This content is part of the Essential Guide: How to choose the right VMware type-2 hypervisor

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What are some key VMware Workstation features?

While VMware Workstation offers flexibility for a busy test/dev shop, it won't help if the hardware underneath can't meet end-user demands.

One of the key VMware Workstation features enables users to create and use virtual machines with a myriad of guest operating systems without the need to buy additional computers. This creates flexibility for testing and development teams, but it also helps ease the burden on IT by using virtual environments rather than adding physical hardware that would require maintenance or patching.

VMware Workstation is installed and treated as an application by the host operating system. Workstation then maps virtual computing resources to the computer's physical resources -- CPU, memory, storage and I/O -- and can allocate those virtual resources to create fully encapsulated virtual machines (VMs). Since the host OS treats Workstation as an application, there is no need to modify the computer's boot partition or reboot the system when changing VMs. The VMs can be selected and switched seamlessly from the host OS.

To complete the provisioning process, enable the new VM with the desired operating system media available. For example, if you're creating a Windows Server VM, power on the new VM and have the Windows Server installation CD or image handy. When the new VM starts, the guest operating system will start installing normally. Remember that it may be necessary to purchase additional licenses for the desired guest operating systems when you plan to use multiple VMs with that OS installed.

Network setups are also flexible. If a DHCP server is available, Workstation can assign a new IP address to each virtual machine. If a DHCP server is not available, Workstation allows each VM to share the host computer's IP address. And if there are multiple VMs running on the computer, Workstation can support an isolated virtual network , allowing the VMs to communicate on the PC, but not exchange data with the LAN.

It's important to point out that Workstation only maps and allocates existing compute resources to VMs; it cannot create new compute resources. The resources provisioned to a VM are subtracted from the total resources available on the computer. A host system must have adequate resources available to run the host OS, any applications opened on the host, the VM guest OS and the VM guest application -- perhaps multiple guest OS and applications if there more than one VM is launched.

Over-provisioned VMs tie up resources that aren't needed, and under-provisioned VMs may experience poor performance -- or not run at all. It is also possible to provision a VM properly, but still leave the host system without enough resources to run the desired applications. Assign new resources carefully and upgrade the host computer if necessary. Powering down VMs will free the virtualized resources for re-use by other VMs or the host.

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