Hi oVirt community.

I did a short series for tweets @jospanier judging my first time user experience with several virtualization platforms and was asked by Sandro Bonazzola to elaborate a bit further than what fits into 140 chars.

I had a specific use case: The small-ish learning lab with only 2-3 nodes and it needs to be free. I also wanted live migration to stay flexible with my hosts.

I currently use my lab for to run ~10 virtual CSR1000V routers on free ESXi in addition to some real router hardware. I want to expand the lab to be able to explore some other technologies as well like network automation, SDN, infrastructure as code and the likes.

The lineup for the PoC was oVirt, ESXi, Openstack and Proxmox VE.

I my tweets I was referring to a) the install procedure and b) the operational experience.

Here is what I found. These findings are highly subjective and debatable. I am aware of that.

Both ESXi and Proxmox VE is trivial to install. You grab the ISO image, use a tool like Rufus to make an bootable USB stick or use iLO virtual CD functionality and off you go. Both installers do not ask many questions and just do their job. After installation ESXi is all ready to run. Just open the WebGui and start deploying your first node. With Proxmox VE you get a TUI wizard guiding you though the last steps. After that the WebGui is ready and you can deploy your first VM immediately.

I found oVirt a bit more involved to install. You have to install the Engine on one node and then register the other hosts with it. While that process is easy to handle it is a bit more work. A big thing for me was that at first glance there did no seem to be a "single node" install. My fist impression was that I needed a minimum of two servers. Of course later I learned about the Hosted Engine and the All-In-One install.

Do not get me wrong. First time oVirt installation is still easy to handle on a quiet afternoon.

Openstack installation compared to that is a PITA nightmare. I tried both RDO (TripleO) and Fuel for setup but gave up after two days for both, confused about what I actually need to do for a start. Got some nodes running with Fuel but was not satisfied. I then followed the Openstack manual Install Guide. I have a day job, so it took me about 5 days to get through the whole procedure, but a least I understood what was going on and what I needed to do.

So that was my "first day" experience with those.
Now for the "second day" i.e. operation.

ESXi and Proxmox VE are both very simple to understand. You usually do not need a manual to find you way around. Deploying a VM is a breeze. oVirt is pretty simple to understand too. But you have to wrap your head around the Data Center principle underpinning everything. Its just a bit more complicated. On one or two occasions while playing around it was unclear at first why my datacenter was offline and I had to consult the manual for that. One can immediately feel that multi-tenancy is a big benefit of oVirt that is not so obvious in ESXi and Proxmox. But it comes with the price of added complexity.

The new WebGui in the ESXi 6.5 I used is sloooow but some functions are not available with the vSphere Client Tool any more. Proxmox and oVirt WebGui are very responsive and "feel" way better. The Openstack WebGui is also quite nice.

If you want to build a private multi-teneant scale-out cloud OpenStack is probably your best horse in the stable. But for my purpose it was just overkill. The process of deploying a simple VM was the most work from all four tools.

For the specific use-case (see above) Proxmox VE was the best fit for me, closely followed by oVirt due to the more involved installation. ESXi comes in lagging in third place as it does not offer live migration in the free version and due to the poor WebGui experience I got. Also you have to pay big bucks to get the same functionality as in the other three. Openstack is placed at a distant fourth place for this use case.

Hope that was interesting. Do reach out to me on twitter if you have any further questions or suggestions.

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