VMware Workstation 5, which allows users to build a library of virtual machines for Windows, Linux, Netware and Solaris x86 that mimic production environments, was designed to provide greater flexibility to the growing number of enterprises developing and testing multitiered, browser-based applications.
The new Teams feature, for example, "allows you to set up multiple virtual machines—developer class—and connect them together so you have an entire multitiered configuration running on one physical machine," said Srinivas Krishnamurti, senior product manager at Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware Inc.
The feature aims to let developers use a single physical machine instead of having to use four or five PCs when working on multitiered applications, and avoid having to use a shared lab where much time is lost configuring a multitiered infrastructure.
Once multiple virtual machines are configured, network segments that connect to the different virtual machines can be established to reflect real-world deployments. Developers can change the bandwidth between any two virtual machines to see how the application behaves over different network connections.
"We control the network bandwidth—the rate at which packets move—and we simulate packet loss. You can set up firewalls in between virtual machines," Krishnamurti said.
VMware Workstation 5 is also more efficient in how memory is used and shared by multiple virtual machines, so developers are not required to have multiple gigabytes of memory.
"We let virtual machines do page sharing to better use memory," Krishnamurti said. "We look at all of the memory the virtual machines are asking us for. If multiple virtual machines are looking at the same memory, then we just give them a link to it instead of giving them their own mini copy of it."
Also new is the multiple snapshots feature, which lets developers and quality-assurance testers take multiple snapshots of the state of their machine at any given point in time and then easily revert back to another state with a single mouse click.
VMware Workstation 5, which also provides full support for 64-bit hosts, includes a new Clones feature that reduces the amount of disk space required by each virtual machine to enable team collaboration.
"It makes it easier for testers and developers to share virtual machines, working off one copy in a central location that multiple people can use at the same time," Krishnamurti said.
VMware Workstation 5 is available now for Windows and Linux.