VMware Workstation gives technical users a cost-effective way to utilize desktop virtualization and IT managers a one-size-fits-all console. This introduction to Workstation demonstrates how to get started and use some of its capabilities, as well as comparing its features to VMware Player.
In the typical corporate environment, Workstation can help companies achieve two of their most important goals: increasing productivity and decreasing cost. For example, technical support representatives who need access to different desktop environments in order to assist customers can do so from a single piece of hardware. Instead of purchasing and maintaining several workstations, the support rep simply starts a different Virtual Machine in VMware Workstation and instantly has access to other operating systems whenever necessary.
One of the biggest headaches in IT is building and deploying new workstations. VMware Workstation simplifies that process by allowing the IT staff to create a new virtual machine one time and deploy it to whoever needs it. The Workstation product isn't necessary for most of the people on the receiving end of those deployments, though. For users who just need to use Virtual Machines created by someone else, VMware Player will fit the bill. IT Managers should plan to use the two products in tandem on their corporate networks.
VMware Workstation versus VMware Player
While there are a few differences between VMware Workstation and VMware Player, three will jump out to most people. First, of course, is the price. VMware Player is a free download; while VMware Workstation will set you back $189.
What does $189 get you? Well, that's where those other two differences come in. First, with VMware Workstation, you can easily copy-and-paste files between Virtual Machines and your host operating system. While the tech savvy can setup SMB shares, use FTP, or find other creative methods to transfer files between OSes with both versions, a simple copy-and-paste is much more convenient for most users. That ability comes with VMware Tools, though, and those tools require VMware Workstation.
The other big difference, as mentioned above, is that VMware Workstation allows you to create your own Virtual Machines, while VMware Player can only use those created elsewhere. If you just need to test-drive the occasional OS or application, or if you only need to use Virtual Machines created by another user in the organization, VMware Player will probably be just fine.
For many developers, testers, and IT professionals, though, the ability to create custom Virtual Machines is the real reason to shell out the money for VMware Workstation. For instance, QA engineers can create multiple Virtual Machines to test various operating systems on a single workstation, reverting to a pristine snapshot whenever something breaks. Systems administrators might use their custom virtual machines to test patches and updates before pushing them onto end-users. And developers can simulate large scale multi-tiered environments from the comfort of their own workstation by simply creating different networked virtual machines
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