per core (x86)
Type of hypervisor Level 1 (over KVM) Level 1 Level 0 (separate VMs at firmware level with CPU mapping) Level 1 (KVM) and Level 2 (LXC) Level 2 (on RHEL)
Technology maturity (years) > 10 years > 20 years > 30 years (coming from Z environments / LPARs) > 10 years > 10 years
Maximum RAM capacity per VM Up to 2TB Up to 2 TB Up to 32 TB Up to 2TB Up to 2TB
SiXe Ingeniería
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