VMWare Inc.'s virtualization software for the workstation has been specifically tuned for the developer since version 1.0 five years ago. Today, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor released Workstation 4.5, which broadens its focus to include the enterprise system administrator.
VMware Workstation 4.5, the company's first workstation release in a year, focuses on managing software from development to deployment, enabling administrators to test applications on virtual machines before putting them into production.
Companies can test applications on several platforms, including Linux, Windows and NetWare on the same physical server. Enhancements to 4.5 include:
- Support for pre-boot execution environments (PXE);
- Support and performance boosts for guest OSes using the 2.6 Linux kernel;
- Increased memory limits up to 3.6 GB per virtual machine;
- Automatic update checks;
- Integration with Windows Performance Monitor.
Directions on Microsoft lead analyst Michael Cherry said interest in workstation and desktop virtualization software is rising now, as companies test software for server consolidation projects. Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wa., provides independent analysis of Microsoft products and happenings.
"Another proof point that this is a big market right now is that the two big [virtualization] players were recently acquired; VMware by EMC and Connectix by Microsoft," Cherry said. "I think that shows enough interest in the space that they want to play there."
VMware product manager Pete Giordano said enterprise demand for VMware Workstation arose from its GSX and ESX server customers.
"Enterprises want to manage the software lifecycle by developing and testing applications on virtual machines before rolling them out departmentally or to the data center," Giordano said.
VMware Workstation 4.5 supports many different Linux guest OSes including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 and 3.0, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 and 8, Red Hat Linux, Red Hat Linux Advanced Server, SuSE Linux, Turbolinux and Mandrake Linux.
"For organizations that want to evaluate Linux, this gives them a way to do that without large investments in new hardware," Cherry said.
Workstation 4.5 is VMware's second release since the EMC acquisition was finalized in January. Last month it released GSX Server 3, and update to its mid-tier virtualization server. That release also targets application-testing groups inside the enterprise.
"There are three places VMware stands out," Cherry said. "The product works very well and it's very stable. They also support both the workstation and the server where Microsoft has yet to release its server implementation yet. Finally they support a large number of guest OSes."