Installing vCenter Server Heartbeat 6.4.6 (Part 1)

Protecting VMware vCenter

When it comes to protecting VMware vCenter you are limited to just two VMware supported options (from my understanding, if this is incorrect please let me know), using VMware High Availability (HA) or VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat. Now I know some might bring up the VMware KB article 1024051 “Supported VirtualCenter high availability options” that calls out using MSCS and VCS. But for me the kicker is this nugget information in the second paragraph:

VMware does not certify these third party solutions. VMware will offer best effort support for any issues encountered with an environment that uses third party solutions for protecting against VMware VirtualCenter downtime.

So you tell me, if your vCenter is down and you are using one the above mentioned clustering solutions do you want to do the vendor support fingering pointing while your management is asking you why is it down and how long it will take to bring it back up? Exactly.

What if VMware HA doesn’t provide the resiliency or up time you require for your vCenter implementation? What if vCenter needs to be treated as a “Tier 1” application? Enter vCenter Server Heartbeat (vCSHB going forward). vCSHB allows for the protection of vCenter, but also can be used to protect MS SQL as well several other VMware products (VMware Update Manager, Converter, Orchestrator, etc). vCSHB can be deployed to protect vCenter in two network configurations, LAN for local high availability (which is outlined in this guide), and WAN deployments for disaster recovery. Included with the network configuration options are the supported options on how you choose to run/protect vCenter. Available options are physical to physical, physical to virtual, and virtual to virtual (which is outlined in this guide).

For further reading and additional information on vCSHB view the links below:

VMware vCSHB product page

VMware vCSHB Administrators Guide

VMware vCSHB Installation Guide

VMware vCSHB Quick Start Guide

Now, onto the installation!

Creating the Primary Node

For this guide I am using the “Virtual to Virtual” pre-cloning process supported by vCSHB when both the primary and secondary will be running in a virtual machine. The primary system was configured as follows:

  • Virtual machine was built with 2 vCPU’s, 4GB of memory, and 2 NIC’s (each NIC on a separate vSwitch (and VLAN in my config) – pg 22 of the Installation Guide
  • Windows Server 2008R2 Enterprise with SP1 and latest patches
  • VMware Tools
  • Labeled one network interface as “Public” and the other as “VMware Channel”
  • On each interface clear the “Register this connection’s address in DNS” check box – pg 30 of the Installation Guide
  • List the Principal (Public) network adapter as the first adapter in the Network Connections Binding Order – pg 24 of the Installation Guide
  • Joined the server to my domain
  • Added a SQL service account (svc_sql) to the Local Administrators group – pg 29 of the Installation Guide
  • Installed SQL Server 2008 R2
  • Installed vCenter Server 5
  • Installed vCenter Update Manager 5 (configured using FQDN) – pg 20 of the Installation Guide
  • Set the following services to manual startup type – pg 30 of the Installation Guide:
    • VMware VirtualCenter Server
    • VMware vSphere Profile-Drive Storage
    • vCenter Inventory Service
    • VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices
  • Create vCSHB folder on root of C: and copied the vCSHB-v6-4-6643.exe file to it

After completing the above steps I powered down the VM and via the vSphere Client I created a clone of the VM to be used as the secondary node (appended Secondary to the VM name). Once the clone task had finished I powered on the primary node to being the vCSHB installation.

vCSHB Installation on Primary Node

Once the VM was powered on I logged onto the server with administrative credentials and launched the executable from the C:vCSHB folder I created:

 

After the package has been fully extracted the “Setup Type” screen will be displayed. Select “Install VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat” and click “Next”:

 

For “Physical Hardware Identity” select “Primary” and click “Next”:

 

On the licensing page, read the license agreement if you choose, select “I accept terms of the License Agreement” and click “Next”:

 

Now if this was a true install you can either “Add” or “Import” an existing license key:

 

Adding a license key if you have one

 

Since this is just a demo install there is nothing to add or import, just click “Next” to continue:

 

For the “Select Topology” page select “LAN” as we are only doing a HA environment on the local network:

 

On the “Deployment Option” screen select “Secondary Server is Virtual” and click “Next”:

 

For the “Installation Paths” if you don’t want use the default click the “Browse” button and choose a new path. Also choose whether or not to “Create icons on Desktop”. Click “Next” to continue:

 

On the “Channel Adapter Identification” screen select the interface labeled “VMware Channel” and click “Next”:

 

For the “VMware Channel IP Configuration” screen click “Add”:

 

Enter the IP addresses being used on both the Primary and Secondary nodes for the VMware Channel interface, click “OK”:

 

You will receive an error message stating that the setup is unable to communicate with the Secondary node. This is fine as we have not turned on the Secondary node. Click “No” to continue with the setup:

 

With the “VMware Channel IP’s” configured for both the Primary and Secondary nodes click “Next”:

 

On the “Public Adapter Identification” screen select “Public” and click “Next”:

 

For the “Public IP Address Configuration” click “Add”:

 

Select the correct IP address from the drop down, in my case 10.20.0.81. Click “OK”:

 

Leave the default “Use same IP addresses for Secondary (Recommended for HA secondary)” selected and click “Next”:

 

On the “Client Configuration” leave the default port at 52267 unless you have a need to change it. Click “Next”

 

For “Application Protection” in this demo we are protecting both vCenter and SQL Server. Select “Protect vCenter Server and SQL Server” and enter valid vCenter Login credentials. Click “Next” to continue:

 

On the “Pre-synchronization Data Configuration” screen, in the “Folder” dialog enter the full path to the vCSHB folder we created on the root of the C: drive. Note – Use the VMware Channel IP address as this is how the Secondary node will connect and import the configuration information during its setup. Click “Next” to continue:

 

The “Installation Summary” will be displayed. After reviewing the settings click “Next”:

 

If the “Pre-Install Checks” run successfully click “Next” to continue:

 

 

Once the “Install” has completed click “Next”:

 

Once the “Packet Filter Installation” has completed click “Next”

 

On the “Primary Installation Complete” screen click “Finish”

 

Once the installation has finished the “Server Configuration” window will open. Select the “Public” tab and set the “Public Identity Mode” to “Identical”. Click “Finish”:

 

At this point your Primary node is configured and ready to go. The next step is to build out the Secondary node which will be outlined in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!

-Jason