VMWare Server 2: A Brief Review

Christopher Lentz | July 13, 2009 05:30 PM

Virtualization seems to be everywhere on the internet right now. It is the "buzz word" of IT professionals and it seems that everyone is either trying it or considering it for their system. I mean let's be honest...the idea of having only one(maybe two) servers in a corporate network sounds like paradise to most IT administrators. Even better still is the reduction in power consumption reducing your carbon footprint. I have been trying out virtual machines in some form (desktop or server) for a few years now and I think I have finally made up my mind about the best of the best

The Features Speak For Themselves

VMWare recently released the Server 2 virtualization software and made some amazing improvements since the Server 1 version. The first thing is the transition to a web interface for managing your virtual machines. Next, they increased the supported operating systems including legacy OS's like Windows 98, which if you believe it, I have still seen these systems in use in the corporate world. Another nice feature is the ability to span a VM across more than one processor or vice versa, assign a single processor to a VM on a host with multiple processors. Finally, and this is one of my favorite features, entire state capture of the virtual machine. This comes in handy for developing or sandbox environments.

Testing It Out

Before this I had been running VMWareDesktop on my AMD x2 Dual-Core 2.0 GHz desktop with 3 GB of RAM and 500 GB of SATA II storage. After I loaded the VMWare Web Access my system was showing 1GB of memory use and 1-2% processor utlization. Upon starting my CentOS 5 virtual machine the memory went up a bit to 1.4 GB and the processor went up to a range of 40-60% utilization during the loading. However, after the CentOS had finished loading and I was logged into it the memory stayed near the 1.4 GB mark and the processor fell way back down to 2-10% utilization. Let's not stop there though, I also have a Windows XP virtual machine that I like to use for sandbox testing. The situation was pretty much the same as my Windows XP virtual machine booted. After it had finished booting and I had logged in the memory on the host was up to 2.3 GB and the processor was in the 5-12% range. I was very impressed with these statistics because I know my machine is weak in comparison to most corporate servers. Though my host machine did lag a little I soon realized it was because I also had Adobe Photoshop running to cut my screen shots for this article. So, I checked to see how much of the memory it was using which was 60% according to Photoshop. So after deducting that from the totals above, the numbers looked even more impressive.

Now It's Your Turn

Virtualization is a handy tool that any IT administrator should consider for their arsenal of tools. It makes your life easier and the best thing is VMWare Server is FREE to download! So give it a test run and see what you think. It may be easier to convince your CFO if he knows how much money it will save the company in the long run even if you need a something larger like VMWare Sphere.


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