I am trying to run a VM on VMWare Workstation in sort of 'background' mode, basically I want to start it without a console and connect to it via ssh only. Is it possible?
Yes it is possible. You can do this with the "vmrun" command using the "nogui" option:
vmrun -T ws start /export/vmware/rh5/server.vmx nogui
The VM will then come up without starting the Workstation GUI and you can ssh to it.
If your host os is Windows change the path to:
vmrun -T ws start C:\export\vmware\rh5\server.vmx nogui