VMware Workstation is a test-and-development environment that allows systems administrators to create and run virtual machines (VMs) directly on a desktop.
Workstation allows administrators to evaluate hypervisors and various operating systems and experiment with cloud computing without interfering with IT operations. IT administrators can also use Workstation to check up on host resources, perform management tasks and teach virtualization to students.
Workstation integrates with other VMware tools, such as vSphere, to increase collaboration between test-and-development labs and real-life production environments. The current version, VMware Workstation 9, is optimized to work with 64-bit operating systems and Windows 8. Workstation uses a web interface to connect users to local and server-hosted VMs from a PC, smartphone or tablet. Each VM made in Workstation 9 can run up to eight virtual processors or eight virtual cores, two terabyte (TB) virtual disks and up to 64 GB of memory. The administrator can also restrict VMs in Workstation 9.
VMware Inc. offers a free, stripped-down version of the Workstation environment called VMware Player. The paid version, however, has more features and capabilities for those who are beyond the introduction-to-virtualization stage.
Oracle/Sun VirtualBox is VMware Workstation's main competitor. It is free and there is an open source edition. Some experts argue that VirtualBox has a richer feature set, but many VMware administrators tend to prefer VMware Workstation.