How to Successfully Create a Hyper-V Cluster Using Virtual Machine Manager (Part 1)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

There are several ways to create a Hyper-V cluster. You can use the traditional approach, which is to install the Windows Failover clustering feature locally on Hyper-V nodes and then follow the on-screen steps in Failover Cluster Manager to create the Hyper-V cluster. The other methods are using the Failover clustering PowerShell Cmdlets and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012. Starting with SCVMM 2012, a new feature was introduced to help build Hyper-V cluster with a few clicks via the VMM console. It is necessary that a highly available environment is deployed to ensure that the VMs running on Hyper-V hosts can be live migrated to other Hyper-V hosts which are part of a failover cluster. As a manual process, you need to perform several steps to build a Hyper-V cluster as outlined below:

  1. Install failover clustering feature on all Hyper-V nodes using the Server Manager. You can also use the PowerShell script to install the failover clustering feature on all Hyper-V nodes, but you must have experience working with the PowerShell scripts.
  2. Connect to your shared storage and present the LUNs to all of the Hyper-V nodes manually. Apart from presenting the LUNs, you will also need to initialize, format the disks and then assign the drive letters.
  3. Create the cluster on the first node by opening the Failover Cluster Manager and then adding the additional nodes to the cluster.
  4. Validate the cluster to make sure the cluster configuration is supported by the Microsoft PSS Team.
  5. Configure the cluster quorum settings. In most cases, the quorum settings are configured automatically depending on the number of Hyper-V nodes in the cluster.
  6. Next, you need to add shared storage to the CSV (Clustered Shared Volume).
  7. Finally, add the virtual machines to the Hyper-V cluster.

Performing the above steps manually might take a considerable amount of time if you plan to deploy hundreds of Hyper-V cluster in your production environment. Once you have deployed the Hyper-V cluster manually, you also need to add them to the VMM if you need the VMM to manage the Hyper-V clusters. The VMM performs all of the required steps automatically on the Hyper-V hosts. Once a Hyper-V cluster is created using the VMM console, the Hyper-V cluster and its nodes are managed by the VMM.

Recently, I was assigned with a task for a customer to build a Hyper-V cluster, which includes 8 Hyper-V nodes. I undoubtedly took some help from the Microsoft VMM documentation to build the Hyper-V cluster, however the documentation does not clearly specify how a Hyper-V cluster can be successfully built by keeping the various requirements and configurations in mind. For example, the Microsoft VMM documentation does not highlight that the physical network adapters of the Hyper-V nodes must be available for placement. Similarly, the Microsoft documentation also does not provide instructions to configure the TCP/IP property on all of the Hyper-V hosts, which are going to participate in a Hyper-V cluster. You might not see the IP Address page to specify the cluster IP address, which is shown during the Hyper-V cluster creation via the VMM, if the TCP/IP settings are incorrect. I have written this article series to help you understand the various configuration requirements before you start building the Hyper-V cluster via the VMM. We are going to use the SCVMM 2012 R2 to build a two node Hyper-V cluster.

We are going to touch upon the following topics throughout this article series:

  • Hyper-V hosts and VMM Host group requirements
  • Hyper-V cluster shared storage requirements
  • Hyper-V hosts networking requirements
  • How to create the Hyper-V cluster using the VMM
  • How it works
  • Adding the Virtual Machines to the Hyper-V cluster via the VMM

There are several requirements to keep in mind before successfully creating a Hyper-V cluster via the VMM. For example, before you start building the Hyper-V cluster from the VMM console, you will need to make sure that the Fabrics have been configured properly including the Hyper-V hosts, VMM Host groups, shared storage and hosts networking. In the first part of this article series, I am going to walk you through the necessary steps to configure the Hyper-V hosts and the VMM Host groups. In the next and subsequent parts of this article series, we will learn how to configure your storage and networking, and then follow a step-by-step guide to successfully create the Hyper-V cluster.

Hyper-V Hosts and VMM Host Group Requirements

VMM Host Group: You must create a VMM Host group in the SCVMM. The VMM Host group is an administrative unit, which is required before you start creating the Hyper-V cluster. VMM Host group is required to allocate shared storage logical units if you need the VMM to assign shared storage to the Hyper-V nodes. VMM looks for available logical units to be assigned during the Hyper-V cluster creation process on the the VMM Host group’s property. If a VMM Host group has not been assigned with the logical units, the Hyper-V cluster creation wizard will not display the shared storage. I will talk more about this later when we explain the shared storage requirements.

Two or more Hyper-V Hosts: Hyper-V Hosts, which are going to be part of a Hyper-V cluster, must be added to the VMM and they must also be part of the same VMM Host group. For example, if you have two Hyper-V hosts named Hyper-VHost1 and Hyper-VHost2 and one VMM Host group named “Building2”, these Hyper-V hosts must be moved to the “Building2” VMM Host group. VMM does not provide a feature to cluster the Hyper-V hosts, which are located in a different VMM Host group. As you can see in the below screenshot, I have created a parent host group named “Dallas” and a child VMM Host group “Building2” where all of my Hyper-V hosts are located.

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Figure 1

Other than creating a VMM Host group and moving the Hyper-V hosts to the VMM Host group, you will also need to keep the following points in mind before proceeding with the cluster creation via the VMM:

  • Install Failover Clustering feature (optional): The Hyper-V hosts can already be installed with the Failover Clustering feature. VMM skips the Failover clustering feature installation if it is already installed on the Hyper-V hosts. I have seen the cluster creation fails with an error “Error (25300) Cluster validation failed because of error: The server ‘Server_Name’ does not have the Failover Clustering feature installed. Use Server Manager to install the feature on this server”. If that is case, please make sure to install the Failover clustering feature in advance on the required Hyper-V hosts.
  • Hyper-V hosts must be running a supported version of the Windows operating system. If you want to cluster the Hyper-V hosts running the Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system, please make sure that you are running VMM 2012 R2 on a Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system.
  • If you want to cluster the Hyper-V hosts running on the Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1, please install the hotfix explained in this Microsoft KB.
  • The Hyper-V nodes must also be part of the same domain. This is the standard requirement of the Failover clustering. Clustering is not supported for the nodes, which are in different domains. Apart from joining the Hyper-V nodes to the same domain, please follow the other requirements of the Failover cluster, which can be found at the Microsoft site.
  • Enable Multipath /IO (Mandatory): To be able to access the shared storage via the VMM, the Multipath I/O (MPIO) feature must be installed on each Hyper-V host using the Server Manager. SCVMM does not automatically add the MPIO feature when you add the Hyper-V host to the VMM. VMM will show a warning message in the Jobs window when adding a Hyper-V host to the VMM host group if the Multipath I/O feature is not installed.
  • Install Microsoft iSCSI Initiator (Optional): If you are using iSCSI SAN as your shared storage, please make sure the Microsoft iSCSI initiator service is installed and running on each Hyper-V host, which is going to be a part of the cluster. It is imperative to note that the Microsoft iSCSI initiator service is used by the VMM to configure the shared storage on the Hyper-V nodes automatically during the cluster creation process. There is no need to discover iSCSI portals on each Hyper-V node if you are using the SCVMM-managed shared storage. You can also discover and attach shared storage to all of the Hyper-V nodes manually. If you have done so, the VMM cluster creation wizard will automatically configure your shared storage to the failover cluster.

Summary

In the first part of this article series, we learned about the various requirements of the Hyper-V host and the VMM Host groups before the Hyper-V Cluster Creation wizard can be invoked to create a cluster via the VMM. The VMM requires the Hyper-V hosts to be part of the same VMM Host group, and there are other requirements, which have been highlighted in this article.

In Part II of this article series, we are going to learn how to configure shared storage and networking for the Hyper-V hosts, which will help create a Hyper-V cluster successfully.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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