How VMware Mirage works for remote user management, VDI and migrations

VMware Mirage makes updating local and remote physical desktops more efficient. As part of the Horizon Suite, Mirage even enhances VMware View VDI.

VMware Mirage, a physical desktop management tool, is tasked with integrating physical desktops with virtual desktop infrastructures. It also can improve WAN efficiency and cut down on help desk tickets.

VMware was already a strong player in virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) for many years with its View tool and Horizon projects when it set sights on Mirage, Wanova's flagship product. In 2012, VMware acquired Wanova. In 2013, Mirage joined VMware View and VMware Horizon Workspace as the VMware Horizon Suite for end-user computing.

How Mirage works

Even in a View environment, not all users work on virtual VMware desktops. Enterprises still acquire and maintain physical desktops and laptops. Mirage offers stability to these end users and increases administration efficiency. It also supports VMware View VDI when the products are used together.

Mirage centrally manages desktop images, comprising the Windows OS, user data and user-installed applications. By separating the desktop image into distinct and independent layers, Mirage can update one layer of the user's desktop environment without affecting the others. This layer isolation allows desktop admins to easily perform company-wide upgrades, from Windows XP to Windows 7 for instance. Mirage won't migrate the users' profiles or data in the OS upgrade. Because Mirage cannot make any assumptions on application support for Windows 7, user-installed applications will not migrate to the new OS.

Any changes the end user makes to a physical desktop -- installing applications and updating data -- synchronize to a centralized Mirage server whenever the device can communicate with it. If the user loses a file or their entire device, the Mirage server can give them the backup image. End users can restore files easily and without opening a help desk ticket, thanks to Mirage's functionality built into the Windows GUI. Synchronization can also make hardware refresh cycles much easier on both IT teams and the end user, since the user's desktop environment can simply be restored, for lack of a better word, to the new hardware.

Mirage has a special feature targeting efficiency in desktop management for remote facilities. When a branch office requires physical desktop updates, only the first Mirage client there downloads updates that IT supplied to the Mirage server. Once these updates download, Mirage shares them all locally with the other clients in the remote office, a process that can drastically reduce WAN link usage.

VMware end-user computing bundle

Recognizing that View and Mirage complement each other in most end-user computing blueprints, VMware included both products, along with Workspace, in the new Horizon Suite. With a single SKU, VMware end-user computing adherents can purchase View to build and manage VDI, and Mirage to deploy and manage the physical desktop environment. Mirage can also manage the parent images View desktops use, giving IT one base OS install for both the physical and virtual end-user desktops.

This was first published in April 2013

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