VMware Mirage

Getting To Know the Mirage Tools

We know that the VMware Mirage product handles image management and application deployment to physical endpoints very well. But in the last few months, the Mirage team released some tools to make the Mirage administrator’s life a bit easier. This blog provides information about how to use these tools and how they can benefit your Mirage deployment. These tools are free and available to all Mirage users from the VMware download site (as shown in Figure 1).

Figure 1: VMware Mirage Tools, Download Product Window

Mirage Centralization Phase Estimator

The first tool to discuss is the Mirage Centralization Phase Estimator tool. In any Mirage project that includes a centralization phase, it is critical to properly plan the different phases of the project to ensure successful deployment of the complete solution. Several scenarios require centralization: backing up endpoints, migrating operating systems, and migrating hardware. Here we discuss backing up the endpoints.

Three main elements influence a centralization project:

  • Your storage and network resources
  • The number of endpoints you are working with
  • The time frame for the project

In addition, each of these three items interacts with the others. For example, the number of endpoints you need to centralize determines how long it takes to complete this phase, given fixed computing resources. On the other hand, you may want to define the project time frame and the number of endpoints in advance to find out what resources you need in terms of network bandwidth, storage capacity, and IOPS. The estimator can also tell you which resource might be a potential bottleneck.

In Figure 2, showing the Mirage Centralization Phase Estimator tool, in the light blue shaded area, you enter your environment characteristics. After you run the Estimator, in the light green shaded area you will see the predicted results: how long it will take to finish the centralization project, the number of centralizations per week, where the bottlenecks are, and so on. And in the grayed-out area to the right you see the basic assumptions and intermediate calculations.

Figure 2: Mirage Centralization Phase Estimator

One piece of advice: “Don’t try to boil the ocean.” In other words, do not try to fit all scenarios into one big scenario. Here is why…

VMware recommends running this tool against each user group that you have in your organization. This means you should organize your users into various categories. For example, one group could combine corporate users who are LAN-based, with task workers who are located at headquarters. These users have similar types of desktops and similar connectivity, and their user data type and size will probably be similar. Another group could be “road warriors,” people with laptops who connect only once in a while, combined with sales reps who are on the road. Again, these users would have similar types of PCs with the same type of connectivity patterns. Now you can run the tool against each group.

Then, if you are able, try to combine these categories of users into still larger groups, keeping in mind that users do not have to be a perfect fit to be in a group, just close enough to give you a clearly identifiable user segment. After you have done that, run the tool against that larger segment of the population.

From experience, we have seen much success using the Mirage Centralization Phase Estimator tool. It also provides accurate results about bandwidth consumption and the overall time it takes to complete centralization. You should be aware that in many centralization projects, storage arrays tend to be the bottlenecks in the process. The more accurate you are with your input, the better you can design your project plan and be successful.

We encourage any Mirage administrators performing centralization to consider this tool.

Branch Reflectors Reports

The next tool to discuss is the Mirage Branch Reflectors Reports. Branch reflectors download base layer images, application layers, driver files, and USMT files from the VMware Mirage server and make them available for transfer to peer Mirage clients on the remote or branch site. This means that clients do not need to download directly from the Mirage server cluster.

The Mirage Branch Reflectors Reports help Mirage administrators understand the condition of the endpoints, at any given time, within the organization. If you have a distributed environment and have leveraged branch reflectors (which you should do in any deployment with remote sites), it is important to know what is going on with them (how busy they are, how utilized they are, if resources are at their maximum already). The reports are in Report Definition Language (RDL) format and can easily be opened with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) or from the Mirage Web Manager.

Reporting Services is an advanced feature you can add to any SQL Server deployment by running the setup and adding Reporting Services. See the selected box in Figure 3. VMware strongly recommends you install SSRS on the same server as the Mirage database instance.

Figure 3: SQL Server Feature Selection Screen with the Reporting Services Check Box

You can retrieve the Advanced features installation from one of the following download links:

After installing Reporting Services, open the Reporting Services Configuration Manager to complete the configuration. See Figure 4.

Confirm that the service is running, then configure the following three items as shown in Figure 4:

  • Service Account with permissions to SQL Server
  • Web Service URL (default values are just suggestions; you can keep those if they work for your environment)
  • Report Manager URL

Figure 4: Reporting Services Configuration Manager Screen

After you complete the configuration of SSRS, return to the Mirage Web Manager and import the Branch Reflectors Reports. Under Reports, click Import, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Mirage Web Manager, Importing Reports Screen

The Import New Report window (Figure 6) appears. To find the RDL files, click Browse and select the RDL report. You will do this for each RDL report you want. When you have all the RDL reports you need, select each report (one at a time) and click Import to import the reports into the Mirage Web Manager.

Figure 6: Import New Report Window

After the reports are imported into the Mirage Web Manager, you can select any of them and click Generate Report.

Figure 7: Mirage Web Manager Showing Imported Reports

The Branch Reflectors Reports show you the coverage and status of each branch reflector across the organization. This helps the administrator plan the assignment of branch reflectors and monitor gaps in branch reflector coverage for branch offices or specific CVDs. The following are sample Branch Reflectors Reports outputs.

Figure 8: Report on Branch Reflectors by Site

Figure 9: Report on Branch Reflectors by Subnet

Note: The Branch Reflector CVD Status report provides two versions of the report. Figure 10 shows CVDs with no branch reflectors. These are CVDs that are not served by a branch reflector. Setting a branch reflector in the corresponding site or subnet resolves the problem. Figure 11 shows CVDs that have matching branch reflectors. The designated branch reflector at each site is indicated by the value True in the Is Branch Reflector column.

Figure 10: Report on CVDs with No Branch Reflectors

Figure 11: Report on CVDs with Branch Reflectors

No Backup Alerts Tool

The last tool to discuss is the No Backup Alerts tool, which is a command line tool. The No Backup Alerts tool helps the IT administrator monitor the backup status of CVDs. The tool sends an email message to the administrator, which contains a list of all of the CVDs that have not completed a backup within a given time. The tool can also send an email to individual users. These two tasks can be set by the following switches:

      • AdminMode: The base for the data protection built-in report. Emails the administrator a list of all endpoints that have not been backed up within a given period of time (TimeWithoutBackup).
      • UserMode: Sends emails to end users if they have not been backed up for a designated number of days (TimeWithoutBackup). As part of Mirage 5.4, end users can see when the last backup was by using the Mirage tray icon (the Data Protection tab).

For both modes you need to set MirageServer, SMTPServer, and the user credentials to access the SMTP server (SMTPUser and SMTPPassword). You can set many more options; enter the following command line to display help:


Figure 12: No Backup Alerts Tool

We hope you find these Mirage tools, the Mirage Centralization Phase Estimator, the Branch Reflectors Reports, and the No Backup Alerts tool, useful. Every Mirage administrator can benefit from using them because they help minimize the manual tasks in a Mirage deployment.

Be sure to watch for more tools from the Mirage team!

By Stephane Asselin with significant contributions from Yaniv Weinberg, research and development manager for VMware Mirage Product Engineering