I recently received an invitation to the VMware Workstation beta program for the next version, currently code-named ‘Iron’. I have yet to join the beta, but the invitation got me thinking about what new features I would like to see in VMware Workstation. Once I join the beta I will not be allowed to publicly discuss the new features, so I’ll toss out some ideas now and see how many show up in future releases:
- Group Policy management of VMware Workstation installations. I’ve spent the past four years in software development environments, and VMware Workstation has been a key component in those environments as it allows developers to create unique, portable environments for whatever it is that those crazy coders cook up next. The problem, however, is that coders are crazy and sometimes do things in VM’s’ that are not, um, ideal. I would love to be able to exert control over the VMware Workstation installations through Group Policy to help control the environment a bit. Here are a few policy elements I can envision:
- Allow certain types of network configurations, prevent others. For example, I want to allow only host-only configurations so developers cannot use VM’s to get around security mechanisms or host lockdowns, or prevent bridged/NAT’d configurations so VM’s are less likely to be an entry point for malware.
- Prevent inefficient resource configurations by restricting VM’s from being configured with more than a certain percentage of the hosts memory, CPU count, etc. I’ve seen people configure guests with the same amount of memory as the host and performance in both suffers. Controlling this could save on help desk calls.
- Control around disk configurations. For example, I can picture policies that would block VMDK’s from being placed on removable media to prevent data leakage, or prevent users from creating a VMDK that would fill their local disk.
- A policy that defines master image location and prevents VM’s not obtained from the central image repository from being started. This would allow network admins to maintain some control over the base images on the network. ACE capabilities probably come in here….
- Monitoring, Alerting, and Reporting of key aspects of VMware Workstations installations. As a network manager, I want to be able to report on the VM’s that are in place on various hosts around the environment, and monitor their usage. A report of all VM’s on a host with MAC address, host OS, IP address, and even a copy of the .vmx could be useful.
- Integration with VMware Lab Manager – Lab Manager is an awesome tool, but the SMB’s that I service are not always able to afford the resources needed to run every VM a development team can dream up, and there is plenty of horsepower on a modern workstation. I would love to see a simple integration with Lab Manager that would allow users to be able to pull images from library or their workspace to their local workstation, and push images back to Lab Manager as necessary.
- The ability to use the host as parent, and guests VM’s as snapshots. The physical host could be the standard image provisioned by IT and the VM’s as snapshots would allow users to customize the image or do revision testing of software without affecting the base image.
- 3D/Aero enabled within guest. It doesn’t work in current versions, but I can see this coming along soon after watching VMware View and PC-over-IP demos of great 3D performance in VDI environments.
- Improved Unity experience. It’s already pretty good, but can always be better.
- vShield Zones implemented in Workstation to control communication between VM’s, and of course, vShield Zones controlled through Group Policy.
That’s about all I can come up with off the top of my head. I am not a heavy Workstation user myself, so some of my wish list may already be in the product. I also know that some of the items on my list are in ACE, but ACE is not appropriate for all environments. I am wondering how the continued drive to the data center and cloud, including virtual desktop technologies continuing to gain market share, may push Workstation/Fusion/Player out of the enterprise.
What features do you want to see in new versions of VMware Workstation (or Fusion)? How can you envision Workstation integrating with other VMware products? Leave a comment with your ideas!