Intro to VMware’s Virtual Networks

I’m using the popular VMware Workstation 10 on Windows Seven. VMware have a number of products. You can download the free VMware Player if you want to run a compatible virtual machine but you can do more with Workstation. Of course there are a number of other virtualisation platforms for Windows, Mac and Linux but I’m with this one.

The Virtual Network Editor that comes with Workstation is where you can set up to 19 virtual networks. Before going on to look at that, note, Under VMware There are 3 types of network connection. NAT, Bridged and Host Only.

NAT. Network Address Translation. The NAT option creates a virtual network behind your host machine on which your guest resides. It has access to the real network resources through your host but doesn’t appear on the network to other devices on your LAN.

Bridged. This takes your virtual machine’s network adapter and bridges it through the host so the guest will appear on the LAN with its own IP address. Either a static one you configure on the guest or if you’re using DHCP, it will get one from your real DHCP server.

Host only. This configuration provides a virtual connection to another virtual machine. So you can have a network of completely isolated VMs if you choose.

Using the Virtual Network Editor, as an example we’ll add a virtual network for host only connection. This will act as a private network between 2 or more guests. The VMware virtual network editor found in the program group in start menu or just use the search, is where you initially set up virtual networks or Vnets. Some of these Vnets are configured by default. Vnet 0 provides the bridged connection. Vnet 8, is for NAT. Of this latter type, you can have only one anyway.

To add a custom Vnet click add. Choose the Vnet you want to use. You can think of these like virtual switches. When configuring guest’s network interfaces, you effectively connect them to these virtual switches.

Choose Host Only.

To have this network only be available to your guests, not your host. Untick Connect a Host Virtual Adapter to This Network.

VMware has its own DHCP server for these Vnets. In my case I untick this box as I want to either configure static addresses or set up a DHCP server on one of the guests themselves.

Next choose the IP and subnet you want for this network. Click OK, you’re done.

Now from within VMware, VM Menu, Settings, you can add or change the network adapter settings for the selected guest. For example from the Hardware tab, go to add and choose Network Adapter.

Choose the Host Only setting Click OK.

Highlight this new interface in the list view and select the Custom radio button. You can now choose the Vnet you configured earlier to which this virtual network interface will be connected.

Later I’ll give an overview of how I set up a small virtual network lab using these custom networks, with a guest acting as a router, linking them to my real network and thus internet access.