Saturday, February 27, 2010

Virtualization with VMWare Workstation

**This post is for those who are interested in virtualization – mostly for IT professionals.

VMWare is the top dog in enterprise virtualization solutions, specifically server virtualization software, and will be for quite a while. Sure Citrix and Microsoft have solutions too but only VMWare has all 100 of the Forbes 100 companies using their solutions. That MUST say something good about VMWare :)

Anyways, if you are an IT professional, you must have experience working with a slew of different software and hardware solutions that the top 500 corporations use. With that, I have been training on how to install or use or configure VMWare ESX server. The problem is, I have ZERO hardware that will work with it and I don’t have Bill Gates’s credit card handy. So what am I to do? Use virtualization!

Windows Virtual PC (VPC) won’t work. VPC will only work with Microsoft products. VPC is a very basic virtual app. Plus, VPC is a little messy. All virtual machines must run in their own open Window. While this is ok if I only need to run one or two virtual machines at the same time, having more windows open than two clutters up my desktop and sometimes I lose track of what I am working on or what virtual machine I need to use. I can install Windows Server and Windows Vista or 7 just fine, but what about a Vyatta virtual router appliance, or Ubuntu Linux, or even VMWare ESX server? You can’t. But VMWare Workstation 7 can!

There is a TON of features in VMWare Workstation that kick even the Hyper-V MMC console out of the water. Here are a few things that I have noticed right off the bat:

Integration with the Superbar in Windows 7 and with Aero Peek.

Tabbed view for multiple running VM instances and a ‘favorites sidebar’.

Easy to use Virtual Network Editor (this is something that Microsoft is still failing to provide for the interface in Windows Virtual PC and the Hyper-V console for Windows Server 2008). The great thing with this is that you can make AS MANY virtual networks as you want, further assisting you if you want to create a bunch of different ‘test labs’ with their own private network.

Above all, you can install and run a virtual instance of VMWare ESX 4.0 inside of VMWare Workstation 7 allowing you to train without buying thousands of dollars of hardware!

Of course, in order to run 64 bit hosts you need to be running a 64 bit operating system. Good thing that I have Win7 x64 with 8gb of RAM :)

Go here for info on getting a free trial of VMWare Workstation 7 or to purchase a license.