I am using both.
VMware’s Workstation offers a wide array of features for desktop virtualization, with slight variations between the “Player” and “Pro” editions — namely, that you can’t run multiple VMs at the same time, create encrypted VMs, or share VMs as servers.
Here’s a summary of some of Workstation’s (pro) most beloved features:
Host/guest file sharing
USB smart card reader support
USB 3.0 support
Integration w/ vSphere/ESXi server
Integration w/ vCloud Air
3D graphics with DX12 and OpenGL 3.3 support
Another example is Workstations ability to create “linked clones” that let you create the same VM over and over again without exhausting disk space.
Speaking of space and power, Workstation can support up to 16 vCPUs, 8TB virtual disks, and 64GB of memory in a single, virtual environment.
Despite hitting the market much later than Workstation, VirtualBox offers many of the same features, and couple of unique ones:
Cross-platform compatibility (installs on Mac, Linux, Windows, Solaris computers)
Command line interaction
Shared folders and clipboard
Special drivers and utilities to facilitate switching between systems
Seamless mode (lets you run virtual applications next to normal ones)
Limited support for 3D graphics (up to OpenGL 3.0)
Can exchange disk images with VMware
VM video capture
VM disk image encryption (with paid extension pack)
Virtual USB 2.0/3.0 support (with paid extension pack)
You may notice a couple of drawbacks here, compared with VMware’s feature set. For one thing, VirtualBox doesn’t offer the same level of support for 3D graphics, which could be an issue if you plan to be a heavy user (i.e. have more than one or two VMs running at the same time). Furthermore, while VirtualBox can exchange disk images with VMware, it doesn’t integrate with vSphere, ESXi, or vCloud Air, which may prevent you from enjoying a truly seamless hypervisor experience.
Choosing the right solution for your needs, in this case, is highly subjective. A lot will depend on your preference — for the security and assurance of proprietary tools, or the flexibility and customization of open-source. If you prefer one over the other, you may already have your answer.
If not, here are a few final considerations:
Workstation/Fusion is obviously the better choice is you already work in a VMware environment, as it will provide better compatibility with VMware servers and data management tools. Overall, probably a better choice for enterprise use.
VirtualBox is excellent if you only need to run VMs on a few machines and want access to a command line interface in addition to the GUI.
The both start with the letter V, so if you’re an alphabet person, that’s something to consider.