I have up until now been using my VCP 4 copy of Workstation 7.0 for all my VM and vSphere Lab purposes. It has been great, and has allowed me to do a lot more testing / prototyping. Workstation 8.0 was recently released, so I decided to grab the evaluation version to play around with. My first impression: “Wow!” There are tons of new features available, as well as a nice newly redesigned UI. I’ll detail the features that mean the most to me to start with, and then walkthrough a very handy feature of VMware Workstation 8.0 – importing VMs from your local Workstation into a vCenter environment!
Virtualising Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI
First off, the main pull of Workstation 8 for me was the ability to virtualise Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI. When enabled, this passes through these special CPU feature sets into your VMs, which for ESXi / vSphere labs, means you can now run nested x64 virtual machines. Previously with Workstation 7.0 I was limited to only being able to power up 32 bit VMs in my virtualised vSphere lab environment. Enabling this option for virtualised ESXi 4.1 or 5.0 hosts now allows me to power up 64 bit VMs, which is great!
Connect Workstation to a vCenter or ESXi host
This is also a solid new feature. I was able to easily add my Virtualised vCenter server into Workstation (the platform that was running the VM anyway!) as a node. From there you open up other new features, such as…
Uploading VMs running in Workstation to vCenter
Awesome feature in my opinion. In the past I would have used something like VMware Converter to convert a Workstation VM into a vSphere compatible VM and then upload it to vCenter. Now it is a simple case of drag and drop, or a couple of menu clicks once you have added your vCenter server as a node in Workstation.
3D Acceleration and Surround audio features for VMs
This is something I have been waiting for from VMware, not the typical kind of thing I would usually look at for business purposes (unless I was doing CAD or 3D modelling), but I am an avid gamer, so this is of great interest to me. I’ll definitely be testing running a couple of my games inside a VM to try this out.