The BI can be used to deploy new desktops across the enterprise or automate the deployment of patches or applications. The concept is very much like Microsoft's sysprep process. For example, administrators can create a single BI and distribute it to multiple machines.
Companies that have dozens or hundreds of identical PCs can use a BI to deploy updates, patches, applications, drivers and so on across all machines. The BI is combined with other CVD layers to give the user a customized desktop that features all of their settings, data files and applications. The BI concept will prove to be a powerful tool when it comes to OS updates, such as a wholesale migration to Windows 7 in an enterprise.
A BI can be modified to create different versions. For instance, a BI could be created for a Hewlett-Packard desktop running Windows XP, then another version could be created that offers Windows XP SP2 and another version that includes Microsoft Office and so on. Those versions could be used to repair a damaged OS, roll back a PC to a working state or deploy patches and applications. That bodes well for those providing desktop support.
An interesting addendum to the CVD/BI/Layers approach is the case of a lost notebook computer. In this situation, a traveling executive loses his or her notebook PCânormally, this would be a monumental disaster. With Mirage, the remote worker could purchase a new notebook PC, install the Mirage client and then have his or her CVD streamed down to the new PC. The process works by the Mirage server identifying the minimal set of files that must be transferred to get the remote PC to boot (a significant subset of the amount of data in the full CVD). This allows the remote machine to be up and running in as little as 15 minutes, depending on bandwidth, of course. Once the PC boots, the user can begin working, while additional information and applications are streamed down to the system.
The same concept can be used for a hardware refresh, such as moving from one manufacturer's PC to another. The process would commence with simply replacing the BI and then downloading the CVD to the new hardware.
Mirage delivers further value to administrators by creating a complete inventory of managed machines, which includes details such as CPU, disk size and so on. The product also captures local machine logs, event logs and audit logs, allowing administrators to trace what has happened to troubleshoot machines.
The concept and components behind Mirage may take a little getting used to; the product's underpinnings are quite complex. However, that complexity is hidden from administrators, who now have only to worry about capturing desktop PCs and then using an intuitive dashboard to manage those PCs.
Perhaps it is better to think of Mirage as a platform for desktop management, which stores Windows desktops in a central location and then handles distributing those desktop images to endpoints. Admittedly, that is an oversimplification of what Mirage does, but it does establish the product's goal. To fully grasp what Mirage does, it takes a rethinking of desktop management and especially an understanding of what Mirage is not. Mirage is not a VDI nor is it a traditional system management/software distribution product. Mirage differs from those platforms in two important waysâit does not require a hypervisor and centralizes the desktop in the data center. Once I was able to differentiate between the Mirage way of doing things and other desktop management products, it became a bit easier to give Mirage a chance to prove what it can do in a busy enterprise, one where administrators have to manage and support dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of PCs.
For users, the management is not at all intrusive. The only difference a user will recognize is improved support and the elimination of manual backup and updating chores. Plus, users are able to personalize their PCs, install applications and retain those changes over time, even if the PCs must be re-imaged or replaced. Mirage proves to be a win-win solution for users and administrators, It is easy to deploy, sensitive to PC, network, server and storage resources, and doesn't require users to change the way they work.