Part 3 : Advanced Mirage Concepts

In continuation from previous post, where we have completed the deployment of VMware Mirage , In order to efficiently manage and administer, We must understand advanced Mirage concepts, Mirage functionality, Mirage User Classifications, How to perform Centralized Image Management? etc. VMware Mirage backs up the user desktops, Mirage basically synchronizes changes to endpoint with back up copy maintained in the datacenter. As we know this copy of desktop is then layered that are then separately managed by IT and user themselves. Therefore IT can update mirage desktops without overwriting applications and data on the endpoint.

Mirage Key Concepts :

STEP-1 : The complete content of each users PC is migrated to Mirage Server and becomes an authoritative copy called Centralized Virtual  Desktop or CVD. CVD enables an administrator to centrally manage, update, patch, back up, troubleshoot, restore and audit these desktops in the datacenter

STEP-2 : A CVD is the centralized desktop image of user’s endpoint, The user performs daily functions on either a physical desktop or VM running on the physical desktop, The endpoint is never virtual.

STEP-3 : We can aggregate CVD’s of all users  belonging to a single department under Collections. Finance, HR desktops etc can be separated using Collections

STEP-4 : Mirage Client gets installed on the endpoint devices and it is its functionality to synchronize both CVD and endpoint image. Mirage client is both Hypervisor free and Hypervisor friendly.

STEP-5 : Distributed Desktop Optimization or DDO optimizes transport between Mirage server and Mirage client, Therefore network speed will not be a problem during synchronization. DDO includes Read/Write caching, File and Block level de-duplication, Network optimization and Desktop Streaming over WAN

Mirage Functionality :

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Mirage uploads and downloads data between endpoints and datacenter desktop images, Mirage is mainly used for efficient data management between endpoints and datacenter desktop images. Endpoint data, applications are backed up and comes to great help during endpoint recovery  Mirage allows administrators to create Driver Profiles that enable them to use the same generic base layer for multiple types of physical / virtual desktops.

Backup feature can be disabled at an endpoint, the application layers are captured from the same reference machine and deployed with Base layers to endpoint, changes are then made in reference machine in datacenter and is called Update layer. Administrators provide this updated layer to endpoints , and user can continue to work and is prompted for a Restart to apply the update.

Backup Process :

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  • Install
    1) Install the Mirage client
    2) Backup the endpoint to datacenter
    3) Any changes made by user or admin is captured in update layer and is backed up in datacenter
  • Periodic Snapshots
    1) Mirage takes peroidic snapshots of endpoints and stores those along with original back up image
    2) These snapshots capture incremental changes to full desktop and provide time stamped rollback points

Restore
Administrators can restore user settings and files along with the IT controlled elements of desktop

Mirage Administration Guide :

  1. Layered Single Image Management : Mirage allows admins to manage desktops as a set of logical layers that are either owned by IT or users.
    Admins create hardware independent base layers and app layers.
    Base layers include Operating system, System level infrastructure software, Core applications that must be enterprise volume licensed
  2. Automated Windows to Windows 8.1 Migration : Upgrading an existing Windows XP to Windows 7, Upgrading an existing Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 and also migrating user profiles to a new Windows 7 or Windows 8.1
  3. Desktop Backup / DR : Mirage takes back ups of all desktops in the predefined intervals by the admin
  4. Rapid Endpoint Repair : Admins can easily restore a users desktops with the latest backed up copy in the datacenter
  5. Hardware Migration : Users settings, OS and data can be easily migrated from physical endpoint to another incase of physical endpoint failure. Mirage supports following migration types P2V, V2V, laptop to desktop and vice versa
  6. Automated Windows Deploy :All user profile data and settings are preserved through USMT : User State Migration Tool
    Windows XP > Windows 7 uses USMT version 4 and version 5
    Windows 7 > Windows 8.1 uses USMT version 6.3
  7. Mirage always takes a pre-deployment snapshot before the migration process , a new copy of Windows is streamed to the Mirage client in the background a simple reboot will complete the migration

Mirage Layering of OS :

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  1. Base Layer : It is a template for common desktop content , and is suitable for mass deployment to endpoints, Usually it consists of OS, service packs, patches and enterprise apps
  2. App Layer : We can single or multiple app layers, Each of these layers can have one or multiple apps in them. App layer requires base layer to be present already on a endpoint
  3. Driver Profiles : Collection of drivers for a particular endpoint, Admins can download drivers from OEM vendors and then push it to appropriate endpoints

Admins are advised to follow the below steps for efficient image management

STEP 1 : Build a Reference machine
Admins build a reference machine , the content in the base and app layers are carefully designed by the admin, changes such as patching of OS and adding /deleting enterprise apps
STEP 2: Create a Reference CVD
After building the reference machine , a reference CVD is created. Note that only unique files are copied across network
STEP 3 : Capture Base Layer
The base layer from reference machine is captured, and this image is used for syncing with the endpoint image
STEP 4 : Assign the Base Layer
Assign base layer to a collection or endpoint.

Mirage Upgrade Process :

Uninstalling the Mirage Servers does not remove the data from Storage Volumes that were connected to the Mirage system. We must have the following information available from present configuration :
1) Server Configuration
2) Database Server Name and Credentials
3) Mirage Server Cache directory location and Cache size

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