Is it actually possible to run VMware inside VMware?

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Tags:
SharePoint
Virtual machine
VMware
A part of our company has been running a physical machine that runs VMware and hosts a VM that they use for SharePoint deployment testing. However, the machine is pretty old so we're trying to help them by pushing them towards hosted VMs. I'm curious but is it possible to actually run VMware inside VMware? I know it sounds crazy but it would only be used for SharePoint testing / an associated SQL Server.

Has anyone every tried this before? We're just trying to get the sense if this is a possible option.

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Although theoretically, you may be able to run an instance of VM Workstation on a VM Client OS, no, you cannot run vsphere in a VM in a vmware infrastructure environment.

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  • Kevin Beaver
    I've never had any luck with this. It has to do with your processor's capabilities and I haven't found one yet that works.
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  • arjanhs
    It's possible to nest a virtual machine within a virtual machine. The VMware Labs are build this way. It's even possible with Workstation. There are some requirements like processor capabilities, but it is possible.
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  • AlexChristopherJohnson

    ITKE,

    It is possible to run VMWare inside itself (so to speak), however there are technical limitation with running VMware inside VMware because VMware, Virtual PC, etc take advantage of the Virtualization features present in modern CPUs.

    Moreover, if you have two or more hypervisors are both trying to control Ring 0 then there will be problems.

    If your hypervisor can interact with the 'parent' hypervisor, then you'll be OK. Alternatively if the child hypervisor doesn't try to use the CPU virtualization features, or entirely emulates the CPU (such as QEMU) then you should also be OK.

    Basically old-style hypervisors on old CPUs use Full virtualization (slow) which would be capable of nesting with a heavy, heavy performance hit. modern Hypervisors/CPUs use hardware assisted virtualization (near native performance) and you'd be hard pressed to find a hypervisor that is designed or capable of nested virtual machines.

    However, ESXi 4 now supports virtualizing itself. See this article for more information.

    Regards,
    Alex Christopher Johnson

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