VMware vSphere 6.5 – How To Enable Native vCenter High Availability

Native vCenter High Availability – I wanted to explore this feature since vSphere 6.5 was announced in VMworld Europe this year. With VMware announcing general availability of vSPhere 6.5 I was able to setup test environment in my lab and I am very exited about implementing the same in production at later point. Traditionally there was no out of the box solution available for vCenter high availability but there were other solutions to provide high availability to vCenter services such as vSphere HA, vSphere Fault Tolerence, Microsoft Clustering and now retired vCenter Server Heartbeat. With the new release VMware provides Native High Availability for vCenter Servers, as of now this feature is available only for vCSA based deployments. The new VCHA architecture is made of three node cluster. Active, Passive and a Witness node. Passive is full clone of the original Active node, witness node is clone of the original Active node. Witness node will never become Active in event of failure. Prerequisites to setup VCHA is fully functional DRS/HA cluster with minimum of 2-3 nodes. Continuous file level replication takes place between active and passive nodes using Linux RSYNC which keeps all the configurations and services state in sync. Native Native vPostgres DB replication will handle replication of VCDB and VUMDB. 

First I will demonstrate how to deploy vCSA 6.5 beofre we go into enabling Native high availability. vCSA deployment is now two step process (In previous versions, vCenter appliance deployment would fail if any typo). In step 1 UI installer deploys the appliance and followed by configuration of the appliance setup in step 2 (IP Address, Hostname, DNS, SSO etc). You can still deploy appliance like previous version in step 1 and configure the appliance at later point by accessing vCenter Server Appliance Manager Interface.

  1. Mount the installation media and launch the installer.new-bitmap-image

2. Click on Install to start the UI Installer.new-bitmap-image

3. Click on Next to start the appliance deployment.untitled1

4. Accept the EULA and click Next.untitled2

5. Select the Embedded deployment option and click Next.untitled3

6. Enter the ESXi server details to deploy the appliance and click Next.untitled4

7. Accept ESXi certificate and click Next.untitled5

8. Enter the appliance name and new root password and click Next to continue.untitled6

9. Select the deployment size and click Next.untitled7

10. Select the datastore and click Next to continue.untitled8

11. Select the network, IP and FQDN for the appliance and click Next.untitled9

12. Review the information and click on Finish to continue with deployment.untitled10

13. You will be presented with below screen once the deployment is successful, you can either continue with stage 2 or revisit later to configure the appliance using VAMI UI. I will proceed with stage 2 by clicking Continue.untitled11

14. Click on Next to start the appliance configuration wizard.untitled12

15. Configure the NTP and SSH options for the appliance and click Next to continue. untitled13

16. Enter the SSO domain name, credentials and SSO site name and click Next to continue.


17. Review your settings and click on Finish.untitled15

18. You will receive the Warning message, click on OK to continue.untitled16

19. You will receive the final screen with URL to launch the web client once the configuration is successful.


Launch the vCenter server and configure networking, shared storage and HA/DRS cluster to configure VCHA. Lets procced with configuring VCHA once all prerequisites are configured.

  1. Launch vCenter Server, navigate to Configure >> Click on vCenter HA in Settings section and finally click on Configure option to launch the VCHA configuration options.


2. Select the basic option since this method is easy and automates cloning and configurations options for you and also sets DRS rules.


3. This step will add second NIC for the active vCenter appliance which will be used for internal communication between active and passive nodes. Enter the IP address and click on browse to select the network adapter.


4. Select the network adapter from the list required for step 3 above in this post.


5. You will see similar screen once the network adapter is selected.


6. Click on Advanced option to enter the IP addresses for Passive and Witness nodes internal communication.


7. Enter the IP address for Passive node internal communication adapter.


8. Repeat the steps 6 – 7 for Witness node.

9. You may see compatibility errors in deployment wizard which is due to data store and compute being  the same for Passive and Witness nodes in the cluster. Change these by clicking on edit for each node.


10. Select the data center , compute, storage and networking for peer (Passive node) required in step 9 of this post. Please refer the images below.


11. Select the Compute.untitled27

12. Select the data store.untitled28

13. Select the Network.untitled29

14. Review the settings and click on Finish.untitled30

15. Repeat the steps 10 -14 above in this post for Witness node by clicking on edit.untitled31

16. Review the configuration parameters for Passive and Witness node and click on Finish to continue with VCHA configuration.untitled32

At this point vCenter will start the configuration with cloning of existing Active vCenter appliance, you can track the progress through vCenter server UI.


VCAH configuration completed smoothly! new-bitmap-image

Thanks for reading.


4 thoughts on “VMware vSphere 6.5 – How To Enable Native vCenter High Availability

  1. Pingback: VSAN 6.5 whats’s new – VSAN iSCSI End to End Deployment Guide | SDDC Online

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