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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Horizon Mirage 4.4: Game Changer for Mobile Workforce Backup and Recovery

John KramerBy John Kramer, Consultant at VMware

I am excited to share what I think is a game changing feature of the new release of Horizon Mirage: its ability to do remote backup and recovery in the cloud. This provides a huge boost in both ease of use and security of end user data on your corporate endpoints.

Previously, using Mirage off network required some form of VPN access to connect to the Mirage servers in the data center, but new enhancements mean that’s no longer the case. With Horizon Mirage 4.4, VMware introduces the Mirage Edge Gateway. Thanks to collaboration between the Mirage development team, the VMware Light House program, and VMware Professional Services, our behind-the-scenes efforts have brought this new feature to all Mirage customers with this release.

This new feature is something I have been asking product management to consider for a while now, as more and more people no longer use VPN to access corporate resources. It’s a pain to constantly log into VPN—a complaint I’ve heard often in my years supporting sales reps who say that the VPN just gets in the way of getting their jobs done.

How Does It Work?
The Mirage Edge Gateway sits in the DMZ of the enterprise network and allows a Mirage client to securely sync with the Mirage servers in the data center whenever a laptop has an active Internet connection.

Deployment is simple. The diagram below gives you an overview of how to put all the pieces together. Most companies have an external firewall and the Mirage Edge Gateway simply sits in the DMZ and proxies Mirage traffic back to the Mirage Cluster that sits on the corporate network.

Mirage Edge Implementation Architecture

There is one main difference between an on-network and off-network Mirage client connection: when off network, all Mirage traffic is directed to the Mirage Edge Gateway during which time the Mirage client will prompt the end user for credentials.

This added layer of security is based on Active Directory or LDAP credentials and a security token is granted for a specific amount of time that a network administrator determines. This means the end user could be prompted for a password once a week, twice a month, or whatever a security team deems appropriate.

Using a security token means end user credentials are not stored or cached and end users aren’t constantly bombarded with prompts for credentials to accomplish a Mirage sync. (I do recommend a longer timeout value versus a shorter timeout because you want to make sure the endpoints are backed up at the end of the day.)

Mirage on Site with Customers

A few customers recently told me that they have remote workers who rarely or never come into the office. In one particular customer’s case, a third of its workforce is completely mobile—meaning 4000 mobile end points. Before Mirage, those mobile workers said they would rather come into the office than log into the VPN.

This is why the Mirage Edge Gateway is such a genius solution. Not only does the Mirage solution allow remote users to protect the data on their endpoints, but also they don’t need to be at the office or on the VPN for backups to take place.

With the addition of the Mirage Edge gateway, Mirage can completely replace cloud-based backup solutions like CrashPlan, Mozy, and Carbonite, with the benefit of allowing IT to securely control the solution in the corporate data center

Commercial cloud-based backup solutions don’t typically offer the image management and layer management features that are included out of the box with Mirage. Furthermore, while Mirage secures mobile workforce data in your corporate data center, it allows both IT and end users flexibility when they need to recover data. For example end users can recover deleted files or previous versions of files directly from Windows Explorer by right clicking a file or folder.

Mirage Edge in Windows Explorer

 

Mirage also makes a great solution for migrating user data when it comes time for a lease refresh of old endpoints to new hardware. If you’re still running Windows XP, Mirage can help reduce the effort around a Windows 7 migration.

With its remote backup and recovery in the cloud, Mirage means ease of use for remote users and a more secure solution for IT. The only problem now is that those remote users may never head into the office.


John Kramer is a Consultant for VMware focusing on End-User-Computing (EUC) solutions. He works in the field providing real-world design guidance and hands-on implementation skills for VMware Horizon Mirage, Horizon View, and Horizon Workspace solutions for Fortune 500 businesses, government entities, and academics across the United States and Canada. Read more from John at his blog: www.eucpractice.com

New Technology Implementation Plan: Start by Stepping Back

Jeremy Carter headshotBy Jeremy Carter, VMware Senior Consultant

I’ve been working on a customer engagement recently that takes advantage of vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), which is designed to centralize and automate key IT activities, freeing the organization to focus on the needs of internal and external customers.

In our deployment of vCAC, I’ve been reminded of a key principal of IT and business transformation: The technology is only part of the process. Often a shift in technology requires a period of assessment and realignment that is as valuable as the technology itself.

When the VMware Professional Services team is brought in for an engagement, the company wants to get the best return on its investment, so the IT team is receptive to our schedule of meetings and stock-taking. But every IT organization will benefit by starting their new technology implementation plan by stepping back to survey the systems in place before integrating a new one.

We put a lot of emphasis on investigating how things are currently done, often starting by asking the teams to draw their processes, for creating a virtual machine, for instance. Frequently we find they have two or three different processes in place, depending on who’s making request. This is especially common in government and higher education, where each department is likely to have it’s own IT team and strategy.

The unfortunate fact is that automation still scares people, thinking they’re going to be out of a job. On the contrary, if you look at any IT organization out there, you’ll see that it’s overwhelmed with tasks, many of which are never getting done. Automation can give them time back to focus on what’s important to their customers.

A new implementation is a perfect opportunity to look at which processes are working the best and align all the teams to them. When a team sees that they’ll be able to provide a better experience and quicker turnaround, their resistance to automation often fades.

And luckily vCAC provides enough flexibility that users don’t have to adopt exactly the same systems across the organization. With a college I worked with recently, we were able to build on what teams are already doing. Next we focused on handoff systems to cut down on the number of emails flying around: one for DNS, another to install the OS, etc.

This process—of assessing current processes, building in automation and consistency, and then refocusing on customer needs—is undeniably valuable. But it does take time. It’s worth putting these reassessments on the calendar every 6 or 12 months; if that doesn’t work, I recommend taking the opportunity presented by the implementation of a new technology to keep moving toward the best your organization can be.


Jeremy Carter is a Senior Consultant with VMware and is focused on the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). He has special expertise in cloud infrastructure and automation, and BCDR. Over his 14 years in IT he has gained a variety of experience as an architect, DBA, and developer. Prior to joining VMware, Jeremy was a Principal Architect at one of the largest VMware service providers. 

 

Create a One-Click Cluster Capacity Dashboard Using vCOps

Sunny DuaBy Sunny Dua, Senior Technology Consultant at VMware

It’s easy to set up a cluster capacity dashboard in just one click and I’ll show you how to do it with vCenter Operations Manager Custom Dashboards. In this two-part blog series, I’ll guide you through steps to get this dashboard installed in your environment and explain how to create the interaction XML.

Let’s take a look at the final dashboard in the screenshot below, the problems it will solve, and its features. Then we’ll take a closer look at the process of designing this dashboard and the related customizations you can do. DuaOCCCD1
Here is a quick summary and the features of this dashboard:

  • The list of clusters in the environment being monitored in your Virtual Infrastructure (left pane).
  • Once you select a given cluster, you will see the Capacity Overview of the cluster (right scoreboard widget).
  • The scoreboard gives you the summary of the cluster, consolidation ratios, capacity remaining, waste, and stress data.
  • Each score’s color designates VMware configuration maximums. (For example, if the number of hosts comes out to 33, the box will turn red as vSphere 5.x currently supports a 32-node ESXi Cluster. You have the option to define these thresholds while creating the XML—I’ll share this in a moment.)
  • This dashboard can help CXOs get details about the capacity of each cluster with just a click of a button. It can also easily help them make procurement decisions.
  • Using this dashboard helps IT teams quickly decide which clusters can be used for any new Virtual Machine demand from the business, etc.
  • Finally, large service providers can use this dashboard to keep tabs on the resource utilization and available capacity.

Download Files

The beauty behind this customization is that I can export this dashboard right from my vCOps instance and import it into any vCOps instance with a few steps–and it will work like a charm. You can successfully reuse this dashboard in your vCOps instance, if you have the vCOps advance or Enterprise edition, which includes a custom UI.

Download the Cluster-XML.xml file below to see all of the metrics to display in the scorecard on the right as soon as a cluster is selected on the left pane. In part two of this series, I will tell you how to write this file. The Cluster-Capacity Dashboard.xml file is just a simple export of the dashboard from the Custom UI.

You can do the same for any dashboard that does not have any dependencies for resource IDs (unique identity number given by vCOps to each of its inventory object). You would take a two-step approach to use these files to achieve the final result.

Files to download:

Cluster-XML.xml

Cluster-Capacity Dashboard.xml

Step-by-Step Instructions to Place the Cluster-XML.xml in a Specific Location of UI VM

  1. Use an SCP software to login to the UI VM using the root credentials. I am using WinSCP.
    Change the directory to the following location: /usr/lib/vmware-vcops/tomcat-enterprise/webapps/vcops-custom/WEB-INF/classes/resources/reskndmetrics
  2. Drag and drop the Cluster-XML.xml file from your system where you downloaded it to this directory as shown in the screenshot below.DuaOCCCD2
  3. Right click the target file, and then click on Properties to change the permission level to 644 (for read and execute rights) as shown below.DuaOCCCD3

Now that you’ve finished the first set of steps, let’s go through the second set of instructions.

Step-by-Step Instructions: Import Cluster-Capacity Dashboard.xml Dashboard in vCOps Custom UI

  1. Log into vCOps Custom UI using an ID with administrative privileges.
  2. Click the Import Option under the Dashboard Tools menu.
    DuaOCCCD4
  3. Browse to the location where you saved the Cluster-Capacity Dashboard.xml and click Import.
    DuaOCCCD3
  4. You’ll now see a dialog box indicating that your dashboard was successfully imported. Close the window and click the Dashboards Menu to find a new dashboard named “CLUSTER-WISE CAPACITY OVERVIEW”
    DuaOCCCD6
  5. Click this and you will now have see the dashboard I displayed at beginning of this post. It’s that simple! :-)After importing the dashboard, if you do not see the names of your cluster in the Resources Widget, you must edit the “Resources” Widget -> Select “Cluster Compute Resource” in the left pane and click OK. This will list all your clusters.

Stay tuned for part two of this article where I’ll provide steps to help create your own .XML files to build additional dashboards. This is useful for those who want a single pane to view the entire capacity of a Virtual Infrastructure.

Additional Notes and Resources

Lior Kamrat, who like myself is a part of VMware Consulting group, has a list of great list of vCOps resources available on a dedicated page of his blog called IMALLVIRTUAL.COM. I would highly recommend you bookmark the page if you are using, learning about, or want to become an expert on vCenter Operations Manager. He also has a blog series on One Click Capacity Planning Dashboards with another angle on capacity in your Virtual Datacenter. In addition, you can review other articles on vCOps on vXpress.


This post originally appeared on Sunny Dua’s vXpress blog. Sunny is a Senior Technology Consultant for VMware’s Professional Services Organization, focused on India and SAARC countries. Follow Sunny on Twitter @sunny_dua.

Go for the Gold: See vSphere with Operations Management In Action

If there’s anything we’ve learned from watching the recent Winter Olympics, it’s that world-class athletes are focused, practice endless hours, and need to be both efficient and agile to win gold.

When it comes to data centers, what sets a world-class data center apart is the software. A software-defined data center (SDDC) provides the efficiency and agility for IT to meet exploding business expectations so your business can win gold.

The VMware exclusive seminar is here! Join us to learn about the latest in SDDC.

Now through March 19, VMware TechTalk Live is hosting free, interactive half-day workshops in 32 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Attendees will get to see a live demo of vSphere with Operations Management.

The workshops will also provide a detailed overview of the key components of the SDDC architecture, as well as results of VMware customer surveys explaining how the SDDC is actually being implemented today.

Check out the TechTalk Live event information to find the location closest to you and to reserve your spot.