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The Top 7 Uses For VMware Workstation

vmware workstation

VMware Workstation is the wildly popular software which facilitates creating and operating virtual machines or VM’s right on your x86 based laptop or desktop computer. At the time of this writing, VMware Workstation is now up to version 12 and it is very common to find it installed on the laptops of Information Technology Pros, Software Developers, Web Developers, or just plain technology enthusiasts. VMware Workstation is the original, and best, virtualization solution allowing you to run all kinds of different operating systems on a single host computer. VMware Workstation first appeared way back in 2001 and has evolved to become the go to solution up to the present day. With excellent support for hardware compatibility, you should find your experience with VMware Workstation silky smooth and very productive. With that short introduction to VMware Workstation, Let’s take a look at some fantastic use cases for this great software.


1. Learn Server Management and Web Development

Since we cover so much about Web Development, it makes sense that one of the first great use cases for VMware Workstation is for learning all you need to know about back end web development. Linux has made huge strides over the years, and powers the majority of web based applications and websites. Need to get up to speed with the LAMP stack? It’s no problem with VMware. Simply visit the VMware Solution Exchange and find a suitable appliance to meet your needs. We’ll show a quick demo with one of the TurnKey solutions. This example shows the TurnKey WordPress Appliance which has Debian 7 with Apache, MySQL, PHP and WordPress all installed and ready to go. The download file has a .ova extension, the one we use in this example is turnkey-wordpress-14.1-jessie-amd64.ova. Once you have that file you need to open it inside VMWare Workstation.


Select File->Open

VMware open ova appliance


Import the ova appliance

VMware importing turnkey ova


Power on the virtual machine

Power on this virtual machine


Complete some basic first run configuration

Turnkey Linux First boot configuration


And POOF! Welcome to a fully virtualized LAMP stack dedicated to WordPress Development.

Welcome To WordPress on TurnKey Linux

This first use case showed a full example of finding a suitable VMware pre built VMware appliance file, and getting it up and running so a Web Developer can inspect and dissect every aspect of the LAMP stack, all right from the comfort of your humble Windows Laptop. Incredibly cool, right!?


2. Testing Multiple Operating Systems and Applications

VMware Workstation is a great tool that allows you to run other operating systems than what is currently running on your laptop. Maybe you would like to test out the new Windows 10 features, but you’re not ready to install it on your own computer. Perhaps you need to test out some new features on Windows Server 2012 or test a Skype for Business proof of concept. Another use case might be needing to stage a Linux application. All of this can be accomplished easily with VMware Workstation.


3. The IT Administrator’s Best Friend

VMware Workstation just might be an IT administrators best friend. Nothing quite sends shivers up the spine of administrators than having to roll out an entirely new application, mass configuration changes, or tricky proof of concept scenarios. On the other hand, many times in corporate environments, there are applications that run on old legacy systems that you may be afraid to touch for fear of it breaking. Maybe there is a critical application that only runs on Windows XP, but all computers in the organization are now Windows 8 or higher. By creating a VM you can test and verify configuration changes on the legacy system before rolling out to production. Proof of Concept testing is also a very common use case in IT departments. When you need to prove that the new app works to management, spin up one or more VMs to prove this out. There really is an almost unlimited number of VMware Workstation uses for the IT administrator.


4. Product Demos

With VMware Workstation, Systems Engineers can now hop on a plane with their laptop and WMware Workstation with entire virtual networks and perform application demonstrations at potential client sites. Consider a web based application that has a very specific set of requirements such as a client, a database, and a web server all on different machines that interact with each other. How could a Systems Engineer demonstrate that with only a laptop? With VMware Workstation, they can do so easily. Multiple virtual machines could be created ahead of time, configured for the multi tier application, and simply brought online when it comes time for the product demo. No matter what application you might need to demonstrate, VMware Workstation is a fantastic solution.


5. vSphere Staging

vSphere is the enterprise infrastructure solution for running virtualized solutions for all kinds of customers. If a company is considering deploying some new virtual appliances, you can first get these from the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace and load them into VMware Workstation. Once you have them running in Workstation, you can put stress tests on them, modify and configure various options before moving these virtual appliances into the vSphere production infrastructure. Another use case with vSphere is to move virtual machines out of production and onto Workstation in a fully virtualized private network for various configuration updates and changes before moving them back to vSphere production. This makes VMware Workstation a great tool for VMware administrators to run local copies of production appliances in an isolated testing environment, all on their own laptop.


6. Software Development

If you’re a software developer, you know the importance of having the correct environment to both build and test your application on. You can’t build a web application on Microsoft IIS for example, and then when you push it to the production LAMP stack and have it fail. Management is not going to be fond of the, “Well it works on may machine” excuse. With VMware Workstation, software developers can test their application against multiple operating systems as well as take snapshots of their virtual machines both before and after installation of their application to see how it affects the operating system and so on. In many ways, it gives the developer an unlimited virtual lab environment for which to test their applications to minimize potential platform bugs or errors before moving to a production environment.


7. Browser Testing

With the modern world of JavaScript applications that run in the Browser, testing has become more important than ever across all of the popular web browsers. Even if you have all browsers installed on your host machine, what about different versions of that browser? In fact, sometimes you will see a web application work fine using Google Chrome on Windows 7, but you find a bug using the same exact browser but on Linux or OSX. When you consider that you’ll need to test multiple browsers and versions on multiple operating systems, it simply becomes too much to do on a host machine. Microsoft even offers their own virtual machines for browser testing so you can test the Microsoft Edge browser in addition to versions of IE8 through IE11 using Microsoft approved virtual machines.


The Top 7 Uses For VMware Workstation Summary

This is literally the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things you can do with VMware Workstation. Whether you are a Web Developer, Software Engineer, IT administrator, or simply a technology loving geek, VMware Workstation is one of the best pieces of software you can have on your laptop. For the Apple OSX fans of the world, you need not be left out either. VMware has got you covered with the great VMware Fusion that offers all of the fantastic features of Workstation on your Macbook.