A few days ago I’ve decided that I’ll look a bit deeper into the VMware Mirage solution and blog about it here. The reason for that is that in my role at VMware I get an enormous amount of requests for this relatively new solution. Customers are fascinated by the product and it’s technology. Especially the Windows- and hardware migration functionality is well received because it helps exactly where other migration or deployment solutions are struggling. It’s optimized for small and large scale environments and it comes with load of optimizations i.e. File- and block-level de-duplication, network traffic optimizations and more. If you want to learn more about Mirage please visit the VMware website and download the Mirage FAQ.
But now back to my little project!
As a starting point I’ve decided to read a bit of the collateral delivered by VMware. The Admin Guide for Mirage seemed like a good option – and it was. A great document which includes all information needed to setup my home lab. The Admin Guide is included in the VMware Mirage download package. To get this download package you’ve to visit the old Wanova website at: http://wanova.com/forms/lp.html as the download is not yet available (28.01.2013) in the My VMware Download Center. After the registration you’ll get a download link for the software installers and product guides.
Reading the Admin Guide I found the information which I’ve needed to planned the hardware infrastructure for my demo lab. The sizing mentioned in the guide of course is for a production system i.e. 16 GB RAM for the server and I planned to use less RAM because I’m only using it for a few concurrent client operations.
Of course I’ll use virtual machines for deploying the Mirage Servers and Clients, based on VMware virtualization. At the moment I’ve two options which are working great for me:
- My iMac i5 with 16 GB RAM running Mountain Lion and Fusion 5.0.x.
- A Fujitsu Esprimo P1510 with a Quad core i7 processor and 16 GB RAM running ESX 5.1. By the way this Fujitsu box is a great system for home labs as the storage and the network interface are detected by the installer without issues. Actually this P1510 is a office PC and not a proper server.
I’ve not decided finally which option I’ll go with but I’ve started to install the needed backend (Active Directory, SQL Server) on the Mac as my vSphere environment is not completely ready yet.
The Mirage home lab will finally consist of:
- VM with Windows 2008 R2 Server running as Active Directory Domain Controller and the Mirage Management Console.
- VM with Windows 2008 R2 Server as the Mirage Server and Management Server (Usually in a production environment you would install these modules on different servers but here this will be ok for me).
- Two client VM’s running Windows XP and Windows 7.
- Another client VM running Windows 7 as reference machine.
I’ve already used some product specific wording which you may not know so I’ll give you an overview first.
- Mirage Management Server – The main component that controls the Mirage Server Cluster
- Mirage Server – This server component manages the storage and delivers base/app-layers and CVD’s to the clients. Another task for the server is the consolidation of the monitoring and management communication.
- Mirage Client – The client is installed on a Windows endpoint. The client receives data from the server and sends local changes back into the datacenter.
- Mirage Console – The Mirage Console is a snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and it gives you access to the Mirage System.
- Reference Machine – A reference machine is used for creating the base layers for a CVD or s set of CVD’s. Actually this is i.e. a Windows 7 desktop where the IT administrator does install software which will be captured into layers.
- Branch Reflector – The branch reflector is a Mirage Client somewhere in your network, maybe in a branch which has an additional role. It serves the clients in the network with base and app layers so that the clients haven’t to download those layers from the central datacenter. This helps to save bandwidth and speeds up the delivery process.
- File Portal – The File Portal is a web portal based on Internet Information Server which gives the users access to their data located in their centralized CVD. This is great for users who can’t access their laptops or PC’s directly i.e. because they are stolen or broken. If that’s the case they can access the synchronized data via any device using a web browser.
- Base Layer – A layer defined by the administrator which includes the operating system, and the core applications i.e. VPN client, anti virus and so on.
- App Layer – This layer includes software for departments or line of business applications. The app layers can be created using the reference machine and then be deployed to large scale infrastructures.
- Driver Profile – A group of drivers which can be designated for use with specific hardware. The administrator can add drivers for the client hardware and Mirage will use them for the correct configured endpoints.
- User-Installed applications and machine state – The information included here makes the endpoint unique. It includes i.e. a unique identifier, the hostname and any changes made to the Windows Registry. Also DLL’s and configuration files are part of this.
- User settings and data – As it says, it includes the users settings and data. Administrators can define which data will be protected by Mirage. The admin could i.e. exclude large video files or MP3’s from syncing. You should note here that all changes made by the user to data, applications and the machine state are efficiently propagated to the datacenter.
You now got a first impression of the Mirage wording which will help you in the next articles in this series.
For now that’s all but stay tuned for the next blog post coming. I’m currently setting up everything and will be back soon.
Currently I’m planning to write about:
- Installing Mirage and connecting to the Mirage system
- Mirage Console overview
- Centralizing an endpoint
- Creating a base layer
- Working with the driver library
- Deploying layers to the Mirage client