Workstation 14 first thoughts

Lab in a box (nested lab) nerds such as myself love VMWare workstation. It’s the base upon which we build our labs as it supports ESXi out the box. I decided to take the latest version for a spin.

In my opinion Workstation 14 is a iterative release. There are a few new features that may be useful depending on your requirements. VMware Workstation 14 brings:

  • New CPU support (Ryzen etc)
  • A new hardware version (14)
  • Secure boot for VMs
  • virtual NVMe support

In terms of software there are several new items. Aside from the support for new operating systems (Ubuntu 17, RHEL 7.4 etc).

One interesting new feature is native OVF deployment. I learned that it is now possible to deploy the vCenter/PSC directly as a VM on the local workstation.

This makes things interesting because it removes the need to install ESXi and configure it out. Essentially popping out a PSC/vCenter is as easy as answering a couple of questions and half an hour later, a brand new vCenter! Makes life easier as your dont have to spool up an ESXi server.

Other features support for virtual TPM (Limited use case scenario in my opinion but you can use it as you would for Windows encryption and such.) and VBS support (Vitualization Based Security). VBS is tagged to become the next big thing according to those in the know regarding security.  Support is dependent on the OS to be installed by the way!

Using TPM in VMware workstation

Lastly, and quite interestingly, it looks like when installing systems there are new options! Virtual NVMe  is supported. To quote from the VMware blog:

Virtual NVMe support Workstation 14 Pro introduces a new virtual NVMe storage controller for improved guest operating system performance on Host SSD drives and support for testing VMware vSAN.  NVMe devices require virtual hardware version 13 / ESXi 6.5 compatibility and later.

The testing VMware vSAN certainly looks interesting.

NVMe disks now supported

All in all the upgrade looks to be worth it depending on your usage scenario. Personally I am quite looking forward to experimenting with the NVMe component above all. It was possible previously but required some kludges to make it work.