Is Upgrading to VMware Fusion 4 Worth It for Security Pros?

Box of VMware Fusion 4Yesterday VMware finally launched the next version of Fusion for the Mac. Being a user of this software primarily for security research, rather than for its ability to run Windows applications, I thought I would investigate whether it’s worth upgrading. First, here is a portion of their press release. I”ve bolded the features I think security pros might be interested in.

via VMware.com

PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 14, 2011— VMware, Inc. (NYSE: VMW), the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, today announced VMware Fusion® 4 – the best way to run Windows on a Mac. Available now at VMware.com for a promotional price of $49.99, VMware Fusion 4 makes it easier than ever for users to run Windows applications with Mac simplicity.

“Enhancements to VMware Fusion® 4 make it a breeze to run Windows and Mac applications side by side on a Mac,” said Pat Lee, director, client product management, VMware. “Offering full integration into Apple OS X Lion, VMware Fusion 4 builds on our proven, award winning platform to provide an easy, fast and reliable way to run Windows applications on a Mac.”

With more than 90 new features and now optimized for today’s multi-core Macs and OS X Lion, key features in VMware Fusion 4 include:

  • Built for OS X Lion –VMware Fusion 4 is designed to provide the best Windows experience on OS X Lion. Add Windows programs to Launchpad, experience them in Mission Control, view them in full screen or switch between them using Mac gestures.
  • Better Performance and Faster Graphics – VMware Fusion 4 has been engineered to run Windows and Mac applications side-by-side with incredible speed and reliability. As a 64-bit Cocoa application, it is optimized for today’s multi-core Macs and delivers 3D graphics up to 2.5-times faster than previous versions of Fusion
  • Even More “Mac-like” Experience – VMware Fusion 4 enhances the way Windows programs run on a Mac. From the brand new settings menu to the redesigned virtual machine library and snapshot menu, users have even more Mac-like experiences when running Windows programs.
  • Lion Squared – VMware Fusion 4 now supports OS X Lion in a virtual machine, allowing users to get more from their Mac by running OS X Lion, OS X Lion Server, Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server and Mac OS X Leopard Server in virtual machines.

Continued here.

Ok … so maybe a few of the features mentioned in the press release might be somewhat useful for us. I’m sure we’re always interested in a smoother graphics experience and also maybe running Lion in a VM for testing. But what I’m really interested in you won’t probably find in any general press release. Here is a short list of features that piqued my interest.

  • Encrypted Password Protected VMs: Encryption is always a good thing so adding this capability is a welcome addition. If you already use Lion’s FDE, however, this feature isn’t probably needed unless you maintain a shared library of VMs. Here’s a screenshot I found over on ReadWriteWeb.com.

Screenshot of VMware Fusion 4 Encryption

  • Tree View Snap-Shot Management: Yes, finally! We can now manage all of those snapshots through an easy-to-use tree-like GUI structure. I’m hoping it lives up to the usefulness of this capability from their Windows version. Credit for the following screenshot goes to VMware.com.

Screenshot of VMware Fusion 4 Snapshot Manager

 

  • Time Machine Compatible Snapshots: I’m wondering what this means but if it saves on backup disk space and Time Machine load, we can finally start backing up VMs again instead of excluding them.
  • Faster Startup Times: I’m hoping this speedup is significant … it would be great for those situations when a demo fails and you need to restart your host computer from scratch. That would mean a lot less time standing in front of an audience telling bad jokes while the host, VMware application, and all guests boot up again.
  • Pause State Feature: I didn’t really understand how this capability differs from Suspend but it sounded interesting. After some further research, I found it described as Suspend but with a VM’s state saved in memory versus disk. Supposedly resuming from a suspended machine has been decreased as well. It would be interesting to see a speed comparisong between pausing and suspending. If it’s still a significant difference, wonder if we can just replace using Suspend with Pause full time?

They also mentioned a new Virtual Machine Library and this would be a nice-to-have for those yearning for the single window view with VM console tabs. From the screenshot on ReadWriteWeb.com it looks like this is a no-go unless there is some hidden option somewhere.

Screenshot of VMware Fusion 4 Virtual Machine Library

Also I’m a little miffed that current customers (myself included) are not really getting any discount love. Basically it looks like everyone gets the same price. On the other hand the promotional price of $50 through the end of the year is a great buy.

So will I be upgrading? Yes … you just can’t beat that promotional price along with some of the security-related and management improvements.

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For additional information on VMware Fusion 4, check out the official product page, VirtualizationReview.com’s review, ReadWriteWeb.com’s analysis, and a SoftPedia’s change log. See ya!

11 comments for “Is Upgrading to VMware Fusion 4 Worth It for Security Pros?

  1. September 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Is Upgrading to VMware Fusion 4 Worth It for Security Pros?: Yesterday VMware finally launched the next version of… http://t.co/TjSLGR2X

  2. September 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    #NOVABLOGGER: Is Upgrading to VMware Fusion 4 Worth It for Security Pros? http://t.co/ao7vroS4 http://t.co/Inu1SfcI

  3. September 16, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Is Upgrading to VMware Fusion 4 Worth It for #Security Pros?: [nova#infosecportal.com] Yesterday VMware finally… http://t.co/HTbel5nw

  4. September 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Some thoughts I put togehter on if I’ll be upgrading to VMware Fusion 4. http://t.co/ZSBjybG4

  5. September 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I upgraded to the trial version on my (older) iMac since Fusion 3 just up and died on me. My system meets the minimum requirements to run OS X 10.6 and Windows 7, but the VMWare kernel module makes my system unusable. That’s not fixed in 4, but the VM library looks a lot like a thumbnail view in finder – the suspended state of the VM is shown in the “thumbnail”, I don’t see how it’s much different than the version 3 launch window.

    At the same time, since the kernel modules make my system unusable, I can’t really test any of the other features on this machine – my guess is that the video card is borked, since I can run Fusion 3 just fine on my Air and ancient Mac Pro (1,1).

  6. September 16, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Laura: Thanks for the info on the Virtual Machine Library. I updated this post with a pic you described. It’s a pity we don’t even have that as an option.

  7. September 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I really don’t care a/b many of PRed updates to VMware Fusion but there R some good nuggets tho. http://t.co/ao7vroS4

  8. September 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Anyone got any VMware Fusion 4 snapshots of their new virtual library. Looking to augment http://t.co/ao7vroS4.

  9. September 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Anyone got any VMware Fusion 4 snapshots of their new virtual library. Looking to augment http://t.co/ZSBjybG4.

  10. September 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Whoa .. 90 new features in VMware Fusion 4 .. but here are the 5 I care about. http://t.co/ao7vroS4

  11. September 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Whoa .. 90 new features in VMware Fusion 4 .. but here are the 5 I care about. http://t.co/ZSBjybG4

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