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I am excited to announce two new walkthroughs for vCenter High availability on the VMware Feature Walkthroughs site! These two new click-by-click product walkthroughs will show you how to enable vCenter High Availability (also known as vCenter HA) and give you the confidence you need to use this exciting new feature in your own environment!

vCenter High Availability Overview

If you aren’t familiar with vCenter High Availability, it is a new feature introduced in vSphere 6.5 and exclusively available for the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). When vCenter HA is enabled, a three-node vCenter Server cluster (Active, Passive, and Witness nodes) is deployed. vCenter HA provides an RTO of about 5 minutes for vCenter Server greatly reducing the impact of host, hardware, and application failures with automatic failover between the Active and Passive nodes. vCenter HA is included with the vCenter Server Standard license which means that no additional licensing is required. vCenter HA can also be enabled, disabled, or destroyed at any time allowing customers to easily take advantage of this new capability. There is also a maintenance mode that prevents planned maintenance from causing an unwanted failover.

vCenter HA

From an architecture perspective, vCenter HA supports both embedded and external Platform Services Controllers. An embedded Platform Services Controller instance can be used when there are no other vCenter Server or Platform Services Controller instances within the single sign-on domain. In other words, an external Platform Services Controller instance is required when there are multiple vCenter Server instances in an Enhanced Linked Mode configuration. When using vCenter HA with an external Platform Services Controller deployment, an external load balancer is required to provide high availability to the Platform Services Controller instances. There is little bene t to using vCenter HA without also providing high availability at the Platform Services Controller layer. Supported load balancers for Platform Services Controller instances in vSphere 6.5 include VMware NSX®, F5 BIG-IP LTM, and Citrix NetScaler.

Deploying vCenter High Availability

I’ve created two new walkthroughs which will demonstrate the two ways in which vCenter HA can be deployed – Basic and Advanced.

The basic workflow can be used in most scenarios in which all vCenter HA nodes run within the same cluster. As its name suggests, this workflow is very simple and automatically creates the passive and witness nodes. It also creates VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (vSphere DRS) antiaffnity rules if vSphere DRS is enabled on the destination cluster and uses VMware vSphere Storage DRS for initial placement if enabled. Some flexibility is built into this workflow, so you can choose specific destination hosts, datastores, and networks for each node. This is a very simple, easy way to get a vCenter HA cluster up and running. A screenshot from the walkthrough is below.

vCenter HA BasicThe Advanced workflow is an alternative that can be used when the active, passive, and witness nodes are to be deployed to different clusters, vCenter Server instances, or even other data centers. This process requires the customer to manually clone the source vCenter Server instance for the passive and witness nodes and to then place those nodes in the chosen locations with the appropriate IP address settings. This is a more involved process, but it enables greater flexibility for those customers that require it. The following is a screenshot from the advanced workflow.

vCenter HA Advanced

It is important to note that both workflows result in the same vCenter HA functionality. We recommend that you use the basic workflow if possible.

The Basic walkthrough is available here.

The Advanced walkthrough is available here.

If you have feedback regarding either walkthrough feel free to leave it in the comments below. You can also find additional information regarding vCenter High Availability in the vSphere 6.5 Documentation. Thank you!

About the Author

Adam Eckerle

Adam Eckerle is a Senior Technical Marketing Architect and VCIX6-DCV working for VMware R&D in the Cloud Platform Business unit. In that role, he serves as a liaison between Product Management, Engineering, and VMware customers. His main responsibilities include creating content such as blog posts, whitepapers, videos, and VMUG presentations while also collecting product feedback from the VMware field and customers. That feedback is immensely important and helps shape VMware products and services. Adam is focused on vCenter Server, the vCenter Server Appliance, and the vSphere Web Client. Adam can be found on twitter via @eck79.