Z-Wave. IP bridge or controller (not USB)

I am running OpenHAB2 on VMware and controlling things exclusively via IP. (Hue v2, Sonos, TV , AMP)
I want to add some Z-Wave devices, but not via USB as this takes away some virtualization benefits. Presentation is via HomeKit to iOS devices with openHAB2 doing some of the more complex rules.

As far as i can tell my options are a bridge like the POPP http://store.zwaveeurope.com/product_info.php?products_id=12990 or a fully fledged controller like a Fibaro home centre http://store.zwaveeurope.com/product_info.php?products_id=12497
I like the idea of keeping it modular so that there are multiple interfaces and each component is independent and fungible if required.

Is anyone using either of the these approaches or can offer any advice. on approach or specific products that are compatible with openHAB2

Maybe you can use a USB dongle on an RPI and then connect to it remotely

A lot cheaper than a Fibaro Home Center

Have not tried this myself, but might be an option to investigate.

There is also the z-way binding, which might work remotely (have not tried this either)

The idea is to run the z-way software on the host where you have the USB (Make sure you buy one with a z-way license)

Regards, S

This is a very interesting suggestion and I’ve spent some time looking into it.
As all my physical servers are ESX only i don’t have a USB source server. I looked at dedicated hardware for USB over IP, but this we more expensive than a Z-Wave controller.

So i think what i still want is a Z-wave controller, that could be self sufficient, but also allows for programmatic/API control from openHAB. i.e. a loosely coupled system

Presentation and control is all being pushed up via homekit.

One of the possibilities is raspberry pi plus a z-way daughterboard, as now there are z-way binding available.
the z-way software stack can communicate with openhab via binding over network, and do all the heavylifting of z-wave controlling. the cost for this solution is approx 80-90 eur

Personally I use vera edge controller to do the same thing, using mios binding from openhab. But Vera edge controller costs a bit more, like 130 euro more or less.

Both of those sound ideal. Thank you.
However I was running out of time and ordered a Aeon labs Z stick gen5.
Openhab on Unbuntu 16.04 is able to see it through VMware esx 6.0. ( in case that helps anyone else)

Can you give some more specifics on how this is setup? Is the Z-stick connected to a Pi (what OS?) remotely and Openbab on you ESXi is able to see it without any additional drivers on each?