Breaking Free: Exploring Top VMware Alternatives

In light of the recent licensing changes and Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware, affected customers are increasingly seeking alternatives. The transition from perpetual licenses to subscription models has significantly impacted customers, introducing ongoing costs and reducing flexibility in licensing arrangements (read more about it in our last post).

This change has left thousands of customers frustrated and constrained, as they are now locked into recurring payments without the option to maintain their previous perpetual licenses. Furthermore, Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware has raised concerns about the direction and priorities of the company under new ownership, leading customers to question the future of VMware’s product offerings and support.

As a result, customers are exploring alternative virtualization and cloud computing solutions that offer more favorable pricing structures, greater flexibility, and more transparency for future development. Open source tools are a great option in order to avoid vendor lock-in and proprietary licensing constraints.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into some of the top alternatives to VMware, including Kubernetes, OpenStack, Proxmox, and Apache CloudStack, highlighting their key features, benefits, and use cases.

What are alternatives to VMware?

Kubernetes (K8s) + KubeVirt

As you might have heard, Kubernetes is the platform for deploying and managing cloud-native applications. It is a container orchestration system that allows developers and admins to define the desired state of an application, and the platform will automatically handle the deployment and scaling of the application. Virtual Machines, on the other hand, are designed to run not only containers but entire operating systems and applications.

Kubernetes is commonly used on top of VMware and cloud platforms to manage containerized applications, since it is not capable of running VMs natively. However, running VMs on K8s became possible with the appearance of projects such as KubeVirt, which uses libvirt with KVM hypervisor under the hood to spawn and manage VMs. This means that by default, out of the box, Kubernetes cannot be a direct replacement for VMware. However, Kubernetes has a very rich ecosystem being a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) where tens of open source projects can be leveraged to extend Kubernetes functionality.

Some of these projects include Rook and OpenEBS for storage and Cilium for networking. Rook can be used to deploy and manage Ceph on K8s easily. It turns the well-known distributed storage solution into self-managing, self-scaling, self-healing service delivered with Kubernetes. OpenEBS is another cloud native storage solution that provides containers with easy access to storage across the entire K8s cluster. Cilium provides networking, security, and observability for cloud native environments such as Kubernetes through a CNI plugin. As of now CNCF hosts more than a hundred open source tools and projects with at least a half being focused on Kubernetes, making it possible to tweak, extend and apply Kubernetes for a wide range of applications and scenarios.


Both VMware and OpenStack can be used to host traditional and cloud-native workloads offering management via a self-service portal. And both platforms leverage virtualization and containerization technologies to provide infrastructure management and deployment.


You can find most of VMware’s infrastructure components and features in OpenStack itself and its underlying technologies for compute, network and storage virtualisation. This includes Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), Open Virtual Network (OVN) and Ceph, putting Openstack among the best alternatives to VMware, since it is capable of replacing most of VMware functionalities.


The adoption of OpenStack has been steadily growing since its first release in 2010. Companies like Openstack for its flexibility and its solid ability to support bare metal, container technologies, and VMs at the same time. Furthermore, it is open source and vendor-agnostic and runs under an Apache Licence, which will shield you against vendor lock-in or unpredicted licensing costs.


While some of the Openstack subprojects might have lost their traction it still has a very strong core set of services and a broad community of contributors and supporters. There are also quite a few companies that integrate Openstack and offer paid support. Companies that use Openstack today include Wikipedia, Ericsson, Intel, Yahoo, Huawei and hundreds of others.

Proxmox Virtual Environment (Proxmox VE)

Proxmox VE is an open-source virtualization platform that combines KVM virtualization, LXC containers, and software-defined storage and networking. It is a great alternative for small-scale clusters.

Proxmox offers a web-based management interface and supports features such as live migration, high availability, and backup/restore. It offers integrated Ceph and backup solutions out-of-the-box, requiring no license to begin.

Proxmox includes all features by default, and can be used to build and monitor VMs with LXC and KVM instances. It can also be used to monitor the storage with software-defined storage.

Proxmox is another open-source software that helps to avoid vendor lock-in. Although Proxmox might not be the best fit for large-scale enterprise environments, its vibrant community and reliability make it great to be for small scale environments.

Apache CloudStack

Apache CloudStack is another open-source cloud computing platform that provides Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions. It can be a compelling alternative to VMware for virtualization and cloud management for organizations seeking a flexible and open-source cloud computing platform.

While Cloudstack seems to be similar to Openstack in many ways, it has never reached the popularity of the latter. Nevertheless, it is capable of managing VMware vSphere infrastructure along with other hypervisors such as KVM. This feature might come in handy for migrating from VMware ESXi to KVM.

Like Openstack, Apache Cloudstack offers multi-tenancy, self-service provisioning, and integration with third-party vendors and technologies.Β 


As more organizations continue to explore alternatives to VMware, they are increasingly turning to open source solutions based on OpenStack, Proxmox, and Apache CloudStack. Whether driven by cost considerations, flexibility requirements, or the desire for vendor-neutral solutions, these alternatives offer compelling features, benefits, and use cases for modern virtualization and cloud computing environments.

Embracing these alternative open source projects, organizations can be protected from corporate greed and vendor lock-in and at the same time achieve high grades of agility, scalability, and efficiency in their IT infrastructures.

Overall, OpenStack comes out as the best IaaS replacement for VMware today due to its similarity in features, multi-tenancy, strong network isolation capabilities, scalability, vendor neutrality and an active community driven by hundreds of contributors world-wide. By adopting OpenStack as a replacement for VMware, organizations can achieve massive cost savings in their cloud infrastructure deployments.

At Cloudification we have a team of experts in open-source solutions including both OpenStack and Kubernetes. Transitioning to OpenStack will empower you to reclaim control over your infrastructure and software expenses, liberating you from the limitations imposed by VMware. If you’re grappling with the implications of new VMware pricing models and looking for a chance, reach out to us today.