VMware ships virtual desktop package

Version 5's collaboration features help developers simulate scenarios more efficiently

See correction below

VMware next week will ship an improved version of its desktop virtualization software that helps programmers collaborating in teams to provision multi-tiered applications as well as simulate real-world deployment scenarios more efficiently.

VMware Workstation 5, which features memory sharing technology borrowed from the company's ESX Server, has a Teams feature that allows users to connect multiple virtual machines together with configurable network segments in order to simulate and test higher-end applications on a programmer's desktop system, company officials said.

The new version also allows desktop users to take multiple point-in-time "snapshots" of running virtual machines, and then revert back to a previous snapshot with a single mouse click. Version 5 makes it possible for users to mark any virtual machine as a template, allowing multiple users to share its base installation. Any changes made to the virtual machine are saved in a new virtual machine that is connected as a way to reduce disk space and better empower team collaboration, company officials said.

"There are a lot more people building browser-based applications today, but building them is expensive because enterprises can't afford to buy machines for each and every developer. But a feature like Teams, for instance, allows developers to create multi-tier configurations on a single physical machine," said Srinivas Krishnamurti, a senior product manager at VMware.

One developer said the new product's virtual capabilities have served to reduce their hardware costs.

"We cut our costs by buying fewer PCs, and we can do more on one computer than we could with separate boxes. With language testing, for example, we can boot up four virtual machines in different languages at once, and then run and compare our products against different languages and configurations at the same time. We can also isolate issues without having to worry about degradation of hardware or needing to rebuild systems," said Cliff Thornton, manager of Solution and Interoperability Quality Control at Cognos.

In Version 5 VMware has also added support for 64-bit operating systems and processors including Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4, and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. Support for chips with 64-bit extensions, such as AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 and Intel's EM64T,  are also supported.

The company has also added new 32-bit operating system support to the product for host and/or guest operating systems including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, Red Hat Linux Advanced Server 3, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, SuSE Linux Pro 9.2, Mandrake Linux 10, Sun's Java Desktop System, and Novell's Linux Desktop 9.

VMware Workstation 5 works with both Windows and Linux host operating systems. The product can be downloaded for $189 through the VMware Store , or $199 for the boxed version.

Correction:

A portion of the quoted matter in this article’s original version was mistranscribed. The affected quote has been corrected.

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