An Introduction to What Is VMWare
VMware is a company that provides virtualization and cloud related software and services. When most people think of VMware, they think of one of the virtual machine applications that the company provides. VMware offers everything from high end server virtualization, to the free VMware player that is popular with home users who want to experiment with new operating systems or run older operating systems for backwards compatibility reasons.
Who Needs VMWare
VMware provides services to individuals and businesses big and small. Whether you are looking to simply run a virtual machine on your desktop PC for testing purposes, or virtualize a lot of your infrastructure to cut down on your IT running costs, VMware can help. Virtualization helps to speed up deployment, improve redundancy, and automate a large number of maintenance tasks that were once complex and time consuming.
VMware, the company, provides several products, including options for server, desktop and application virtualization. These products can be used to improve business continuity, consolidate physical servers, move applications to the cloud, and make your IT infrastructure far more efficient.
Virtualization is not a perfect solution, and it will not work if you do not calculate your usage and requirements carefully, but, in situations where you currently have servers that are woefully under-utilized, virtualizing them makes a lot of sense, and will allow you to run several low-resource-usage servers on one machine.
A Look at VMWare Player
The most well-known, at least in the consumer world, VMware product is VMware Player. This comes in several versions. VMware Player Plus is a premium product which can be bought as a standalone application, and that is included with the VMware Fusion Professional suite. This application is suitable for commercial use, and is the commercial alternative to the free, personal use only, VMWare Player.
The VMware Player is a desktop version of VMware which lets you run virtual machines on your desktop, as if they were a standard Windows (or Mac OS, etc) application. You can create your own virtual machines using the install media for operating systems that you own, and those machines have full access to all hardware that connects to your PC, just as if they were running as the main OS.
VMware Player works with both Windows and Linux, and offers the option for users to install their own virtual machines, or copy someone else’s machine and have it work (usually effortlessly) with their own PC. The “Easy Install” feature of VMware player means that installing a virtual machine on your PC is far faster and easier than it typically would be to install the machine from scratch.
Why Use a Virtual Machine
There are several reasons that someone might want to use a virtual machine. One of the most common reasons is education. If you’re a lifelong Windows user, then installing a Linux VM makes it easy for you to find out whether Linux is for you, without the risk of installing it for real, or the hassle of dual booting. Another common reason for running a VM is software development. If you’re developing something that might cause hard crashes, doing most of your testing in a VM removes the risk of losing other work you have open, or losing a lot of time by having to reboot your PC.
One final use for a VM is evaluating unknown software. If you want to download something, or test something from outside your organization, doing so in a “live” environment is not recommended. A secure, sandboxed VM will let you test software in a fairly safe fashion. Some Trojans and viruses have the ability to detect when they’re running in a VM, so this method is not completely secure, but it is significantly safer than simply introducing unknown applications directly into your company’s IT ecosystem.
Improving Virtualization Performance
Running a VM is cheaper than running an entire physical server, but you still need fairly powerful hardware. You must remember that the host OS carries with it some performance overhead. The minimum recommended specification for running the VMware player is a 1Ghz or faster processor and 1GB of RAM. This is an incredibly optimistic specification, and most serious virtualization use cases will require vastly more powerful machines than that. If you want to consolidate multiple services, then you will need enough processing power, memory, disk space (and throughput) and network bandwidth to accommodate the host OS and each virtual machine.
Remember that virtual machines do not usually perform as well as real machines of equivalent spec, because of the extra overhead caused by virtualization. There are some things that you can do to improve the performance of your guest machines, however. With planning, your machines can run well.
Try to set your system up so that your VMs all run on separate drives. This will improve loading times and read/write times because you won’t have two VMs hitting the same drives at the same time. In addition, configure your guest OSes so that they have enough memory to run well. If your guest OSes are constantly hitting their page files, then you will see a massive performance hit. Allow each virtual machine to access as many cores as it needs, and let the host OS worry about keeping performance good. In the vast majority of cases, the CPU will not be the bottleneck for virtualization, instead it will be a lack of RAM, or poor hard drive performance.