Replacing Virtual PC/Server with VMWare Fusion/Server for Development Environments


I develop exclusively on VMs. I currently run Boot Camp on a MacBook Pro and do all my development on a series of Virtual PC VMs for many different environments. This post by Andrew Connell litterally changed the way I work.

I'm thinking about switching to Fusion and running everything in OS X but I wasn't able to answer the following questions about VM Fusion/Workstation/Server. I need to know if the following features from Virtual PC/Server exist in their VMWare counter parts.

  1. Differencing Disks (ability to create a Base VM and provision new VMs which just add deltas on top of the base [saves a ton of disk space, and makes it easy to spin up new VMs with a base set of funcitonality]). (Not available with Fusion, need Workstation [$189])
  2. Undo disks (ability to rollback all changes to the VM within a session). (Available in both Workstation and Fusion [$189/$79.99 respectively])
  3. Easily NAT out a different subnet for the VM to sit in. (In both Fusion/Workstation).
  4. Share VMs between VM Player and VM Server. I'd like to build up a VM locally (on OS X/Fusion) and then move it to some server (Win2k3/Win2k8 and VM Server) and host it there but with VM Server. (In both Fusion/Workstation).
  5. An equivalent to Hyper-V. (Both Fusion and Workstation take advantage of type-2 hypervisor a for 64x VMs, neither do for 32 bit VMs. VMWare claims they're no slower as a result some benchmarks corroborate this assertion).
  6. Ability to Share disks between multiple VMs. If I have a bunch of databases on a virtual disk and want them to appear on more than one VM I should be able to just attach them. (Available in both Fusion and Workstation)
  7. (Nice to have) Support for multiple processors assigned to a VM (Available in both Fusion and Workstation).

Is there a VMWare guru out there who knows for sure that the above features are available on the other side?

Also the above has been free (as long as you have licenses for Windows machines), besides buying Fusion are there any other costs?

The end result of my research, thanks so much!
You can only create Linked clones and Full Clones (which are close to differencing disks) in VMWare Workstation (not Fusion). Workstation also has at better snapshot management in addition to other features which are difficult to enumerate. That being said Workstation is $189 (as opposed to $79) and not available on OS X. In addition Fusion 1.1 (current release) has a bunch of display bugs on OS X 10.5 (works well on 10.4). These will be remedied in Fusion 2.0 which is currently in (RC1). I'll probably wait until v2.0 comes out and then use both Workstation/Fusion to provision and use these VMs on OS X.

Best Solution

I've not used Fusion, just workstation and server

1) Yes, you can create a linked clone from current vm state, or from a saved state (snapshot) in VMware Workstation

2) Yes, revert to snapshots

3) There's a number of different network setups, NAT's one of them

4) VMware virtual machines created with VMware Fusion are fully compatible with VMware’s latest products.

5) ?

6) You can add pre-existing to disks to other vm's

7) Yup, you create multi-cpu vm's

Workstation costs, but VMWare Server is free

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