Archive for the ‘VMware’ tag
Great article on storage optimization technologies for VMware from VMware Product Management. Learn more about VMware View Replica Tiering, View Storage Acceleration, View Composer API for Array Integration (VCAI) and space efficient virtual disks.
Properly designing and sizing storage is key to successfully deploying virtual desktops. Transitioning from pilot to production is completely dependent on getting both the storage design and sizing right. If you get this wrong- you will negatively affect user experience, application responsiveness and your cost per desktop.
So how do you get it right?
Well ultimately you will need to ensure that your VDI environment is designed to support adequate capacity and performance. Translating a physical laptop/desktop environment to a desktop VM typically requires about 40GB of storage capacity and 15 to 200 IOPS . In addition, the IO pattern is made up of steady state events during which it is dominated by small block random writes and highly correlated peak events which can be dominated by either reads or writes. These shifts complicate storage sizing and design for VDI.
A few days ago VMware announced the new vFast Track Reference Architecture. With several storage appliance vendors they’ve designed a cost-effective and scalable solution for VDI deployments. Yesterday VMware and Cisco announced a new joint bundling of there solution called Cisco UCS SmartPlay with VMware Horizon View.
New Discounted Bundles
The Cisco UCS and Horizon View SmartPlay bundle is a convenient single-SKU that combines Cisco UCS and VMware Horizon in an attractively discounted bundle. This SmartPlay Starter Configuration includes:
- (2) UCS 6248UP Fabric Interconnects
- (1) UCS Chassis w/ two 2208 FEX
- (1) UCS B200 M3 Management Blade
- (3) UCS B200 M3 Desktop Workload Blades
- (300) View licenses
Expansion Bundles for additional users, and upgrade options for server-based storage are also available.
To read the full article, please visit the VMware blog.
Before deploying Horizon Workspace ensure that you have a minimum of 6GB RAM and 32GB Storage available. You may need additional storage for the data appliance.
Create DNS Records
An IP address with reverse lookup (PTR) and a DNS entry must be available for each virtual appliance. I am using Microsoft DNS on my Windows 2008R2 Active Directory Controller in my lab. Create a new A records in your forward lookup zone for each virtual appliance.
Note: Mark the “Create associated pointer (PTR) record” to create a linked PTR record in your Reverse Lookup Zone.
Check you newly created DNS configuration using nslookup.
Note: DNS must be working properly, otherwise the configuration will fail !
Create Resource and IP Pool
Create a new Resource Pool using vSphere Client. If not already available, you need to create a new IP Pool. Ensure that your DNS configuration matches with the IP Pools properties.
Deploy Horizon Workspace
Horizon Workspace is OVA packaged as a multi-virtual machine vApp. It can be directly deployed to VMware vCenter. The vApp includes five virtual appliances.
1. configurator-va (Horizon Workspace Configurator virtual appliance)
- The initial configurations tasks are performed by the configurator-va. All configurations are distributed to the other virtual appliances in the vApp.
2. service-va (Horizon Workspace Manager virtual appliance)
- Provides the Web Interface to administer user, groups and resources.
3. connector-va (Horizon Workspace Connector virtual appliance)
- This va is responsible for user authentication, directory synchronization, ThinApp catalog loading and View pool synchronization
4. data-va (Horizon Workspace Data virtual appliance)
- This virtual appliance manages the 100% on premise solution for controlling user based files. Similar like Dropbox.
5. gateway-va (Horizon Workspace Gateway virtual appliance)
- Is the single endpoint for all end user communication.
In vSphere Client go to File > Deploy OVF Template and respond to the wizard prompts. Select Power On After Deployment at the end of the wizard.
Open the console of the configurator-va and follow the installation instructions. The configurator-va is verifying your network configuration. If your DNS and reverse lookup configuration is incorrect the installation will fail and you have to fix your DNS issues first. If anything went well you’ll get the following screen.
The wizard continues and you need to enter the following informations:
- Global Root password for all virtual appliances
- SMTP Server Name and Port (If you do not have SMTP in you lab you can specify any external SMTP Server for testing purposes)
- External Gateway Name and Port
- vCenter IP Address, Port, Admin User and Password
After the wizard has completed you will get the Success page with the URL of the Horizon Workspace Root CA. I suggest to download the PEM file with your favorite browser.
Congratulation ! You’ve finished the Part 1 of the Installation.
Mike Laverick has published a cool article on his blog www.mikelaverick.com about load balancing a VMware View environment with vCNS Edge Gateway. Again a great publishing! Check it if you want to learn from a pro.
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!
VMware has just published a new part of the VMware Horizon portfolio – VMware Horizon Mail. VMware Horizon Mail is a new native Android collaboration application that allows you to access corporate email, calendar, contacts and tasks. This application was previously available as a VMware fling. Now you can find it on Google Play. The app will be the default email/PIM client for VMware Horizon Mobile. Horizon Mail supports any Microsoft ActiveSync compliant email server and also the VMware Zimbra Collaboration Server.
These are the highlights:
- Comprehensive capabilities for Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks
- Best-in-market support for VMware Zimbra Collaboration Suite with features such as Briefcase, Saved Searches, etc.
- Clean, elegant but powerful user interface
- Create widgets to access email, contacts and calendar from home screen
- Conversation mode
- Comprehensive folder support with ability to automatically sync individual folders
- Local and server-based search
- Integrate with native PIM to view personal and “work” Contacts and Calendar together
- Support for ActiveSync policies such as PIN, etc.
- Support for certificate-based authentication and S/MIME for encrypted emails
- Enabled for multi-window capability on select devices
- GAL search
Image source: http://cto.vmware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/3.png
More details can be found at the VMware CTO Blog.
David Davis from TrainSignal has done a brilliant job coming up with these free VDI training videos. This is what I call community!
Start here – Intro to Desktop Virtualization
Lesson 1 – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Overview
Lesson 2 – What is Desktop Virtualization and VDI
Lesson 3 – Desktop Virtualization vs Terminal Services
Lesson 4 – Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization Solution
Lesson 5 – Citrix’s Desktop Virtualization Solutions
Lesson 6 – VMware’s Desktop Virtualization
Lesson 7 – Next steps in Desktop Virtualization
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.