VMware Zeros in on Productivity

Workstation 5 streamlines development, testing of multitiered apps.

VMware Inc. last week released the next major version of its desktop virtualization software, which emphasizes making application developers and testers more productive.

VMware Workstation 5, which allows users to build a library of virtual machines for Windows, Linux, NetWare and Solaris x86 that mimics 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 VMware, in Palo Alto, Calif.

The feature allows developers to use one physical machine instead of four or five PCs when working on multitiered applications and to avoid having to use a shared lab where much time is lost configuring a multitiered infrastructure.

Once multiple VMs are configured, network segments that connect to the VMs can be established to reflect real-world deployments. Developers can change the bandwidth between any two VMs 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.

In addition, VMware Workstation 5 allows multiple VMs to use and share memory more efficiently.

One user working with the new Teams feature found that it saves hours of installation time for testing Windows Server 2003 software.

"We can now deploy a running Windows 2003 server fully configured in 15 to 20 minutes. Imaging it down with [Symantec Corp.s] Ghost would take us—between the rack mounting, power, IP address and so on—close to 6 hours for deployment," said Alex Cruz, system administrator at Dean Health System, in Madison, Wis.

Also new is the products multiple-snapshots feature, which lets developers and quality assurance testers take multiple snapshots of the state of their machine at any point in time and then easily revert to another state with a single mouse click.

VMware Workstation 5, which provides full support for 64-bit hosts, includes a new Clones feature that reduces the amount of disk space required by each VM 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.

Testy, testy

VMware Workstation 5 makes developers and testers more productive with:

  • Teams Connect multiple VMs with configurable network segments to simulate and test multitier apps on one developer workstation
  • Multiple snapshots Users can revert to any snapshot taken at different points in time with a single mouse click
  • Clones Any VM can be marked as a template to let multiple users share its base installation