Best Practices for Sharing VM's using VM Workstation

Desktop Machine - Dell T3610 64 bit - Win 7 Pro SP1 - 32 GB Ram - 2 TB HD

For many years, I only had a laptop and a docking station to run multiple monitors and when I traveled, the laptop came with me. This last time, I choose to get a desktop.  I am a software developer and I got tired of having to rebuild and reload software.  My current desktop runs VM Workstation 10 (I have 11 but it is buggy).  I have a desktop that contains probably 10 virtual machines.  Each virtual machine is assigned 8 GB ram and I can simultaneously run 3 VM's at any time with no problem.  Each VM is geared toward either a customers configuration or contains the correct tools for that development platform.  The system works great for me. As I have already had to rebuild the desktop twice and all i had to do was reinstall VM Workstation and antivirus  and copy my VM's over from backup.

However (isn't there always a however) I am now starting to travel again and will need my development tools with me.

My question for the experts... What is the best way to handle this? A small laptop to simply RDP or Citrix Assist to my main desktop and run from there?  Will that be too slow to be practical.  I live in the boonies and have U-verse with about 12 Mps.  Throwing my VM's in the cloud to have access from anywhere?

What is an optimum solution for a one person office that wants to have both a desktop and laptop access.  I have a second legal copy of Workstation 10 (and 11) that was on my laptop that I could put on a new laptop, but you know you can't just copy the VM's  back and forth as it wants a new windows license for every instance.

I have MSDN subscription so I have access to server OS's and other tools.

What are your thoughts and ideas on the best way to handle this?  I can't wait to get your valuable input.
Thanks!
DonnaOsburnAsked:
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We have guys on the road all the time and we do all three

1. Local virtual machine son laptops using VMware Workstation and Client Hyper-V.

2. Access Virtual Machines in the Cloud, on Azure, AWS and vCloud Air.

3. Access Virtual Machines back in the office using 3G/4G/WiFi via VPN/RDP/vSphere Client or Web Client.
0
DonnaOsburnAuthor Commented:
So you can get a relatively low end laptop (or surface tablet) to use RDP or citrix since all the processing would be done on the Desktop machine?
0
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Correct, we use the Surface RT now discontinued!
0
Ultimate Tool Kit for Technology Solution Provider

Broken down into practical pointers and step-by-step instructions, the IT Service Excellence Tool Kit delivers expert advice for technology solution providers. Get your free copy now.

DonnaOsburnAuthor Commented:
To make this efficient, would I be better off to change my current host from Windows 7 to a Server OS? or just leave it alone?
0
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
It would be better if you look at a Type 1 Hypervisor, as performance will be much better for many VMs.

e.g. VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi), Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V or Hyper-V Server.

VMware Workstation is a Type 2 Hypervisor, other Type 2 Hypervisors include, VMware Server 2, VMware Player 3.0, Virtualbox 4.0, and Parallels.

Type 2 Hypervisors are SLOW.  In most reviews and experience, they perform at roughly 30-40% hardware capability.  That means an OS in a VM run off VMWare Workstation will likely perform at best like it has an 800 MHz CPU if you have 2 GHz physical CPU. You install Type 2 hypervisors onto of an existing host operating system.

If you use a Type 1 Hypervisor, you get MUCH better performance. ESX, ESXi, are all Type 1 hypervisors - they (based on experience and reviews) typically get 80-90% hardware capability - so that same VM run off the same 2 GHz CPU should operate more like it has a 1.6 GHz CPU instead of 800 Mhz. Type 1 hypervisors are installed on the bare metal of the server.

Type 1 Hypervisors also include Hyper-V.
0
DonnaOsburnAuthor Commented:
So a vSphere Essentials Kit for $560 would make all this 32 GB Desktop i have run like it "should"?

I am not familiar with vSphere. I will research it.  I imagine I can open my Workstation VM's in it - or convert them somehow.  Would I RDP into the vSphere machine and then just select which VM I want to change to? Obviously I am constantly changing between personal (email etc), SQL server box, and app development box, etc. or would it really matter?

One last question - and I guess this is off topic.
My VM's are all built in 2 GB increment of disks. and one is a 300 GB VM.  Is that best practice? It makes it a heck of a lot easier to backup. Or does it really not matter performance wise?  It seems like it takes that machine forever to boot up.

you have been extremely helpful!
0
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
So a vSphere Essentials Kit for $560 would make all this 32 GB Desktop i have run like it "should"?

Yes, most definitely. BUT VMware vSphere is designed for Enterprise Corporate Servers, not Desktop Computers.

Check the VMware Hardware Compatability Lists HCL here

The VMware Hardware Compatibility List is the detailed lists showing actual vendor devices that are either physically tested or are similar to the devices tested by VMware or VMware partners. Items on the list are tested with VMware products and are known to operate correctly.Devices which are not on the list may function, but will not be supported by VMware.

http://www.vmware.com/go/hcl

I am not familiar with vSphere. I will research it.  I imagine I can open my Workstation VM's in it - or convert them somehow.  Would I RDP into the vSphere machine and then just select which VM I want to change to? Obviously I am constantly changing between personal (email etc), SQL server box, and app development box, etc. or would it really matter?

All VMware virtual machines are compatibile with other VMware Products or can be converted using VMware Converter. You can either RDP to each virtual machine, or use the vSphere Client/Web Client to connect to the Host Server or Management Server and show the VMs and consoles of each VM.

Splitting disks across 2GB disks, is fine for backup, but poor for performance.
0

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
DonnaOsburnAuthor Commented:
Thank you so much for all your advice! It is greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the advice about compatibility.  My current desktop will apparently not be certified to run vSphere.

A bunch of similar Dell's are listed but not my specific one.
0
DonnaOsburnAuthor Commented:
Quickly answered and responded.
Great advice.
Put me on the right track to a new hardware solution.
0
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Laptops Notebooks

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.