Friday, February 22, 2013

Red Hat Clustering support on VMware vSphere

A couple of months ago, a client asked me if it’s supported to run Red Hat Clustering Suite within a VMware vSphere environment.

This kind of question always leads me to the same answer:
In general, there should be no restrictions to run any application inside a virtual machine (exception is for applications that requires an specific hardware to work, like tokens or dongles), others applications may require a few adjusts to run without any problem, but, the main point here is to check if the application's vendor supports it on a virtual environment.

In other words, ask the vendor if their specific application is supported to run virtualized, otherwise you might end up without support.

Backing to the Red Hat Clustering Suite, also knows as RHCS or RHEL Cluster, question:
YES it’s supported.

Since It took me a few hours to check and confirm this information, I decided to share that with you guys and may be save you a few hours.
On the Red Hat’s website, you can find VirtualizationSupport for High Availability in Red Hat Enterprise, where the support statement of clustering solutions on VMware environments could be found.

While configuring the solution, there’s one caveat to make it works within a vSphere environment, you have to set up the correct fence agent. Fence support Matrix for Red Hat page describes it in details.

Just one last note, don’t take this as an official statement, those pages could be out of date. Remember my “official “answer: talk with the vendor to get and official statement.

 See you around.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

VMware Heartbeat Licensing

I’ve been receiving the same question over and over from my clients....

“ Can I use the same Heartbeat license to protect all vCenter components? “

Short answer: YES !!!!

No matter if they are all installed on the same box or if they are running elsewhere. A single vCenter Heartbeat License can protect all components of your vCenter environment.

REMINDER: if you have more than one vCenter environment you will need additional vCenter Heartbeat licenses.

Let’s extrapolate it at maximum:
The screen bellow, is a perfect supported environment where all the servers are protected with the same vCenter Heartbeat license.

There’s one caveat here:
Database Servers!!! (Heartbeat just protects it when running on SQL servers).
If your database server hosts other databases than vCenter related databases, you would need to create a SQL instance just for vCenter related databases and then protect this instance with vCenter Heartbeat. Of course, the others databases/instances would not be protect and in case of failure or switch over they will unavailable.

So, How do I know all of this ?
During some internal VMware training it has been explored a lot, I also get it confirmed by vCenter Heartbeat’s Product Manager.

But, I was not convinced that I could not prove that to my clients, driving me to check if this information is publicly available.

Don’t even bother to look at it. There’s nothing related to what we are looking for.

Next step was to check released notes, starting with the last version, 6.5. Nothing in there either.
Since I was there I took a look at the release notes of all others versions.
 “ vCenter Server Heartbeat — The SQL Server Plug-in provides protection for the SQL Server database if it is present on the same server or if deployed separately.”

Well, it’s more related with the ability to protect remotely SQL databases than a license compliant issue, right ?!?!?

No luck with the Administration Guide.

But, On the Installation Guide, the implementation section states:
”vCenter Server Heartbeat can protect vCenter Server and SQL Server installed on the same server, or protect vCenter Server in a distributed configuration.

Seems we confirmed that we can use it to protect the components on a distributed configuration.

Finally I stumbled into a VMware KB article (1008601), which says:
“vCenter Server Heartbeat Plug-in provides protection for all associated VMware vCenter Server and VMware License Server configuration data, services, application data files, and log files.”

To me it’s enough information to prove how a vCenter Heartbeat license can be used. How about you ?

Who am I

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I’m an IT specialist with over 15 years of experience, working from IT infrastructure to management products, troubleshooting and project management skills from medium to large environments. Nowadays I'm working for VMware as a Consulting Architect, helping customers to embrace the Cloud Era and make them successfully on their journey. Despite the fact I'm a VMware employee these postings reflect my own opinion and do not represents VMware's position, strategies or opinions. Reach me at @dumeirell

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