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VMware Announces Workstation 5.5

VMware Inc. announced the general availability of VMware Workstation 5.5, the newest release of its desktop virtualization software. VMware Workstation 5.5 has numerous new features and significant platform enhancements that provide unmatched flexibility for developers and testers.

Millions today use VMware Workstation, first introduced more than six years ago, to accelerate software development, testing and deployment and increase product quality. With VMware Workstation, enterprises are able to create a library of virtual machines for 32-bit and 64-bit x86 operating systems, including Linux, NetWare, Solaris x86 and Windows, that replicate production environments. These virtual machines can then be rapidly provisioned and used, making it possible for developers and testers to spend more time developing and testing software and less time configuring and managing their required environments.

"VMware Workstation 5.5 reaffirms VMware's commitment to providing our customers with the industry's broadest virtualization platform," said Brian Byun, vice president of products and alliances at VMware. "Our customers have indicated that features like support for 64-bit guest operating systems and multi-CPU virtual machines are very important to them as they plan their infrastructure for the future. VMware Workstation 5.5 gives developers a powerful platform to accelerate the development, testing and support of their next-generation applications."

"Virtualization will drive increased operational efficiency, flexibility, mobility and integrity for customers across the enterprise," said Chad Taggard, director of advanced technologies marketing for Intel's Digital Enterprise Group. "We are pleased to see this first product from VMware supporting the market's first shipping hardware-enabled virtualization technology from Intel. Coupling VMware's robust solutions with Intel Virtualization Technology will expand the adoption of the virtualized enterprise client, mobile and server platforms."

"VMware Workstation 5.5 is the market's first commercially available virtualization software solution to provide 64-bit virtualized Operating Systems on AMD Athlon 64 processor-based systems," said Joe Menard, corporate vice president of Software Strategy at AMD. "AMD helped pioneer the market for x86-64 bit operating environments, and we are pleased to extend our collaboration with VMware to help deliver optimized performance and robustness for today's existing AMD Athlon 64 processor-based systems."

Among the major new and enhanced features in VMware Workstation 5.5 are:

  • 64-bit Guest Support for AMD Athlon 64 Processor-based Systems; and 64-bit Guest Support for Systems using Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) with Intel Virtualization Technology (experimental): Building on the 64-bit host operating system support introduced in previous releases, VMware Workstation 5.5 delivers support for 64-bit Linux and Windows guest operating systems and experimental support for 64-bit Solaris x86 and FreeBSD. This gives developers and testers the flexibility to run 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems simultaneously on the same hardware.
  • Support for Two-way Virtual SMP (experimental): VMware brings its server-class Virtual SMP to the desktop. Virtual SMP makes it possible for a single virtual machine to span two processors, enabling developers and testers to configure real-world production environments on developer-class desktops.
  • Enhanced VMware Virtual Machine Importer: VMware Workstation 5.5 provides developers and testers with the additional flexibility to convert Symantec Live State Recovery images into virtual machines or to open those images in their native format without any modification. Developers and testers can reuse their libraries of physical machine images when deploying or building a virtual infrastructure.
  • Enhanced Command Line Interface: VMware Workstation 5.5 offers an enhanced vmrun interface to allow organizations to automate repetitive manual tasks. New vmrun features include the ability to take snapshots, list all snapshots for a virtual machine and revert to a selected snapshot.

"We were very interested in VMware Workstation 5.5 because of its new support for 64-bit operating systems," says Ed Vanderpool, lead network engineer for Gap. "We've been wanting to use 64-bit Ubuntu Linux, so we tried it on Workstation 5.5. It worked flawlessly. The speed was incredible. We have been doing a lot of migrations and testing in Linux. With Workstation 5.5, we get speed, performance and memory management, which is exactly what we're after."

Vanderpool continued: "Workstation 5.5's enhanced VMImporter utility also enabled me to easily convert Symantec LiveState Recovery to VMware virtual machines for migrations. I did the migration on one of the backups previously and was able to move it over with Workstation 5.5 with no problem. Before, you'd have to do extractions; it was a longer, more complicated process. Also, we've noticed that being able to connect virtual machines to simulate tests in multi-tiered configurations is seamless and stable -- even more so than in Workstation 5. We also like the flexible network settings in Workstation 5.5; the setup is straightforward, and it gives us greater flexibility in testing."

"For us, performance and responsiveness is important because we want to emulate production environments for our testing," said David Kiser, IT site services USA support for Business Objects. "To evaluate VMware Workstation 5.5, I put server images in virtual machines on a dual Xeon host with hyper threading. The Virtual SMP worked great as performance increased over using a single processor for the same image. SMP teaming also works well; I tested with MS SQL Server, and it picked up the dual processor image right after a reboot. The Windows 2000 and 2003 Server images recognized the SMP setup with no problems. I was impressed with the responsiveness of the new images when installing the operating systems and running Windows updates. This new version works well with SATA raid controllers. I also found that teaming worked well on server and desktop platforms."

Virtual machines created with VMware Workstation can be deployed to VMware Player, enterprise-class VMware GSX Server and data center-class VMware ESX Server platforms. Once deployed on GSX Server or ESX Server, VMware VirtualCenter can manage these virtual machines. This lets development teams more easily manage the software lifecycle process and seamlessly move computing environments from development to testing, and from staging to production.

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