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What is Proxmox VE – and Why You Should Live Patch It

Rohan Timalsina

May 3, 2024 - TuxCare expert team

  • Proxmox VE, like any software, is vulnerable to security threats. Patching helps address these vulnerabilities, protecting your virtual machines from attacks.
  • Traditional patching methods often require taking systems offline, leading to downtime and disruptions for critical business operations.
  • TuxCare’s live patching ensures your Proxmox instances stay secure with the latest security fixes without needing to reboot or take your virtual machines down.

Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE) is an open-source platform for virtualization that allows you to manage virtual machines (VMs) and containers on a single physical server. It integrates two popular virtualization technologies: KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) for full virtualization and LXC (Linux Containers) for lightweight container-based virtualization. Its built-in web interface makes it easy to manage your VMs and containers.

In this guide, we will explore more about Proxmox VE and what it is used for. We will also explain why patching Proxmox is important – and why live patching can save the day.


The History of Proxmox Virtual Environment


Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE)’s creation was initiated by two Linux developers, Dietmar Maurer and Martin Maurer, who discovered that OpenVZ lacked a backup tool and a management GUI. Proxmox Virtual Environment was first released on April 15, 2008, and its initial public release was declared as version 0.9. 

Right from the start, Proxmox VE enabled its users to manage KVM and OpenVZ through a web-based management interface. In the years that followed, it has undergone eight major releases and numerous minor updates. 

For example, in March 2012, Proxmox 2.0 was launched with high availability based on Red Hat Cluster, Proxmox 3.0 was introduced with VM templates and cloning, and Proxmox 8.0 introduced a new Ceph Enterprise repository. The version we’re currently on is Proxmox 8.1.


What Is Proxmox VE Used For?


Like other virtualization platforms, Proxmox can help with a range of different tasks. It is suitable for various virtualization needs, ranging from small-scale virtualization for development and testing environments to large-scale production deployments in data centers. Some common use cases include research and educational institutions, government organizations, web hosting providers, and large enterprises.

Proxmox is used for a variety of purposes:

Virtualization: Proxmox is primarily used for virtualization, and it can be used to create and manage multiple virtual machines on a single host server. You can consolidate physical infrastructure into virtual machines to save on costs, improve server utilization, and increase flexibility in managing server workloads. 

High availability: With Proxmox VE, you can configure high availability (HA) for VMs and containers, so if one physical host server fails, the workload is automatically moved to another host server. Proxmox HA creates a cluster of multiple physical servers (nodes), at least 3 required for reliable operation. If a node fails, it automatically migrates the affected virtual machines to other healthy nodes within the cluster, ensuring minimal downtime. This use case is ideal for companies or organizations that require high uptime and reliability for critical workloads. 

Containerization: Containers are lightweight forms of virtualization. They share the host system’s kernel while maintaining separate user spaces and utilize resources more efficiently than traditional virtual machines. With support for Linux Containers (LXC), Proxmox provides an efficient way to run multiple isolated Linux systems (containers) on a single host. 

Backup and Disaster Recovery: Another use case is to create and manage backups of VMs and containers – whether full or incremental backups. Proxmox VE also provides tools for disaster recovery, such as restoring from backups, migrating virtual machines to other hosts, or replicating virtual machines to a secondary data center. 

Storage Management: Proxmox has built-in support for various storage options, such as local storage, networked storage (NFS, iSCSI, etc.), and distributed storage solutions like Ceph. This flexibility allows users to configure storage to suit their specific requirements.

Networking: Proxmox offers networking features such as virtual LANs (VLANs), bridged networking, and firewall configuration, allowing users to create complex network topologies for their virtual environments.


Which Tools Are Similar to Proxmox


Virtualization tools are a broad category. There are plenty of open-source solutions, including Proxmox and KVM, while commercial vendors, like Microsoft and VMWare, also deliver tools that are popular for enterprises:

VMware vSphere: VMware vSphere is one of the most popular enterprise virtualization platforms on the market. It includes advanced features like live migration, high availability, and distributed resource management. However, it is a proprietary solution that comes with a high cost.  

Microsoft Hyper-V: Similar to VMware vSphere, it requires Windows Server to run, including live migration, high availability, and clustering. Hyper-V is a good alternative for those who prefer to use Microsoft technologies, but it may not be as feature-rich as VMware. It is also expensive. 

Xen: Xen is an open-source hypervisor that is often used in cloud environments. It provides strong isolation between virtual machines and supports a wide range of guest operating systems. Xen can be used as a standalone virtualization solution or integrated with other cloud platforms, such as OpenStack.

OpenStack: OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing platform that includes components for managing computer, storage, and networking resources. While more complex to set up and manage compared to Proxmox, OpenStack offers extensive scalability and flexibility.

The respective pros and cons of each of these virtualization solutions are beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that Proxmox VE is an open-source virtualization solution that’s sufficiently rich in features to be the preferred choice above vSphere or Hyper-V.


Patching Proxmox Virtual Environment


You need to keep your Proxmox VE instances up to date for all the usual reasons because virtualization platforms are vulnerable to security threats – just like any other software. Attackers always search for weaknesses to exploit, and these weaknesses are often patched by software updates. Proxmox patches include security fixes that address known vulnerabilities, which can help protect your virtual machines from attacks.

Besides, by installing patches, you can ensure that your virtualization platform is stable and running smoothly, and patches may also include bug fixes. Furthermore, many industries have compliance regulations that require software to be kept up to date with the latest security patches. This means that failing to update Proxmox could put your organization at risk of violating these regulations.

 That said – patching Proxmox can be tricky. On large technology estates, it can take a lot of time to consistently apply the latest updates. Traditional patching often requires a reboot, causing downtime for the virtual machines running on Proxmox. This can be disruptive, especially for critical business operations. Arranging for the required downtime, or mitigating the loss in performance, can be a logistical challenge.


Simplify and Modernize Your Proxmox Patching


TuxCare is planning to support automated live patching on Proxmox 8 in summer 2024. Unlike traditional patching methods that require downtime and disruption to critical systems, TuxCare’s live patching solution allows for real-time updates to be applied without any interruption to operations. 

This means that businesses can keep their virtualized workloads secure and up to date without sacrificing performance or productivity. Live patching ensures your virtualized workloads keep running seamlessly throughout the patching process, and there’s no downtime to worry about. This also minimizes the window of vulnerability, reducing the likelihood of data breaches and other security incidents. 

Live patching is a powerful tool that empowers organizations to keep their infrastructure running smoothly and securely with minimal disruption or downtime.

Proxmox VE can help enterprises modernize and centralize their IT infrastructure, turning it into a flexible and cost-effective software-defined data center. This open-source project helps you deploy agile, efficient, and simplified IT infrastructure.

Nonetheless, you need to patch it too and it is so much easier with live patching. Read more about TuxCare’s enterprise live patching for Proxmox and other Linux distributions here.

What is Proxmox VE – and Why You Should Live Patch It
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What is Proxmox VE – and Why You Should Live Patch It
Let´s talk about Proxmox VE and who uses it. We will also explain why patching Proxmox is important – and why live patching can save the day.
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