In the last part of my Hyper-V Cluster with Shared VHD series, I’ll cover the final setup of the new guest failover cluster.

Now that you've created the cluster, there are still a few things we need to do to finalize the setup. In the Failover Cluster Manager, expand the Storage section and click on Disks. Right-click on the larger Cluster Disk (in my case Cluster Disk 1) and choose Add to Cluster Shared Volumes.

Add to Cluster Shared Volumes

Add to Cluster Shared Volumes

After adding the disk as a Cluster Shared Volume, you can access it by going to C:\ClusterStorage\.

ClusterStorage

ClusterStorage

If you chose to add the second network for cluster communications, you can verify that configuration by going to the Networks section. When the cluster configuration ran, it should have configured the primary network as "Cluster and Client" which means that the cluster will use this network along with clients accessing the cluster. The secondary network should be configured as "Cluster Only" as a failover in the event that the cluster can't communicate over the primary network.

Cluster Only

Cluster Only

If you need to configure an IP address for the failover cluster, you can do so by clicking on the cluster name in the Failover Cluster Manager and scrolling down to the Cluster Core Resources section. Expand the server in the Server Name section, right-click on the IP Address, and choose Properties.

Configure an IP address for the failover cluster

Configure an IP address for the failover cluster

On the IP Address Properties screen, you can configure a static IP address.

Configure a static IP address

Configure a static IP address

Optional Hyper-V Configuration ^

Back on the Hyper-V Failover Cluster, you may want to configure a Preferred Owner for the VMs in your guest Failover Cluster. The main reason for doing this is to ensure that the nodes in your guest cluster don't all end up on the same Hyper-V node. Why is that bad? If all of the nodes of your guest cluster end up on the same Hyper-V server, the guest cluster will go down if the Hyper-V server goes down.

To do this, open the Failover Cluster Manager for your Hyper-V cluster and click on one of the virtual machines. On the right side, scroll down and click on Properties.

Cluster properties

Cluster properties

On the VM Properties screen, you can configure which Hyper-V server is the Preferred Owner for the VM. On the Failover tab, you can also configure whether or not the VM should failback to the Preferred Owner once the node becomes available again.

Cluster properties - General

Cluster properties - General

Cluster properties - Failover

Cluster properties - Failover

Shared VHD Limitations ^

First off, you still have to have some kind of back-end shared storage to form a Hyper-V failover cluster. Shared virtual hard disks just keep you from having to add additional complexity to your environment like opening up your storage network to your virtual machines. Yes, you can technically form a one-node Hyper-V cluster and back end it with a local iSCSI target for shared VHD's, but you're not going to get support and, honestly, you would run into major performance issues in a production environment.

Another new feature in Server 2012 R2 is the ability to hot-resize VHDX files. Unfortunately, shared VHDX files can't be hot-resized. You can, however, add additional shared VHDX files and add them as additional Cluster Shared Volumes. The shared VHDX also can't be storage live migrated or replicated using Hyper-V Replica. You also can’t use shared VHDX files to store live migrated or replicated using Hyper-V Replica.

Last, but certainly not least, backups will need to be performed inside the guest cluster. Unclustered VMs can be backed up at the Hyper-V level, but clustered VMs will have to have backup agents installed inside the VMs to perform backups. Most people are doing this already for item-level backups inside of VMs anyway. Thus it probably isn't a show stopper for anyone.

All in all, the shared Virtual Hard Disk feature is yet another reason to consider Hyper-V if you're using something else for your Private Cloud needs. If you are already using Hyper-V, add it to the list of compelling reasons to start planning your upgrade.

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