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.

Do I eat my own dog food?

Customers and partners do ask me what I use on a daily base. Do I use ThinApp, Socialcast, Sliderocket, View etc etc? In other words, do I eat our own dog food?

Well, first of all, the base. My laptop is a personal Mac Book Pro. For the geeks (just like myself); a 2.66Ghz Core i7, 8GB Ram and a 256GB SSD and Snow Leopard. Yeah baby, I love my MBP. It’s quick!

On top of Snow Leopard I have installed VMware Fusion 4. I installed Windows 7 Enterprise inside Fusion. This VM is my VMware Workspace. So my VMware Workspace is completely separated from my personal Mac environment. This way you can apply the “Bring Your Own Device” concept securely.

I don’t have a corporate vDesktop yet. Basically the only reason is I’m offline too much of the time and the current View Client for Mac doesn’t support Local Mode. I do have a vDesktop on our European demo environment though. I can connect to it from my personal Mac side with the Mac View Client and from inside my Windows VM with the Windows View Client.

So, what am I using inside my VM? Of course email. My email resides on a Zimbra backend and I either use Google Chrome (my default browser) or the Zimbra Desktop Client Application to connect to Zimbra. Because there is hardly no difference between the browser and application way of connecting, I use Chrome to connect to Zimbra basically all the time. I can use my email independent of an OS and App and have the same experience every time by using a browser.

For my presentations I do use Sliderocket. I converted my most important PPT’s into Sliderocket and threw away all my presentations. All new presentation I create from scratch in Sliderocket.  Give yourself a bit of time with creating presentations and converting PPT’s. Not everything will go smoothly from the start but I love Sliderocket now. I’m still not a guru but I wasn’t a guru with Powerpoint either. I tried to create a small story here. Just in case I don’t have a connection, I have cached all my presentations into my Sliderocket Player application. You can download it for Windows, Mac and iPad.

Everyday I also use VMware App Manager. Via App Manager I can easily connect to several SaaS applications VMware provides me, like for example VMware Socialcast.  I intensely use Socialcast to collaborate with my colleagues. You can read about my Socialcast experience here. To connect to Socialcast I do use a browser but I have to say the Socialcast App is looking pretty good.

For my data I use Mozy Stash. Stash is in beta at this moment. This new technology keeps my data synced across all my devices. You can compare it with Dropbox. I will elaborate on Stash soon.

Lastly, I use a couple of ThinApp-ed applications, like Google Chrome and Adobe Reader.

I try to use as much VMware End User Computing technology as possible. When new technologies arrive I will continue to try to use them as quickly as possible. I can’t wait to use Horizon Mobile, Appblast and Octopus.