A tool which I find absolutely vital when setting up or

testing any new system is VMware.

 For those of you who have not used

VMware for systems testing or development, I suggest that you give it a

go.  While the GSX and ESX application

server platforms are powerful tools, we are interested in VMware

Workstation.  In a nutshell VM

Workstation allows you to run multiple virtual PC’s on your desktop, full networking

support is included allowing you to play through test scenarios quickly taking

snapshots before making major changes, allowing you to roll back without

re-installation.  You can also cone

machines, if you need to test interaction between two Windows XP machines,

simply install once, clone and then change the machine name / IP details.  Many more features exist and the best way to

discover them is to have a play with the 30-day evaluation.  You will probably notice later on that I test

most of my projects and new implementations in VMware; realistically you need

to allow 1GB of RAM and ~30GB+ disk space, but with hardware being cheap these

days it’s well worth the expense.