Creating failover clusters in System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Before you will be able create a failover cluster from within System Center Virtual Machine Manager, there are a few prerequisites that must be met. First, the Hyper-V hosts that you are going to add to the cluster must all be running the same version of Windows Server. This article also assumes that the Hyper-V role is also installed on those servers, and that the hosts meet the basic requirements for failover clustering.

You should also make sure that the Hyper-V hosts belong to a common Active Directory domain. I’m pretty sure that this isn’t actually a Microsoft requirement, but I have found that the odds of success go way up if your Hyper-V hosts are domain joined.

The Hyper-V hosts will also need to be added to a host group within System Center Virtual Machine Manager. To do so, open the VMs and Services workspace, right click on your host group (or All Hosts), and select the Add Hyper-V Hosts and Clusters option from the shortcut menu. Incidentally, all of the hosts that you want to include in the cluster will need to belong to the same host group.

Clusters creation process

Once all of the basic requirements have been met, it’s time to create the Hyper-V cluster. To do so, go to the Fabric workspace within the Virtual Machine Manager console, and then choose the Hyper-V Cluster option from the Create menu. You can see this option in the screenshot below. You will also notice in the figure that I currently have four Hyper-V servers. I am going to base my cluster around three of these servers (Hyper-V-1, Hyper-V-2, and Hyper-V-3). The minimum requirement for a Hyper-V cluster is to use two hosts.

At this point, you will be prompted to enter a name for the cluster that you are creating. This screen also prompts you to choose a host group. You will need to choose the host group where the Hyper-V hosts that you want to cluster reside.

Click Next, and you will be taken to the wizard’s Resource Type screen. There are two things that you will need to do while you are on this screen. First, you will need to select a Virtual Machine Manager RunAs account. The RunAs account will need to have full administrative privileges in the domain that your Hyper-V hosts reside in.

Keep in mind that you can’t just select an administrative account from your domain. You will have to use a designated RunAs account. Notice in the screenshot below that the Select a RunAs dialog box includes an option to create a RunAs account.

The other thing that you will have to do is to choose the option to use existing servers running a Windows Server operating system. The other option on this dialog box allows you to provision bare metal computers. For the purpose of this article however, I will be using the Existing Servers option.

Click Next, and you will be taken to a screen that asks you to choose the Hyper-V hosts that you want to add to the cluster. Each host can only belong to one cluster, so hosts that are already assigned to a cluster are not listed (nor are hosts within a different host group).

Click Next and you will be taken to a screen asking you to select block storage that can be used as shared storage for the cluster. Your storage will either need to be listed within the Storage section of the VMM console’s Fabric workspace, or the storage will need to be attached to (and accessible to) the hosts that are being clustered. Incidentally, the Block Storage screen includes a Create Volume button that you can use to create a Cluster Shared volume on the cluster storage.

Click Next, and you will be prompted to provide an IP address to be used by the cluster. Just as each of the cluster nodes requires its own IP address, the cluster also requires an IP address. Once the cluster has been created, this IP address will be tied to the cluster name that you entered earlier.

After you provide an IP address, click Next, and you will be taken to a summary screen. Take a moment to make sure that the information shown on the summary screen is correct, and then click the Finish button. Upon doing so, the VMM console will open the Jobs window and the cluster creation process will begin. The cluster creation process takes a few minutes to complete, because the failover cluster feature has to be installed on each of the cluster nodes. While you wait, you can use the Jobs window to monitor the progress.

Creating failover clusters: Final points

While there is technically nothing wrong with continuing to create failover clusters from within the Failover Cluster Manager, there is definitely something to be said for being able to use fewer tools.

One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the act of creating a clustered Hyper-V deployment does not automatically make your Hyper-V virtual machines highly available. You will have to specify which VMs should be highly available.

You can accomplish this by right clicking on a virtual machine and choosing the Properties command from the shortcut menu. This causes VMM to display the virtual machine’s properties sheet. Select the virtual machine’s Hardware Configuration tab, and then scroll down to the Advanced section. Here you will find an Availability option. Select the Availability option, and then select the Make This Virtual Machine Highly Available check box. Click OK to complete the process.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Brien Posey

Brien Posey is a freelance technology author and speaker with over two decades of IT experience. Prior to going freelance, Brien was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also served as a network engineer for the United States Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition, Brien has worked as a network administrator for some of the largest insurance companies in America. To date, Brien has received Microsoft’s MVP award numerous times in categories including Windows Server, IIS, Exchange Server, and File Systems / Storage. You can visit Brien’s Website at:

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