How To Guy

How To Manage vSphere from Workstation

Here's a cool new trick I learned absolutely by accident when working with a Wordpress server.

There are some days when you can just discover a cool feature by accident. This was how I discovered that you can manage vSphere virtual machine and easily convert virtual machines from Workstation to vSphere easily.

I had downloaded the BitNami WordPress virtual appliance and opened it in VMware Workstation 9. The appliance (which I found through the VMware Solutions Exchange, or VSX; it was previously known as the VMware Appliance Marketplace) is a LAMP stack + Wordpress (LAMP = Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). That means that you don't have to install or configure anything. You are powering on a fully functioning WordPress server.

Once I messed around with this server I decided I wanted to move it to my vSphere infrastructure. Having not had the need to do this in a while, I wasn't sure how Workstation could help me. I went up to Open where I noticed Connect to Server. I thought that was strange and tried it:

Connect to Server

Next, I put in my vCenter server credentials:

vCenter server credentials

I trusted the certificate:

trust the certificate

And, much to my surprise, my vCenter server, vSphere host and virtual machines appeared in my VMware Workstation VM inventory:

i can see the clearly now

(Click image to view larger version.)

From here, I found that I could create new virtual machines in vSphere (from Workstation):

create new vms in vsphere workstation

(Click image to view larger version.)

Not only could I create new virtual machines but I could power VMs running in vSphere on or off:

or power them on and off

Notice the Windows server VM here, how the path to the configuration file is on the ESX local datastore (one way to tell that the VM is running on an ESXi host):

Windows server VM running right here

(Click image to view larger version.)

I also found that I could access the VM console of a VM in ESXi, through Workstation:

access the VM console of a VM in ESXi, via Workstation

(Click image to view larger version.)

By right-clicking on the VM, I have many of the options seen in vCenter, related to the VM, as well as some new ones such as capturing the VM screen or Capturing a Movie:

some older, improved options, plus some new ones

Uploading virtual machines to Workstation is as easy as dragging and dropping it on the vCenter server, in the VMware Workstation inventory tree:

drag and drop to upload vms

Finally, if you have an older VM appliance HW version, like I did in the Wordpress VM I was using, you can move it to vSphere easily. But you first need to upgrade the VMware HW compatibility or make it ESX-compatible. To do this, go to Manage and Change Hardware Compatibility:

Upgrade or get compatible

(Click image to view larger version.)


In summary, the ability to perform basic management on vSphere VMs and easily move them to vSphere is a great feature that I didn't even know existed. I hope that you have learned a lot and you may benefit from this feature, just as I plan to!

About the Author

David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to


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