vCenter Server Heartbeat - VMworld Europe

Well even though the announcement was only today at VMWorld Europe 2009, the cat was let out of the bag, (not by me..but here here and here) so I will provide a bit of what I learned about the product from the webcast on February 10th. We were asked not to disclose anything until the announcement in VMWorld in Cannes.

Session will be at the upcoming VMworld in 2 weeks in Cannes - (DC10 - Chosing a Solution for vCenter Server Availability)

vCenter Server Heartbeat will be a High Availability Add-on that will allow you to keep your vCenter up and running at all times - a Fault tolerance (FT) solution if you wish for vCenter.

Q&A from the session follows but here are some highlights
  • GA - Sometime in March
  • Will protect one instance of vCenter Physical or Virtual.
  • Will protect the SQL instance that vCenter is using (be it on the vCenter server or a remote SQL server).
  • Does not work with Oracle
  • Will work over the WAN
  • Will come as an additional Application not a plugin
  • Estimated Price ~$10,000 per vCenter instance + SNS (Bundle of vCenter + Heartbeat - ~$13,000

Q: When does / did vCenter Server Heartbeat announce?
A: Annouced at VMworld Europe 2009 with early March GA

Q: Which critical Components of the Infrastructure will this protect?
A: vcenter heartbeat will provide complete protection of the vCenter Server, installed components and SQL server (local or remote)

Q: Will there be an acceleration kit upgrade or bundle with the acceleration kits?
A: an acceleration kit will be available at GA

Q: What about oracle, is this simply a SQL solution?
A: SQL is 95% of the vCenter Server Market

Q: vmware recommends running the virtualcenter server in a vm. i'm really not convinced about it....this may be not the focus os this vmlive, but could you please talk about running the vcenter in vm x physical server a little bit?
A: around 60% of vCenter license have been deployed on a physical machine where protection has been limited until now

Q: replication between product and disaster recovery site?
A: both LAN and WAN configurations are supported

Q: Support would include SRM ?
A: SRM is typically on a seperate server, however if installed locally protection can be achieved with vCenter Server Heartbeat

Q: is the failover instantaneuos?
A: The failover is automated and transparent

Q: Does this mean, vCenter running on Linux will not support vCenter Heartbeat
A: at this point in time, no support for Linux

Q: in passive, do we need a second licences for SQL Windos etc..?
A: second license required for Windows only, vCenter and SQL do not require additional licenses

Q: If I understand it will substitude HA?
A: no, its a point solution to protect vCenter Server only

Q: Is the failback a manual task or done automatically?
A: failback will default to manual but is a single click process

Q: what if the heatbeat fails, as is the synchronization process
A: the heartbeat process occurs when replication is idle

Q: (not sure if this was asked) Is this a plugin to vCenter or separate GUI
A: This is an addin to the vCenter server but not delivered as a plugin

Q: How will software updates made to the active vCenter Server be reflected on the secondary vCenter Server? Is it a manual process?
A: software updates will be delived as a manual process to the passive server (or alterntively the system can be switched to automate if necessary)

Q: This seems like a subset of what FT might be doing, but specific to vCenter, any huge benefit over one or the other? Was this based on what FT does?
A: 60% of vCenter licenses are deployed physically where FT will no be an option

Q: Is there a minimal version level of VC to implement this?
A: vCenter 2.5 and up including KL when released

Q: about oracle, not supported, but what would be the option, there is 5% of installations
A: you can select to protect vCenter only and use Oracle HA tools to protect the DB
Q: Which version of MS SQL is recommended?
A: MS SQL 2000 SP4 and higher is supported including SQL 2008

Q: If tools such as LCM or SRM are used. Will the Heartbeat be able to start them on the secondary vCenter ?
A: there is customization ability to add additional functionality

Q: If the Vcenter heatbeat is a tool of protection, how to interact with other backup tools? SRM.
A: vCenter Server availabilty is required for SRM and third party tools

Q: How does this compare to VMware running on a Stratus ftServer?
A: vCenter Server Heartbeat is a software solution providing protection from application and hardware failures. StratusFT provides hardware level protection

Q: what does this protect on the SQL only the one specific database ? If this on a remote SQL server?
A: the entire SQL environment on the one server, all databases and all instances

Q: Can the vCenter have option to have mutiple VCs managed to 1 DR server?
A: vCenter server can be utilised as many to one when the passives servers are virtualized. Each server requires a corresponding server (physical or virtual)

Q: Will this be managable trhough the VI client?
A: there will be a seperate client interface to manage but can be ran remotley

Q: If I have an active active datacenter running SRM with 2 copies of VC, do I need to purchase 2 copies of heartbeat to protect these sites?
A: two license will be required to complete

Q: Must the vc, SRM, etc databases reside on the VC server to be protected?
A: if the SRM database is on the same server this will be protected as well

Q: Is the purpose to become a general HA product for servers and applications both in and out of VI?
A: this is primarily geared at vCenter Server only to date

Q: "if the SRM database is on the same server this will be protected as well" So, you can only protect databses residing ON the VC server. The VC database cannot be on a consolidated SQL server? Thanks!
A: the entire SQL server will be protected whether local or remote

Q: so is there an ability to have mulitple active servers with one passive servers in a multiple VC environment.
A: each server requires a corresponding server, as the passives can be virtual and a many to one can be achieved

Q: Does the hearbeat monitor network usage and the type of traffic on the network; or just monitor for network availability?
A: the solution provides network connectivity checks, but does not get granular to the packet level