Archive for the ‘Mirage’ Category
It is recommended and Best Practice to create a MirageAdmin Group before you start the installation of the components.
Domain Based Active Directory Group Procedure:
- Prior to Mirage installation, please perform the following actions:
- Create the Mirage Administrators Group – a new domain group e.g. MirageAdmin
- Add this new or existing domain group to the local administrators group on the Mirage Management server i.e. Add “domain.name\MirageAdmins” to the local administrators group on the Mirage server via the local users and groups configuration window – administrators group
- It is recommended to create a new Domain User to run the Mirage services (“Mirage Services Account”). Add the Mirage Services Account.to the Mirage Administrators Group.
- Creating a new account will allow better, secured access to the Mirage Storage.
- Add the Installing Account (that will be used for installing Mirage services) to the Mirage Administrator Group.
- The Installing Account should also have the access privileges mentioned above.
- During Installation of Mirage Management Server
- Login as the Installing Account.
- Enter the Mirage Services Account when prompted during the installation. The syntax used for fully qualified name is DOMAIN\username
- Enter the Mirage Administrator Group in the same installation wizard screen. The syntax used for fully qualified name is DOMAIN\group
Installation Errors with wrong security privileges
The Mirage installation could fail with “Failed setting default server policies: BI rules.” if you are using Built-In AD groups. Built-In groups are cannot be used as a Mirage Administrator group.
Today I had a great journey into the past. I’ve installed Microsoft Windows XP from scratch in a virtual machine. But I only did it for one reason – to have a desktop running Windows XP for my first Mirage Client installation and centralization. The initial installation of Windows XP was done very quickly but I’ve also wanted to install all available patches for SP3 so it took quite a while. After a reboot I had a nice and fresh XP installation. A great start for the next step in my Mirage home lab series here on That’s my View. If you haven’t seen the other articles before please go through them first.
- VMware Mirage Series Part 1 – My Mirage home lab
- VMware Mirage Series Part 2 – Server installation and first console login
- VMware Mirage Series Part 3 – Console overview
Can you remember this?
I’m sure you can and maybe your company is still on Windows XP as about 40-45% of companies in the world. But as you know Windows XP support is ending in April 2014 which is a good reason to migrate your desktops soon because Microsoft but also 3rd party software vendors won’t support the old Windows platform anymore.
Windows Migration and Hardware Migration are two of the use cases of VMware Mirage. There is probably no easier way of migrating from one OS to the OS or from one hardware platform to another. If you want to learn more about the migration use case in general you can check this whitepaper or read more about a reference story VMware did with ADAC, Europes largest automobile insurance association.
Enough marketing, no let’s dive into the Mirage Client installation piece.
As already mentioned in another article Mirage is a Client/Server application which can centralize the data of an endpoint and rollout new operating systems and applications in form of layers. To be able to do that you need the Mirage Management Server and Mirage Server I’ve installed last time and the Mirage Client which runs on the endpoint. The installation of the client application is quite easy.
Get the installation package in 32-Bit or 64-Bit (there are two MSI files) and then start the installer. If you’ve the .NEt Framework 3.5 not installed on the Windows XP, the installer will immediately stop at the first dialog. Install the framework and you’ll be fine. After accepting the license agreement you’re asked for a Mirage Server location. Enter the FQDN or IP address of the server into the text box and select the checkbox for an SSL connection if you’ve configured your server with SSL before.
As I’ve not configured SSL I just clicked Next which brought me to last step of the wizard. Just click Install and the wizard will finish, starting the Mirage Client installation. That’s it! In the task bar you’ll find the Mirage icon. Now I’ll give you a quick overview of the client’s functionality.
As you can see there are only a few options in the Mirage Client task bar app. Mainly the fronted helps the user to see if the Mirage client is working or idling. The user can check this clicking on Show Status. The other options help to create log files and the user can snooze the complete client operations for 15 minutes, 2 hours or 4 hours. But this doesn’t mean that the client does affect the user that much so he needs to snooze it. The Mirage Client is designed to only work in the background not affecting the user experience. But let’s go back to the Status windows quickly. Her’s a screenshot.
The Mirage Client is connected to the server but the status is Pending Assignment what means that the Mirage Administrator needs to activate this client first using the Mirage Management Console. Going back into the Mirage Management Console you can see the pending devices.
Right clicking on Centralize Endpoint you can start the wizard which leads you through the activation and first centralization of the Mirage Client. It’s just a 4-step wizard which asks for a few configuration parameters.
- The upload policy
- The base layer to configure
- The default volume where the client is being stored
What does that mean? The upload policy can be configured in the Management Console but I left it with the defaults. The policy is a rule which enabled you to control what type of data is centralized and which not. i.e. you could control that MP3 or video files are not going to be synchronized into the datacenter. The next option is the base layer configuration. The base layer is the first layer of a CVD which includes the operating system and the core applications. In my home lab I first wanted to just centralize desktop without assigning a base layer as I haven’t installed my reference machine with Windows 7 yet. I’ll do that later! Last step is the storage volume to store the CVD on. My server has only one volumes so this was a no-brainer.
After finishing the wizard you can see the client being transferred from the pending devices to the assigned devices node.
In that screenshot you can also see that the upload is initializing at the moment. This means that the Mirage Client is now kicking in. On that side you can see this:
After a while, depending on your network speed the whole desktop is available in the data center as a CVD. Quite easy! In my example the Windows XP installation had a total size of 2.3 GB which is not that much but there was only the plain operating system installed in my desktop. One of the most important functions of Mirage is the network optimization and the file and block based de-duplication. That means that if you’ve centralized your first Windows desktop, next time a client is being centralized, the server checks which part of the data is already available on the Mirage Server volumes and then only synchronizes the delta. Think about migrating a whole branch with 50 desktops. The network traffic will be reduced loads.
But centralizing the endpoint is only the first step. In my next article I’m going to setup the reference machine with a Windows 7 operating system and then create the base layer with it. Assigning this base layer to my Windows XP desktop means migrating it from one OS to the other. Mirage offers a few wizards which will handle all steps of the migration.
I hope this article has given you a great overview of the Client Installation and first centralization. If you have any questions please just comment on this article and I’ll come back to you as soon as possible.
Welcome back to the VMware Mirage Series here at That’s my View. In previous parts of this series I’ve described what home lab I’m using for my Mirage infrastructure and how to install the Mirage Management Server, Mirage Server and the Mirage Management Console. This time you’ll get a walkthrough of the Console. I’ll try to explain all main options available.
The common wizards page is an easy way to perform the most common tasks used in Mirage. From here you can deploy, manager, support and protect all Mirage endpoints. Here’s a list of all wizards.
- Centralize Endpoint
- Disaster Recovery
- Assign Base Layer
- Capture Base Layer
- Windows 7 Migration
- Base Layer Provisioning
- Hardware Migration
- Update App Layers
- Capture App Layer
This option migrates the content of an endpoint to the Mirage Server. The endpoint needs the Mirage Client to be installed. After completing the centralization the endpoint will be protected and managed by the Mirage System.
Here you can restore a Client Virtual Desktop (CVD) to the same or to a new endpoint i.e. in case of a hard drive failure.
Assign Base Layer
Assigning a base layer to a CVD or collection of CVD’s is done here. After validation the layer will be deployed to the selected endpoints over the network.
Capture Base Layer
Capturing a base layer means creating a template for the default content of an endpoint. This layer includes commonly the operating system, service packs, patches and the core applications i.e. VPN client or anti virus solution.
Windows 7 Migration
This options helps migrating an Windows XP endpoint to Windows 7 preserving all end user data.
Base Layer Provisioning
When provisioning a base layer to an endpoint you’re going to clean up the device for corporate usage. After applying the base layer the device will automatically migrate it’s content to the Mirage Server.
During the hardware migration a CVD can be migrated to a new virtual or physical endpoint.
Update App Layers
Editing and assigning app layers to endpoints connected to the Mirage System.
Capture App Layer
Capturing an app layer allows you to capture a set or a single application into a layer for deploying it to a large number of endpoints.
The Dashboard provides a monitoring functionality for the system status and the operations. In a few statistics you can see the system activities and alerts. Information to be found in the dashboard is:
- System Status
- Server Information
- Update Progress
- Data Protection Information
- Compliance Meter gauge
- Capacity Status Information
- Efficiency Benchmarks
The information is provided in form of gauges, graphs and tables.
As the name already says the Task Monitoring gives you an overview of all tasks performed by the Mirage System. In a list you can see all tasks i.e. Cature an app layer or Assign a layer and their status, device and progress.
The Inventory node gives you access to all CVD’s and Collections. From here you can access devices in all states (Assigned, Pending and Rejected)
The Image Composer node is the main point to manage the base and app layers. Within this node you can also manage the Reference CVD’s and rules for all layers.
The driver library is a repository where all drivers for the Mirage endpoints are managed in. An Administrator can manage hardware specific drives here which are stored outside the layers. With an import wizard it’s possible to import new drivers. If configured the system will inject the necessary drivers to all relevant endpoints. The Driver Library copies the drivers from the Mirage system to the endpoints which will then be detected by the Windows Plug and Play mechanism.
The Mirage Reporting helps you to create different reports for storage, device, layer or hardware information. A very powerful tool.
Access the event and transaction logs from here. You can find loads of transactions information here i.e.
- Centralize endpoint
- Upload incremental changes
- Update base layer
- Update App Layer
- Base Layer Caching
- Base Layer Verification
- Restore Prefetch
- Restore streaning
The node gives you also the option to search and filter.
User and Roles
Within the user and role management you can define which user can access which functionality within the Mirage System. You can granularly define the roles as Mirage supports dynamic role-based access control (RBAC). A role can be grated to one or more groups from the Active Directory.
The System Configuration gives you control of the Mirage Servers, Volumes and Branch Reflectors.
I hope this has given you a first impression of the scope of the VMware Mirage solution. This is surely a very powerful tool!
There are some great VMware Mirage videos available on Youtube. If you want to learn more about the Mirage use cases and technology you should watch these videos.
Yesterday I’ve published my first article in the VMware Mirage Series on That’s my View. If you haven’t read the article it might be the best to do so first as I’m explaining the reason for this series and some of the Mirage wording.
After installing the Windows Server 2008 R2 VM’s and the needed Windows patches (Windows Update with 147 Updates!!!) I was ready to go. First of course I’ve installed the VMware Tools to have the best possible user experience in my virtual machines. As I said yesterday you’ll need an Active Directory for the Mirage installation. That was what I did next. Configuring the first Windows Server as an Active Directory domain controller. I took some time to do the dcpromo so I had a read in the documentation again. I found an information that it might be useful to create a special group for Mirage Administrators so I did that. In the meantime I’ve started the second VM. Well, before starting the dcpromo I’ve created a copy of the Windows VM and ran sysprep on it to have a “Template” as Fusion does not support templates as vSphere with vCenter does. Anyway I’ve started the second VM and started the Mirage Management Server installation but the first message I got was that there is no .NET Framework in Version 3.5 present on my system. To be honest there was the hint about the .NET 3.5 in the documentation but I thought I could miss that one as I supposed that a Windows Server 2008 R2 with all updates would include that.
To enable the .NET 3.5 on a Windows Server 2008 R2 you need to add this specific role in the Windows Server Manager application. Choose features and you’ll find it. It will take some time for the installation as the role includes some features.
But as you can see in the next screenshot it helped. The setup started as expected. The setup for Mirage is straight forward and you need just a few information to run successfully through it. But it’s a good time to stop the setup again here as there is another requirement which should be fulfilled: A SQL Server should be available to create the Mirage database on and of course you need a user which has the permission to create a database. In my environment that wasn’t an issue at all as I’ve just used the Administrator account who has the correct permissions anyway. But bear in mind that in a production environment you should use dedicated accounts and NOT the standard administrator account to get a maximum of security.
In my home lab I’ve setup an SQL Express Server 2008 on the Mirage Server itself, but this is not recommended by VMware. Again – please setup the SQL Server on a dedicated system when using Mirage in production. For the setup you’ll need the SQL Server name, the instance name which is usually SQLEXPRESS for the edition I’ve used (but could also be different when someone changed the instance name during installation). As you can see in the next screenshot there are two other form field. A checkbox and a text box! Both are important. The checkbox must be checked if this is a new Mirage installation as the installer creates a new storage are for the Mirage Server. In case you’re installing only one Mirage Server as I did, you can add C:\MirageStorage i.e. to the text box as it will use the local hardisk drive for the storage. If you are installing a production environment with a Mirage cluster you’ll need to use a SMB/CIFS Share here. The Admin Guide gives you a good overview of everything what’s needed in that case. For example the share has to support Alternate Data Sreams.
Next step was adding an account which has enough permissions to run the Mirage Service. This account needs also permissions to communicate with the database so as I’ve mentioned before I’ve chosen the Administrator as this was the easiest way for me in my home lab. Don’t forget to add the Domain name in front of the username. As Administrators group I’ve created the MirageAdmins before and added the admin account to that group.
That roughly was the installation and I needed only a few Next, Next, Install clicks. But this was only the first step in the Mirage setup. The Management Server was only the controller for the Mirage Servers. Next step is now to setup the Mirage Server. Usually you install it on a different hardware but here I’ve installed it on the same machine as the Management Server. I’ll not go into details now as the installation is similar. In my case it wasn’t as I’ve installed it on the same machine. The installer detected that I’ve installed the Management Server before and wanted to do a Repair or Add Feature for Mirage. I’ve chosen Repair and the Mirage Server service was installed on the system.
Almost done! Next one was the management console. To save RAM on my iMac I’ve decided to run the Management Console on my Active Directory Controller. This was the easiest installation. Click, Click, Click, Done!
After installing the snap-in for the MMC the icon appeared on my desktop and I’ve started the Console.
At this time the Management Console wasn’t aware of the Mirage Management Server as it can’t know about it without an IP address. With a right-click on the VMware Mirage folder I’ve opened the context menu which gives the option Add System. Click on that and you can add the IP of the Mirage System – The Mirage Management Server.
Just for your information I’ve added the following screenshot which shows a Server Down status! Please be aware that if you connect successfully to the Management Server but there is no Mirage Server installed yet or not reachable by the Management Server, you’ll get that message. Another important point here is that you check the Network Requirement section in the admin guide. It will give you more information about open ports needed on your firewalls for the Mirage system to run properly. For a connection between the Management Server and the Management Console you need an open in/outbound port 8443 on your Management Server.
Doing it the right way you’ll see the system connected and you get the overview of all functionality in the tree menu.
That was easy so far! Ok, I’ve to say that I did it the easy way. It is important that you read the Admin Guide, especially the Requirements for the Mirage system. Without setting up the Firewall ports or software pre-requesits you won’t be successful. For me it’s know time to look deeper into the Mirage Console. In the next days I’ll come back to you with an first article about the options of the console.
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
The French blog (english language) www.vladan.fr has published a cool three article series about VMware Mirage. Learn how to install and setup Mirage and in the last article see how to migrate a Windows XP desktop to Windows 7.
Simon Long just published a new article on his Blog which will be interesting for the Mirage fans. Mirage is actually using a throttling technology which helps to reduce the network traffic produced during centralization of a client image. To speed up the centralization you can disable this functionality. Check Simon’s blog if you want to learn how it works.
By default Mirage enables bandwidth throttling. This can reduce the through-put between your desktops and your Mirage Servers to ensure you don’t saturate you WAN connections. However during Testing there is a good chance that all of your desktops are on the same LAN as the Mirage Servers. In which case you may not care if you use all of the bandwidth available, especially if it is going to mean less waiting around.
I’ve learned that a Windows Xp to Windows 7 Migration is tough for loads of customers as the tools they mostly use aren’t easy to work with. Check out this video about an In-Place migration of Windows XP to Windows 7 with VMware Mirage.
Today I’d like to share an interesting read with you which was written by my colleague Andreas Wilke, who’s a Technical Account Manager at VMware. Please note that the configuration mentioned in the article is currently not officially supported by VMware.
One major benefit of desktop virtualization is the central image management for all desktop clients that can be deployed in many different pools as a View master image for floating or dedicated pools. Inside a floating pool deployment our current recommendation is to use a ThinApp repository for your applications which are streamed over a low latency connection from a network share to the View clients. With that solution you will avoid installing applications to the master image and can use the same master image inside many pools with different set of applications in each pool.
The challenge in that scenario begins with the installation of applications inside the master image itself for applications that can’t be used with ThinApp or are hard to be packaged with it. Usually you don’t want to have the local installed applications inside each pool for each user or it can’t be installed with other applications due to incompatibility reasons.
When you start to install applications inside different master images of your View environment you will start to lose control of the central image management. You will need to install patches inside each master image individually. Inside a growing View environment it will be hard to manage all the additional master images. You have to start using a central image and application management tool for your master images (ex. SCCM).
With VMware Mirage there is one simple way to get back the control of all your master images inside your View environment. The only thing you have to do is to install the Mirage Client inside your master images and add them as CVD (Centralized Virtual Desktop) to an existing or new Mirage environment. Inside your Mirage environment you can create a new Base Image that will be used as a Reference CVD for all your master images. This can easily be done inside the Mirage management console. With this solution you can easily update only one reference machine with patches/installed applications and synchronize the changes to your View master images. The updated View master images can be used to recompose your existing floating pools.
There are two things you need to consider when you want to use this:
- You have to disable the Mirage Client deamon each time before you create a new snapshot of the master image so it will not run inside the deployed floating pools.
- If you are not using VMware View Persona Management our recommendation is to disable the Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider. This service is necessary for Wanova Mirage, so please active it if you update your master image and disable it before you deploy or recompose the new floating pools
That’s it. A easy integration of VMware Mirage with VMware View and floating pools. If you are already using an application management system for your application you can use it as well to manage your installed applications inside your View Master images and reference machine in combination with VMware Mirage.
A picture tells more than 1000 words…. So here you can see the combination of all products:
What do you think about this configuration? Please feel free to leave your comment.
Would you like to hear more about this solution?