VMware vSphere Auto Start and HA clusters

I’ve just been reading through various VMware documentation as part of my VCAP-DCD5 study and I was going over HA specific configuration. It was here that I found a particular note that in all honesty did not realise until now…Auto Start of VM’s is not supported with an HA cluster!

I guess I can see why this is the case but it never occurred to me as the option was always available to me even when HA was configured.

It then prompted me to look for more information and came across a blog post written by Michael Webster: http://longwhiteclouds.com/2012/03/28/auto-start-breaks-in-5-0-update-1-not-just-free-vsphere-hypervisor-version/

It turns out that in the latest vSphere 5 update this is finally disabled in the GUI and cannot be configured when HA is enabled.

This is good to know as we have always had both configured particularly for power outage scenarios where we don’t want to rely on the manual startup of VM’s. We have over 30 sites and at particular times of the year full site outages are common. Also, as Michael has mentioned this could cause problems when using a Virtual SAN Appliance such as the HP P4000 VSA. These use local VM’s that present the hosts local disk as iSCSI storage to a cluster. If these did not automatically start when a host was powered on there would be no shared storage and as such no VM’s to power on.

I suppose with good process and procedure these sorts of situations can be dealt with but it is something to keep in mind particularly for remote sites where support is limited.

About Ben Loveday
My name is Ben Loveday and I am working as a Systems Architect in New Zealand. I have a keen interest in VMware products and are VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA and Microsoft MCITP certified. I am studying towards VCDX5 certification…I hope! My areas of focus are the virtualisation of manufacturing automation systems with the aim to improve traditional automation/SCADA system design and improve their availability and reliability. I am married with three kids and my hobbies include playing the guitar (less often than I’d like) and listening to music, mostly 80′s Metal and Rock/Blues :-) Oh..and I'm a PC gamer!

2 Responses to VMware vSphere Auto Start and HA clusters

  1. @vcdxnz001 says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great article and thanks for the mention. One thing to consider is the new HA/FDM Behavior in vSphere 5 will automatically restart every VM on a host that failed during a power outage. So this does somewhat mitigate the risk of not having auto start. HA now remembers which VM’s were powered off and which ones were powered on and need to be restarted. You can read about what happens in a complete failure scenario in my article vSphere 5 HA Complete Failure Experience – http://longwhiteclouds.com/2012/02/28/vsphere-5-ha-complete-failure-experience/

  2. djsdjs says:

    So maybe you have an idea on this. I have a vm I want to have come back up automatically, always. Its in HA and that’s all good except when there is a power outage and the ups gracefully shuts things down. HA sees its state as shutdown and it won’t start if there is a host still up and it won’t start when the power comes back on as of 5.0u1.

    I supposed I could hack together a script to check its state periodically and restart it if it is shutdown, but that seems inelegant with all this fancy ha hanging about.

    Am I missing a setting some where?

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