VMware Mirage is Not only a backup product but has many more possibilities such as layered application management which can be pushed to the endpoints. If you need centralized data protection, including application protection, this series might be your interest. Also very interesting is Windows migration feature allowing IT admins to migrate from Windows XP, Vista, 7 to Windows 10 without manual tasks at the endpoint itself.
VMware Mirage divides OS, Applications and User data into different layers which can all be updated or restored individually and reduces the difficulty of maintaining a consistent corporate image on physical devices.
We’re working currently on small series of articles about VMware Mirage which will progress over time. The first article was published just recently and talks about the basics – What is VMware Mirage? Feel free to leave comments, remarks, or share your experience with our audience.
Before we actually start installing the different VMware Mirage components, I think it is important to enumerate them all and see what role each component plays within the architecture. Some of the components are pretty small or the feature activates with a checkbox (Branch reflector) but others can be clustered to form VMware Mirage cluster so their importance is crucial to prevent data corruption and ensure application availability and scale.
VMware Mirage Guide
This guide will be more less evolving over time. In the past, we have done some posts about VMware Mirage already, but it was like 2-3 years ago. It’s about time to do some refresh as the product has evolved quite a bit.
Server Installation and Configuration
- What is VMware Mirage?
- VMware Mirage Server Infrastructure – (This Post)
- VMware Mirage and Architecture Preparation Steps
- How To Install VMware Mirage Management Server, VMware Mirage File Portal, And Web Manager
- How To Install VMware Mirage Server
Image Management (through Mirage console)
- What is VMware Mirage Driver Library?
- How to Create a Reference CVD for Base Layer Capture
- How to Capture a VMware Mirage Base Layer?
- How to Capture an App Layer?
VMware Endpoint Management
- VMware Mirage Client Installation and Configuration
- How to backup a Desktop with VMware Mirage
- Create VMware Mirage Bootable USB Stick
- How to Provision a New Endpoint with VMware Mirage Base Layer?
- How to Apply a VMware Mirage App Layer?
- How to Enable Branch Reflector on a device or endpoint?
- How to Migrate Windows 7 to Windows 10 using VMware Mirage?
- How to restore Individual File for VMware Mirage Client system
VMware Mirage Management Server
VMware Mirage Management Server is placed in the heart of your data center. It is a central piece of the architecture which controls the whole Mirage cluster. Mirage Management Server is a Windows Server machine.
VMware recommends to Use at least two Mirage Management servers to avoid MongoDB corruption in case of the primary Mirage Management Server fails. On each Management Server, make sure you enable Windows defragmentation because heavily fragmented drives may cause corruption in Mirage Mongo database: Check https://kb.vmware.com/kb/2132742
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to clone the VM once the installation is done, but you can deploy 2 Windows VMs from a template, join them to a domain, name them accordingly, configure static networking, etc. But we’ll go through the necessary administrative tasks, including Mirage AD administrative account creation, in a separate post.
While right now only Windows server up to 2012R2 are supported platform, I think this will evolve in the next release of Mirage to support Windows Server 2016 as well. Concerning SQL server, the support of 2014 is supported and that what we’re using for this lab.
VMware Mirage Server
This is the actual “worker” which does the treatment. It does all the synchronization between the Mirage clients and the data center. It manages the storage and delivery of base layers, application layers, to the clients. It pulls the data for monitoring and management purposes. VMware Mirage server needs to be clustered for large scale deployments.
The performance of Mirage server affects the performance of Mirage so you should not install any other software which would take CPU power. Only Mirage should run on this machine. Mirage server can, however, be installed on a machine where is Mirage Management Server installed. (supported scenario). But the best practices says to install on separate VM or dedicated server.
Single Mirage server supports up to 1500 endpoints.
VMware Mirage Database
Contains information about the base and app layers, the driver library, CVDs in storage, endpoint configurations, and communication between the Mirage Management Server and Mirage servers. The SQL Server DB does not store the actual files but rather configurations about the endpoints.
For less than 5000 endpoints, you’ll be fine with SQL Express (no need to spend money on Full blown SQL server). SQL Express 2008R2, 2012 or 2014 are supported. I’d prefer the latest one.
Mongo DB Database
Used to store all end-users and layers files that are smaller than 64 kb to reduce IOPS and upload time. A MongoDB instance is installed with each Mirage Management Server. Install additional Mirage Management servers to avoid data loss. (If not you’ll get a nice red message after first connection to your Mirage Management Server. Mirage automatically replicates the MongoDB database to other Mirage Management Server instances.
Best practice: Always install a second Management Server with a separate MongoDB disk to eliminate single point of failure and prevent MongoDB corruption. MongoDB contains end users data and files that belong to all Mirage Layers. If you lose MongoDB, Mirage will stop working.
The best practices for the disk where Mongo database is located:
- A dedicated drive with no other files other than Mongo files (So no fragmentation occurs). Do not use the same drive for Mirage storage and MongoDB database files.
- A high performance, reliable drive on SAN or a local disk with low latency and no disconnects. We estimate 300 IOPS, mostly write focused are needed. This translates to roughly 1000 IOPS on a local RAID 5 array.
VMware Mirage Web Management Server
This is a web based application which runs on Microsoft IIS. When Installing IIS, the set of components has to be chosen carefully as if you forgot some sub-component of IIS, the installer will quit asking you to install that particular component. We will list all the required components in the detailed post.
We will install it along with Mirage Management Server. We will list all the required components in the detailed post.
Administrators with a help-desk role can use this Web-based portal to resolve endpoint issues.
It has a nice web UI which gets better with every release…
Note: Traditional Mirage Management Console (still present within the Installation bits) has been phased out and it is no longer supported.
VMware Mirage File Portal (Optional)
VMware Mirage has a nice-to-have component allowing to configure self-restore of individual files for end users. The admin can put in place this portal to allow users to restore their deleted files by themselves. It basically maintains an Archive of historical snapshots of user files and folders. Users can access this read-only data from any device via a simple Web browser.
We will install this component on our Mirage Management Server too.
VMware Mirage Edge Gateway (optional)
It is usually deployed in the DMZ and allows to secure the communications between users and Mirage servers without the need of VPN. We won’t be using it in our guide.
What’s needed? Which components?
It depends on your deployment. If you simply do a POC you can do an “All-in-One” deployment where you install all the VMware Mirage components to a single VM. If your organization has more clients/workers, than you should separate the roles and be able to scale.
Storage for Mirage deployment – General recommendations
Make sure the Storage Array can deliver the required IOPS. Mirage needs:
- 1.2 IOPS per endpoint during steady state operation (or incremental upload)
- +- 150 IOPS per endpoint during Migration, Base Layer or App Layer operations.
Branch Reflectors can also be implemented on the main site to reduce the workload on the Storage Array during Migration, Base Layer or App Layer operations.
For example, you will need a Storage Array that can deliver 26 000 IOPS if you either need to centralize 160 new endpoints per day or if you have 17 000 endpoints that perform regular steady state upload.
An example of deployment would be (separate VMs/server):
- SQL database server (1 VM)
- File Server (1 VM)
- Two Mirage Management servers (2 VMs)
- Mirage Server (1 VM)
Overview of architecture (Thanks to Didier Danloy – VMware)
VMware Mirage Licensing and pricing
VMware Mirage has a simple licensing system. You can buy it either as:
- Standalone VMware Mirage product
- Horizon View Advanced or Horizon Enterprise. (ex. 100 licenses of Horizon Advanced entitles you for 100 Mirage Users)
VMware Mirage standalone sells in a package of 10 licenses. (or 100 licenses). So if you buy 1 copy and it allows you to manage 10 endpoints.
There is an option only to license the Windows migration feature. In this case, you’re buying a 6-month term license focused on subscription.
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