A list of some VMware Mirage use cases

If you are not familiar with VMware Mirage or you were just wondering what could I use this new application for, I will try and fill in the blanks for you. I was pretty excited when VMware announced that they purchased Wanova and the Mirage product. I think Mirage along with the upcoming Horizon Suite round out the VMware EUC story nicely. Both of the new products take VMware from just being a VDI focused offering to a complete EUC offering.

So what is this Mirage thing? I’ve included the description below from VMware.

With VMware Mirage, IT can centrally manage physical desktops and laptops remotely while their end users continue to leverage all of the local power of those devices. When IT has all of these endpoints centralized, they can perform remote disaster recovery, hardware refreshes, Windows 7 migrations, and single image management. Mirage offers the benefits of centralization and VDI manageability coupled with the power of local execution and persistent end-user personalization.

Here are a few of the most common user cases for VMware Mirage that I find myself talking to customers about on a regular basis. There are probably a few more that I will update as I think of them. If you have an idea drop a note in the comments.

  • Physical Desktops / Laptops
  • Alternate to View Local Mode
  • Re-purposed endpoint management
  • Upgrade Windows version ( Example: Windows XP to Windows 7)

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Building new whitebox servers for VMware home lab

I have needed to get some more capacity added to the home lab for a while now, but have taken my time. I have been gathering up enterprise servers that are a couple of generations old in the past. These have always done me well but have limited amount of memory in them and upgrading them was pretty expensive, not to mention they are very loud. So I decided to go another direction and build a couple of whitebox servers based on common desktop parts. I’ve been watching for sales and collecting the parts to build them. After finding a couple of good deals lately I finally had all the parts need to build two hosts.

Another thing that I had to make a decision on was if I needed a server class motherboard or would a desktop one work. After thinking about it I came to the decision that a desktop motherboard would work just fine and probably save me a few dollars in the build cost. I almost never use the out of band management access to the enterprise servers that I had at this point and since they are just down in the basement, I can easily run down and access them if needed.

I also did not need the ability to use VT-d so a server board was even less important. I simple needed hosts with good power and more RAM. It really comes down to memory for me, I needed the ability to run more VMs so that I don’t have to turn things on and off.

The Why:

This type of lab is important to me for personal learning and testing out configurations for the customer designs that I work on during the days. I have access to a sweet lab at work but it’s just better to have your own lab that you are free to do what you want, and my poor bandwidth at the house makes remote access kind of poor.

I want the ability to run a View environment, vCloud suite and my various other tools all at once. With these new hosts I will be able to dedicate one of my older servers as the management host and a pair of the older servers as hosts for VMware View. This will leave the two new hosts to run vCloud suite and other tools on.

The How:

I have set the hosts up to boot from the USB sticks and plan to use part of the 60GB SSD drives for host cache. The remaining disk space will be used for VMs. Each host will have 32GB of RAM, this is the max that the motherboard will support with its 4 slots. There is an onboard 1GB network connection that is a Realtek 8111E according to the specs. I can report that after loading vSphere 5.1 the network card was recognized and worked without issue. I had a couple of gigabit network cards laying around that I installed for a second connection in each of the hosts.

The case came with a fan included, but I added another for better cooling and air flow. Even with multiple fans running the hosts are very quiet since there are no spinning disks in them and put out very little heat. I could have probably reduced the noise and heat a bit more by choosing a fan less power supply but they are over $100 and was not a priority for me.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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Some security questions around VMware View and VDI

After working on a bunch or larger VDI projects last year there was usually several conversations with the security teams of these enterprises that don’t seem to get much press in the VDI world. Lets face it, VDI is new for most of us but it is a total shift for your security team to wrap their heads around this new portable desktop idea. In today’s world the security team is used to their being a hard drive in a PC that captures the activities of the employee for the life of that computer. So if some event takes place and they need to investigate or do forensics on the PC all is there, even if someone tried to cover their tracks.

So the default response of these security team members when you talk VDI and ask what do they need kept from a Windows desktop to be able to do their work? Is they need everything!! Well that does not mesh up with the idea of linked clones, floating pools and the idea of a layered desktop image.

When VDI is done right you are separating the images into layers that include the operating system, applications and user profiles. These layers are then presented back to a user upon login and looks like a personalized desktop for them. But with this method the actual operating system (OS) is some what disposable, meaning that you are reading from a master copy or golden image that is read only. This golden image is shared by all of the users and allows for the desktop to be refreshed at each logoff or on a regular basis keeping the desktops clean. This also allows for easy patching of your virtual desktops, but that is enough of a VDI lesson.

The really fun conversations happen with security when they find out that desktops are created and destroyed automatically and things like page files and temp folders that they are used to have around for the lifetime of the PC are being trashed and recreated on a regular basis. But if you work closely with your security team and find out how their tools work and what parts of an OS or user profile need to be preserved a plan can be formulated and factored in when creating your VDI design.

There are other factors and processes that security is concerned about besides forensics. They will need to adapt the process that cover what is done when an employee is let go for example. Since there is not a desktop that can be held until the process is complete, you will need a method to freeze their VM in time and not allow it to be used by others.

These are all very important conversations and processes to be considered when creating your enterprise virtual desktop design. Make sure to include all necessary teams that will have a stake in your new environment and invite the security team to the table earlier rather than at the last minute. I know nobody likes to talk to those security guys but addressing their questions and concerns earlier will prevent them from putting the breaks on your project in the final stages, until you are able to adapt and meet their demands.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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VMware Service Manager as a front end portal to VMware View sugguestion

Something that I get asked about often when working with customers on their VDI designs is a portal to request virtual desktops. Much like “The Cloud” IT organization seeking more automation when it comes to virtual desktop environments. All the major vendors are adding automation around the creation of the desktops within the pools of desktops and have been for some time now. But the business people that are consuming the virtual desktops want a portal or store that they can go to check out or request a desktop.

To give an example a marketing manager hires 3 new people and needs to have them added to the VDI environment. There may be forms to fill out to request or maybe its a ticket that needs to be submitted to request the desktops. But it would be much simpler if he could go to a web portal and fill in the new user details and make a couple of selections from options provided and BANG! a few minutes later he gets an email saying the desktops are ready and this is how his people can connect to them.

Now I don’t think this is that far off of an idea and with VMware already having the right tools to make this happen. I think that with a little hard work and the use of VMware Service Manager something like this could be created. Now some of you might have not heard of Service Manager (SM) before or maybe you’ve heard the name but don’t understand what it does. It seems like SM is a bit like Orchestrator in that people have heard the name but no one is using it. If you search the web there are almost no blog post written about SM and very few videos about SM even by VMware.

As of today I’m not sure if this would be possible in the current version of Service Manager or if it would require VMware to add this as a new feature. But it would be a good selling point for a misunderstood product that is not much different than a Unicorn right now. As of today SM has replaced VMware Request Manager as the tool used to provide VM request management for vCloud designs. So if a user wants request management in their VMware cloud they need to use SM. So this is right in the same ballpark and would be a big competitive advantage that Citrix is not offering right now.

I plan to try and setup SM in my lab soon and see if this is possible with the current version and provide any feedback on whether I was successful or not.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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First look at new VMware View Client with PCoIP for Linux

Recently VMware released a preview copy of the new View 5 client for Linux that now supports PCoIP. This has been a long time coming, along with the Linux version the Apple version now includes PCoIP support also. I don’t plan on boring you with the install details as most of you are probably more advanced at installing applications on Linux then I am.

To start off after open the View Client you will see a screen that looks like the one below in Image 1. Looks pretty much like all other View Clients, you enter the View Connection Server URL and connect.

Linux VMware View Client PCoIP

Image 1

Once you have tried to connect to the connection server you will be prompted for your login credentials as shown in Image 2 below. The screen shows you what connection server URL you are trying to connect to, mine is blocked out in the image. You can also see to the left of the server URL a warning sign with an unlocked paddle is shown, this is letting me know there is not Certs installed on my connection server. Other than those items its user name, password and domain.

Linux VMware View Client PCoIP

Image 2

Now that we have authenticated we are presented with a list of pools within View that our user ID is entitled to as show in Image 3 below.

Image 3

On Image 4 below you can see that I’ve clicked on the “All Monitors” option that shows me what options I have for monitors and screen sizes for my View Client window.

Image 4

The next option to look at was the display protocol, you can see in the previous image that PCoIP was the default protocol for the pool. In Image 5 below I click on PCoIP and was presented with the option to choose between PCoIP and RDP. This was because this action is allowed on the pool that I was trying to connect to.

Image 5

The final step was to click on the Pool name and I was connected to my View desktop. This is the first I have really had the time to test the Linux View client. I’m pretty happy with what I saw and adding PCoIP support to the Linux platform client is a pretty big deal. In my opinion this gives companies another option of what OS they can now place on their PC endpoints if they do not want to pay for a Windows License. Of course the licensing question is much large depending on if you pay for SA or you purchased a license with the endpoint. But there are plenty of companies out there that could benefit from this approach.

 

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design

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