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VMware Workstation 8 reaches for the cloud

Sep 14, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

VMware announced a new version of its Linux-compatible VMware Workstation 8 software, designed to make it easier to build, share, and upload virtual machines (VMs) to cloud environments. VMware Workstation 8 offers 50 new features, with a special focus on connections with VMware's cloud-oriented virtualization software, including new remote connections and drag and drop to hosts running in vSphere.

Long compatible with Linux and Windows desktops, VMware Workstation lets users set up multiple virtual machines on a single computer. For years, Workstation has been the undisputed leader in desktop virtualization, but it's been feeling the pressure from up-and-coming Oracle VirtualBox, which offers the advantage of being more affordable and offering a free personal-use version.

In July, VirtualBox was rev'd to version 4.1, adding an easier way to clone virtual machines (VMs), as well providing as a memory limit increase to 1TB for 64-bit hosts. Other 4.1 enhancements included guest support for Windows Aero, a new UDP networking tunnel for interconnecting VMs, and support for SATA hard disk hotplugging.

VMware Workstation 8 running VMware Micro Cloud Foundry
(Click to enlarge)

The growing competition, which also includes hypervisors from Parallels and others, has inspired VMware to rev up Workstation 8 with 50 new features. The new release "advances the way technical professionals can work with multiple virtual machines from their PCs or on enterprise private clouds," says VMware.

With Workstation 8, users can run a full web or cloud environment on a PC, including VMware Micro Cloud Foundry, says VMware (see image above). Developers can now more easily port their virtual machines to the cloud, including the ability to drag and drop VMs directly into the server-based vSphere, as well as into another Workstation 8 installation, says the company (see image below) . The vSphere connection is said to enable further testing, demoing, and analysis not available on the desktop.

New VM drag and drop function in Workstation 8
(Click to enlarge)

With the remote access features, meanwhile, developers can quickly establish remote connections to hosts running in Workstation, VMware vSphere, and VMware vCenter, says VMware. In addition, users can "share" VMs so they can be more easily accessed by teammates.

Autocad running in Workstation 8, showing off new 3D graphics capabilities
(Click to enlarge)

VMware Workstation 8 also updates the user interface. Enhancements include simplified menus, live thumbnails, and improved preferences screens, says the company. A new VM library is said to offer improved search features that let users search and access VMs whether they reside on a desktop, server, or another PC running Workstation.

Under the hood, VMs have been enhanced with support for HD audio with 7.1 surround sound, as well as USB 3.0 and Bluetooth devices, says VMware. There have also been improvements to virtual symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), as well as 3D graphics performance (see above and below).

Google Earth VMs also benefit from new 3D graphics support
(Click to enlarge)

New support for up to 64GB of RAM appears to be aimed at extending Workstation to better run on advanced 3D workstations and servers. In addition, the software now supports the creation of virtual machines with up to eight virtual processors or eight virtual cores, as well as 2TB virtual disks, says the company.

VMware also offers a version of its virtualization technology called MVP (mobile virtualization platform) for mobile devices. The Linux-ready software supports Android, as well, and is appearing this year on LG's Android smartphones.

Stated Christopher Young, vice president and general manager, End-User Computing, VMware, "The users of VMware Workstation pioneer the adoption of virtual environments and private clouds. Our team recognizes the needs of these users and has made significant enhancements to VMware Workstation 8, making it even easier for them to move beyond the virtual box."


VMware Workstation 8 is available for $199, and upgrades from version 6.x and 7.x are available for $99, says VMware. VMware customers who have purchased VMware Workstation 8 between Aug. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2011, are eligible for a complimentary electronic upgrade to Workstation 8. More information may be found at the VMware Workstation 8 page.

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