What Is VMware and How Does it Work?

Aditya Rayaprolu
Aditya Rayaprolu

Updated · Feb 27, 2023


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VMware technologies are a collection of software and solutions that turn your physical computer, server, or pool of such hardware into multiple virtual machines for countless uses. Each virtual machine has its own OS and other features. But what precisely is VMware, and how can it benefit you or your business?

What is VMware?

VMware, headquartered in California, sells software that allows you to create and manage virtual versions of almost every computing function into what it describes as a software-based data center. Gone are the days of having to purchase a new physical server for each purpose you want.

VMware virtualization software mainly targets the enterprise level. So if you have a pool of physical servers and want more efficient use, you can distribute the primary server resources among smaller, standalone virtual servers. 

Your physical systems lie at the bottom of the stack, which theoretically could include a couple of home laptops. But they typically refer to networks of work computers or servers pooled together, and VMware software virtualizes their computing, storage, and network resources. 

These resources can then be distributed across multiple virtual servers that function much like a standalone physical system in the desired configurations—i.e., store files, develop and distribute apps, maintain a workspace, and much more. 

Each virtual machine can include its own distinct operating system and perform in whatever way you desire. By using the overarching vCenter software, all of this can be controlled from a single administrative web portal. 

VMware for desktops runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Meanwhile, the enterprise solution, vSphere, requires no underlying OS, running directly on the hardware and managed remotely

Products of VMware

VMware products facilitate a powerful cloud computing and virtualization infrastructure. Many different products cover—depending on your requirements—apps, the cloud, networking, workspace, security, and more.  


VMware has its own operating systems that you can install on your physical server(s), turning them into hypervisors, prime for virtualization. 

A hypervisor—or virtual machine monitor (VMM)—is the underlying software that creates and manages your virtual machines. The software can handle multiple virtual machines, allowing for immediate additions to the network and centralized control. 

It’s much more efficient to run multiple systems virtually because of the energy and resource waste of running one physical server per task. You don’t need to purchase extra hardware to expand (to a degree).

You then go inside the base-level server and build virtual servers instead—be it Windows, Linux, etc. You could have 10 servers running on one physical piece of hardware; there’s no limitation in scale.


Formerly known as ESXi, the leading VMware OS (or hypervisor) is now vSphere, which you install on your underlying physical server instead of Windows or Linux—the first step in allowing you to start building virtual machines.

Most importantly, your underlying system doesn’t need to be a typical fully kitted-out server. You can install vSphere on all kinds of different computers. For example, you can use VMware on laptop computers. VMware for PC users is also popular. These computers simply join the pool of machines, servers, and other compatible hardware.

And above all, vSphere is free. You must log in from a web browser using another computer with network access to manage the platform. A secondary tool called Go guides you through setup and configuration.


The vCenter software is key to operating virtual machine ware effectively. It offers an overarching platform to manage your VMware vSphere environments. So instead of managing one physical server and its virtual machines, vCenter enables you to manage multiple hardware configurations and virtual machines in a scalable pool, with each piece of hardware and all the additional virtual machines therein.

Furthermore, the environment is so versatile that you can share resources between physical and virtual machines. If one goes down, resources can be shifted to where they’re needed without downtime.


App developers are shifting away from building static, three-tier applications toward distributed services that can provide frequent, ongoing updates. Tanzu aims to let you run any application on any cloud, bringing disparate apps and environments under one roof.

Tanzu helps you build modern apps, run a common framework of apps across clouds, and manage their entire footprint from one control center. 

You can maintain and modernize existing apps and create modern cloud-native apps side-by-side. These apps can be run from anywhere, thanks to VMware’s Kubernetes support in vSphere.


vSan combines with vSphere to better manage your pool of machine storage. It can lower storage costs by efficiently using all combined resources. It enables the most straightforward path to standard and VMware in cloud storage management. 

Desktop Software

VMware Workstation allows you to host its hypervisor on x64 versions of Windows and Linux. VMware Fusion is its hypervisor software for Mac.

Cloud Management

The platform’s vRealize Suite is designed to help you seamlessly manage your hybrid cloud environments. This is accompanied by Cloud Foundation to help you launch and maintain private cloud environments on integrated software-designed data center (SDDC) systems.

NSX Networking

NSX is a crucial VMware program for network virtualization—an essential product in the SDDC architecture. You can create different access policies that govern who can gain entry into various applications and data on the network.

Workspace ONE

Workspace ONE keeps up with the modern world by allowing mobile access to your apps, data, etc.


This product facilitates Bluetooth communication with your virtual machines and supports mobile range finding.

VMware Applications

So what’s VMware used for in real terms? The possibilities are endless, but consider how the company categorizes its multiple uses below.

Virtual Networking

Cloud hosting with VMware  (virtual networking) is used for making the most of your hardware underlay from computers, dedicated servers, routers, switches, etc. It creates simpler resource management, easier remote access, higher uptime, and increased performance. VMware brings everything together with a virtual overlay. 

Multi-Cloud Environment

If you have a company that has one or more cloud environments—each with multiple applications doing their own thing—you can now migrate to the modern cloud computing VMware provides. 

You don’t need to recode your apps, as the infrastructure is seamlessly modernized. Everything operates consistently in a centralized system, taking all the complexity out of multi-cloud environments. Moreover, migration is around 40% faster. And above all, VMware cloud allows you to deploy modern apps on any cloud. 

App Platform

If you need to develop and manage many apps, VMware has you covered. You can build, secure, and immediately modernize the apps and run them across any cloud, thanks to VMware’s multi-cloud Kubernetes platform. 

The operative term for this platform is consistency and stability—nothing is hindered by old, out-of-date, and difficult-to-manage systems. It ensures you can natively develop apps in the cloud, adhere to modern app protocols, and easily update existing apps.

Anywhere Workspace

What is VMware in relation to day-to-day operations? It allows your workforce to work from home or remotely in any capacity, as long as they have some form of VMware computer connected to the pool. They can access apps and other areas of the network with virtually any device via products like Workspace ONE.

Work is accessed from anywhere with any device, while the front-facing apps are tailored to consumers who want an anything and everything approach to accessing your services.

VMware workspace solutions are used in retail, healthcare, and a broad range of IT and technical services, accomplished via virtualized machines in the cloud—allowing for the utmost convenience. 


Another benefit of VMware is network security. Regardless of the complexity of your environment, security remains an omnipresent force.

Modern enterprises must secure cloud workforces that use a plethora of devices to access the network without getting in the way of productivity. VMware can secure a combination of modern and traditional environments and is present when networks evolve—leaving no device or individual entry point at risk.

It effectively spans the entire distributed workforce and applications—be it brand new or old legacy systems still hanging on. This centralized and evolving security approach is more efficient and can cut costs in smaller individual pockets of security apparatus.

For example, the traditional security team, IT department, and operation teams often have their own security perspectives, using different tools and generating various isolated data. VMware brings everything together, giving you an overview of risk and enforcing global policies to close security gaps

It also ensures that attacks or natural disasters do not significantly damage the network because the cloud remains fluid, papering over damaged areas. 

Wrap Up

VMware for beginners is a simple way to create and run virtual machines directly from computers or laptops. And while the use of most VMware products is straightforward, you still must be well-versed in servers, networking, the cloud, and apps and understand why you would use these—primarily in their intended enterprise environments.

VMware cloud computing and computer system virtualization solutions are as advanced and versatile as you can get. They provide the next-generation infrastructure and management tools for your next-generation apps while quickly bringing the old ones up to speed.      

We praise the platform for its performance, efficiency, and security when pooling and virtualizing physical servers for boundless uses. It’s the ideal foundation for any cloud environment, big or small.


What is VMware Virtualization?

VMware server virtualization is a method used for turning a single physical server into a group of virtual servers that operate as their own. Each functions as a VMware virtual machine but essentially shares the resources of the main machine.

Moreover, each virtual machine can run its own VMware operating system. VMware virtualization uses a hypervisor to create a virtual environment—efficiently distributing RAM and other resources across various virtual machines. 

VMware supports a hypervisor to run containerized workloads in a Kubernetes cluster. The solution is ideal for users who want to separate each VMware virtual platform for different projects and other purposes.

What is VMware used for?

So what is VMware used for? Although the VMware platform creates virtual machines and cloud computing solutions, it can be used for several applications. Key benefits include enabling seamless scalability, network flexibility, automated operations, remote workforces, and better security—all of which businesses can use to cut costs.

How does VMware Work?

What does VMware do? In simple terms, it takes a single computer and creates multiple virtual computers that share the original’s resources.

Imagine that your desktop Windows PC uses VMware on a single home-user basis. You could operate two or three other Windows environments, which function like two or three separate PCs. The only difference is that they’re reliant on the underlying hardware of the original physical system.

Is VMware an Operating System?

No. VMware is not commonly considered an operating system. But with virtualization, VMware hypervisor users can install multiple operating systems—one for each virtual server. These include various OS options—from Windows Vista to Windows 10, alongside Windows Server editions 2007 SP2. There are also options for CentOS, Linux, and Ubuntu for those who shun Microsoft. 

And vSphere (formerly VMware ESXi)—based on the VMkernel operating system—is a hypervisor that functions on the machine without requiring any other standard or VMware operating systems.


Aditya Rayaprolu

Aditya Rayaprolu

As a cloud architect at McKinsey with experience handling Fortune 500 clients, this individual has comprehensive expertise in cutting-edge technologies and tools such as cloud computing, virtualization, network security, data storage, and disaster recovery. They have a wealth of experience in creating and executing virtualization solutions for both on-premise and cloud-based systems, with a primary focus on enhancing efficiency, dependability, and security.

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