Connect vCenter Server to VMware Workstation 8

vExpert Rick Vanover showcases a new feature with VMware Workstation 8.

I've usually favored Oracle VM VirtualBox over VMware Workstation, but version 8 of VMware Workstation may lead me to rethink my preferences. Workstation 8 brings a number of new features, including the ability to connect the Workstation console to other systems running select VMware products (VMware vCenter Server, ESXi or other Workstation systems).

This is very easy to do from VMware Workstation. There are a couple of parameters, such as credentials and possibly a certificate to accept (it's similar to what happens on a vCenter login), before making the connection. From the File menu, adding a server connection is shown in Figure A. Figure A

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Once the connection is made, some basic administration tasks can be performed. The most useful administrative aspect of the remote connection to another server is the virtual machine console. This allows a vCenter virtual machine's console to be accessed without running the vSphere Client. For IT pros who use VMware Workstation and the vSphere Client, this can be a timesaver for casual access to vSphere machines. This connection is shown in Figure B. Figure B

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Other basic administrative tasks available with this connection include the ability to power on or power off virtual machines, take snapshots, map removable media, create new virtual machines, and some other minor tasks. Perhaps the most intriguing of VMware Workstation's new features (though not related to the vCenter connection) is the ability to record the console as an .AVI file. This is an incredible tool for documentation and training purposes. It is selected from the VM menu, and couldn't be easier to use. Figure C shows a virtual machine's activity being played in Windows Media Player. Figure C

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With this powerful list of features on VMware Workstation, I think it is pretty clear where the features are pointing my preference now compared to VirtualBox.

If you're using Workstation 8, what are your favorite features? Let us know in the discussion.