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VMware Workstation and Server Differences


Executive Summary:

VMware Workstation 6.0 and VMware Server 1.0.4 have many similar features. VMware Server, which is available for free, runs as a service and features multiple-user access and snapshots. VMware Workstation has more advanced features, such as multiple snapshots, virtual machine (VM) cloning, and host-guest drag-and-drop.

VMware Workstation and Server Differences

Find out which virtualization product best fits your needs

Being first means a lot, and nowhere is that truer than in the virtualization marketplace. Microsoft and a handful of other players are working hard at playing catch-up, but VMware had the first x86 virtualization products in the marketplace and is still the clear leader. VMware offers three virtualization platforms: VMware Workstation 6.0, VMware Server 1.0.4, and ESX Server. ESX Server is targeted at the high-end enterprise space. However, VMware Workstation and VMware Server have overlapping features, making the target organization for these products a little less clear. So let’s take a look at the primary differences between Workstation and Server to help you figure out which is right for your circumstances.

10. Price—One big difference between Workstation and Server is the price. Like many of today’s virtualization products, Server is free. Workstation sells for $189. However, you get what you pay for: As you’ll see, Workstation provides several advanced features that aren’t present in Server.

9. Runs as a service—Architecturally, one of the biggest differences between Workstation and Server is that Server runs as a background service and Workstation runs as a standard desktop application. The trade-off is that Workstation provides better interactive performance but Server is better suited for multiuser server consolidation scenarios. This tends to make Workstation a better development platform and Server a better production platform.

8. Multiple-user access—Because it’s a desktop application, only one user at a time can access Workstation. Server’s service-based implementation lets it provide simultaneous multiuser access. Server also features a Web console for remote management.

7. RAM per virtual machine—Although the first couple of points provide an edge to Server, when you start digging into the more advanced details, you’ll see that Workstation is worth the extra money. For instance, consider RAM capabilities. Workstation supports virtual machines (VMs) with up to 8GB of RAM but Server supports a maximum of only 3.6GB per VM. Both products provide USB support as well as support for 2-way virtual processors.

6. Snapshots—Snapshots is a feature that lets you capture a point-in-time image of a VM. You can use the image to roll the VM back to that captured state. The snapshot isn’t a complete copy of the VM; it captures only the changes to the VM image. Both Workstation and Server support basic snapshots.

5. Multiple snapshots—The big difference between Workstation and Server snapshots is support for multiple snapshots. Server supports only a single snapshot; Workstation supports multiple snapshots as well as providing a snapshot manager that lets you easily view and manage the available snapshots.

4. VM cloning—VM cloning is an advanced feature supported by Workstation that’s not available in Server. The cloning feature lets you quickly copy a VM. A snapshot requires the presence of the base image, but you can use the cloning feature to create a completely new and independent VM.

3. VM Teams—Another advanced feature that’s supported in Workstation but not in Server is VM Teams. The Teams feature lets you manage multiple VMs as a group. For example, you can make your VM domain controller (DC) startup, followed by one or more VM networked clients that might require that DC for authentication or other network services.

2. Host-guest drag-and-drop—Host-guest dragand- drop lets you drag objects from the desktop or Windows Explorer from the host to a guest VM. Workstation, with its desktop application architecture, fully supports host-guest drag-and-drop, but the service-oriented Server 8 product doesn’t.

1. VM movie capture—You probably didn’t even know Workstation could do this, did you? Choose VM, Capture Movie from the menu bar, and Workstation’s movie capture feature lets you record all of the activity in a VM and save it as an AVI file. You can edit the AVI with a movie editor such as Windows Movie Maker or just play it in Windows Media Player. Server doesn’t support movie capture.

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