VMware Workstation and Fusion: I do appreciate both more now

When I received my invitation for VMworld Barcelona 2012 as booth staff, I noticed I was scheduled for the VMware Workstation 9 and Fusion 5 booth. I honestly have to say that wasn’t my first choice. In VMware I mostly cover VMware View, ThinApp and Horizon. I considered Workstation and Fusion to be more “consumer products” and not enterprise. How wrong was I!

I had the pleasure of talking to the Product Manager of VMware Workstation/Fusion, Jason Joel but also the pleasure of talking to many end users during VMworld. Four things I noticed during my conversations:

  • I noticed that still, there are people who don’t know Workstation/Fusion. Well, let me quickly introduce Workstation and Fusion: Both products are, what we call, a type 2 hypervisor.  So, you install both programs on top of an Operating System. You install Workstation on top of a Windows OS (for example Windows 7 and/or 8) and you install Fusion on top of Mac OSX (for example Mountain Lion). It is called a type 2 hypervisor because you install the programs on top of an OS and not on top of bare metal. Installing a hypervisor on top of bare metal is called a type 1 hypervisor. vSphere/ESX is an example of a type 1 hypervisor.

After installing Workstation/Fusion (and yes, you can install WS on Windows 8 and Fusion on Mountain Lion), you will be able to create virtual machines on top of your desktop/laptop. To give you an idea:

You can run Windows 8, 7, XP, Ubuntu, Server 2012, Hyper-V and vSphere/ESX inside Workstation. Also, you can run Windows 8, 7, XP, Ubuntu, Mountain Lion, Server 2012, Hyper-V, and vSphere/ESX inside Fusion.

To know more about Workstation, read here: http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/overview.html

To know more about Fusion, read here: http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/overview.html

  • The second thing I noticed is that a lot of people are running either one or both products privately. User who are using Workstation and/or Fusion on their private laptops, testing software, getting familiar with new Operating Systems, following courses and have to do tests. Although I expected this use case, I still was impress with the amount of people who are using these products this way
  • The use case in #2 also expanded to the enterprise: users using WS/Fusion on their corporate desktops/laptops for testing purposes. I do have to admit, I didn’t expect this use case with this amount of users. I know many customers giving developers/testers a View desktop besides their “normal” laptop.
  • Fourth, I do expect WS/Fusion to become way more “enterprise”, meaning, both products are very separate from the rest of VMware EUC now, but I do think it is coming together. During the EUC keynote with Steve Herrod and Vittorio Viarengo, VMware View and Mirage merged. So, what is the place for WS/Fusion? BYOD!  Today, you could install Fusion on a private BYO Mac, install a Windows OS, Mirage agent and the company can stream a corporate image to your Mac. Yep, cool, but still too manual to my liking. I would like to see a system where, via Mirage, an image is being streamed with WS/Fusion wrapped around it. Yes, like WS Ace Edition had with VMware Player in the old days : ). Maybe it even is an idea to make a Mirage Image available via PXE: turn on Fusion, PXE boot and get the initial image. Another option is to manually install WS/Fusion, and IT sends you a link to a streamlined Windows package with the Mirage agent. Click, download, open and run it. Maybe thinking out of the box, maybe there are tools like Apple Remote Desktop to push Fusion and then the VM.

After spending a week with the VMware team and partners/customers I have the feeling WS/Fusion is a bit under estimated, under valued maybe not recognized although it won many awards. Both products aren’t just for people at home. It also is for the enterprise. I agree, both need more features around policies like expiration dates, policies around physical and virtual networks etc. Work to be done, yes. Know that WS/Fusion are evolving, are great products and can be used in the enterprise. Do read about the features like “restricted VM’s”.  Also, do understand both products are great test environments for View and vSphere.An example is the video driver. In all products this driver is the same and has been tested in WS/Fusion first before it comes into View/vSphere.

Lastly, do check out WSX. WSX makes it possible to remotely connect to your hypervisor/VM and show a VM’s content to, for example a tablet. Read more about it here.

I became to appreciate WS/Fusion a lot more after talking to Product Management, customers and partners. It is a great and mature products which will integrate with more products.