Wednesday, September 3, 2014

VMware Fusion 7 Pro. A must have upgrade.

VMware just released Fusion 7 Pro with some major changes and updates. The most obvious are support for Yosemite OSX 10.10, improve performance, GPU upgrades.

However, if you are Mac based developer who is involved with ESXi or vSphere, this is an absolute must-have upgrade. This version definitely gives weight to the "Pro" denomination. The remote server integration makes it well worth the $80 upgrade and $150 full price.

So what is new?

I'm not going to rehashed some press release or product page. You can read that directly on VMware's own product page here: . Improved performance. Check! Improved Retina support. Check!

The "what's big" is the vSphere, ESXi support. This is only in the Pro version and it definitely makes it a big differentiator between the regular Fusion 7.

For those Mac developers who tirelessly worked for years with ESXi, your normal modus operandi was to install a Windows VM and run vSphere Client in a Windows' Guest. Now,  a majority of those functions are built right into Fusion Pro.

In the screenshot below, I can see my local VMs and in the preview pane and I can now see the inventory of my remote Virtual Machines. I even get general stats on usage of the remote server.

Yep. Now you can start, stop, modify remote Virtual Machines, and even deploy OVFs right inside Fusion Pro.

Impressive indeed!

You simply, connect and you have some basic control. This is simply a killer feature.

Another benefit to this is you can now run Virtual Machines remotely. I have 6 and 8-core AMD ESXi white box servers running in my basement. They have  16 and 32GB of RAM with 3 terabyte of data storage. I don't need to even run my development VMs on my Macbook. Rather, I can control and run them remotely. Sure, you can VNC or RDP in but that method is often laggy and unpleasant. Nor can you enable features of the guest via traditional remote desktop connectivity.

Here, you can run and enable device features remotely. For example, I run a proxy server and have a stand-by failover VM on another server. Both are running with the same IP. When one fails, I simply enable the networking on the standby unit to take over. The guest will utilize whatever CPU and GPU processing power your remote host hypervisor has.

So if you have VMs on a ESXi, vSphere or Windows Workstation, you can now run your VM on beefier, remote boxes. The whole start-up and control process feels and acts if you are running locally. I am very impressed. You won't get unity or shared folders on remote VMs. Thus, you'd still need to run those VMs locally for those guests that need those features. However, for most console OSes (Linux apps servers), you can simply run them remotely.

Furthermore, you can now provision on-the-fly fairly quickly.

Fusion 7 Pro has the ability to export OVFs built in the interface.  You now no longer have to run command line tools like ovftool to export your Virtual Machine  into a ESXi/vSphere format. You can even drag-n-drop local Virtual Machines you built on your Mac and it will upload and deploy on your ESXi server in a seamless Mac-like fashion. Again, killer upgrade.

Pictured below is an example. I dragged a local LAMP stack from my Macbook onto my remote ESXi server box and voila. Instant provisioning.

You can also export and download as well.

I must say, these Pro features are impressive. It doesn't have all the features of the Windows ESXi client but it covers most of the stuff I need on a day to day basis. The OVF export takes the hassle of tweaking VMDK and thin provisioning.

Now, let me comment on some of the other features of Fusion 7.

You can select what GPU you want to use if your Mac has a hybrid graphics card set-up. Before, I had to use some hacks to disable the NVDIA card but now, you can set it in the VM guest.

This will save battery power considerably for Macbooks with dual GPUs.  Console based OS and older operating systems will no longer start the GPU if you don't want them to. My macbook no longer whizzes the fan when I want to fire up an old copy of Windows XP or CentOS.

They've also improved Retina support. For non HiDPI operating systems, the rendering doesn't look so bad anymore. Pictured above is Windows XP and it now looks fairly good without the nasty dithering blockiness found in earlier versions.

User interface wise, it is an clean, streamlined new look that will fit right in with Yosemite.

Overall, I am very impressed. I am definitely giving this upgrade a big thumbs up.


  1. I would be curious about your ESXi whitebox setup. Is it running only free software from vmware?

    1. Micheal, I've been running AMD FX8100,FX8300s. I started out with a Fuji MX 130 here in this blog post:
      Then I started to work with various AMD mobos and multi core CPUs. They give the best bang for your buck. You can build an 8-core machine with 32GB ram for under $300. I am using ESXi which is totally free. At work, we use INTEL Dell rack servers which cost a lot more but for home lab, I'd recommend an AMD solution.

  2. Thanks for sharing! It is very informative