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VM automatic startup/shutdown on ESXi 5.1

Posted on 2014-09-13
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Last Modified: 2014-09-23
Hello, I want to configure VM automatic startup/shutdown on ESXi 5.1. All VMs run Windows. I have read the documentation and I still have a few questions.

1. Is the VM startup/shutdown delay applied sequentially or in parallel? Meaning, if I have 4 VMs in the automatic startup section and each VM has a startup delay of 60 seconds, will they all start 60 seconds after power-up or will they start 60 seconds after the previous VM has started? (ie No.1 will start in 60 seconds, No.2 in 120 seconds, No.3 in 180 seconds and so forth). Is this behavior any different for VMs in the "any order" section?

2. My understanding is that "any order" VMs start after ALL the "automatic startup" VMs have started. I also understand that shutdown order is reversed from the startup order. So for shutdown, do the "any order" VMs stop BEFORE the "automatic startup" VMs or not?

Thanks
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Question by:criskrit
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LVL 118
ID: 40321337
First question do you have a Cluster and are you using VMware HA?

1. The startup order, is defined as when the System Starts e.g. the Host OS.

So if you define 4 VMs to Automatic Startup, delay of 60 seconds, all four will start 60 seconds after the host as started. So all together or Parallel as you put it.

The order is defined as to which VM is started, so you can stagger startup, e.g. you may need DCs up first, and then SQL servers, before you start Web Servers.

2. VM Shutdown is the reverse of the Start order.

It's either Auto Start or Any Order....you decide which you are going to use, if you want an Order to Start VMs, use Automatic and order them, or Any Order.

Do NOT, have all your VMs, Start at the same time, unless you have resources, CPU, RAM and FAST Disk, that can cope with the storm!

otherwise you will find your Hypervisor non-responsive for many minutes after startup!
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Author Comment

by:criskrit
ID: 40321342
Hello Andrew and thanks for the explanation. We have 3 Hosts with HA. They are UPS-powered so the idea is to time the (graceful) startup & shutdown.

In regards to the config, what is the use of the startup order if there is a configurable delay and everything starts in parallel? For instance, I can have 10 seconds delay for the DCs and ie 5 minutes delay for the rest. If I do this do I really need to have the DCs sorted at the top?

Also, lets say I have the following in the automatic startup section:
1. DC1 - 60 seconds
2. VIP1 - 30 seconds
3. VM1 - 300 seconds
If VIP1 is going to wait for DC1, what is the point of specifying a delay?
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LVL 118
ID: 40321343
Okay, if you have VMware HA, ALL this is NULL and VOID - hence why I ask!

Auto Startup is NOT SUPPORTED in a VMware HA environment!

Because under VMware HA, protected VMs under HA, are automatically started after a host failure.

If using UPS, get the UPS software to do it, OR let the HOSTS fail automatically. But remember, if you shutdown the VMs, before Host shutdown, the VMs will not be auto started, because they were no ON at Host failure!

Note: The Virtual Machine Startup and Shutdown (automatic startup) feature is disabled for all virtual machines residing on hosts that are in (or moved into) a VMware HA cluster. Automatic startup is not supported when used with VMware HA. As a result, starting with vCenter Server 5.0 Update 1, the Allow virtual machines to start and stop automatically with the system is available though at this time does not have functionality when enabled.

Source
Automating the process of starting and stopping virtual machines on VMware ESX (850)
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Author Comment

by:criskrit
ID: 40321347
Huh... this gets more confusing! :-)

Let's break it into two parts:
- Startup: I understand that with HA enabled, VMs will startup any way, but can't I define an order/priority/delay? If yes, where do I do it?
- Shutdown: Are you saying that the VMs will NOT shut down because they will move onto another host? What happens if this is the last Host? Also, in the event of power failure some non-important VMs could shutdown asap and stay off. Is there any way to do this?

Thanks
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LVL 118
ID: 40321351
HA enabled - Startup and Shutdown not supported. You cannot define a startup order in vCenter - not applicable.

Shutdown again not supported and maybe ignored with HA enabled.

If you power off VMs in the event of Host failure the state of VMs is remembered and under HA the same state will be invoked.

So Powered On VMs will be powered On Powered OFF VMs will remain OFF.
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Author Comment

by:criskrit
ID: 40323344
Hi Andrew, I understand this but how about *graceful* shutdown? Do the guest OS'es (Windows) shut down before the host powers off or do they simply die like someone pulled the plug? Thx!
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LVL 118

Accepted Solution

by:
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 500 total points
ID: 40323391
If you perform Graceful Shutdowns of the VMs, before the Host has powered OFF, HA will mark these VMs as OFF, so under a VMware HA start (e.g. host has failed to due power, e.g. uncontrolled shutdown), it will not start them at Host ON.

What you need to do, is leave Auto Start/Stop alone, and not have disabled. and if your UPS software does not do it....automatically....

Shutdown ALL VMs at Low UPS power. - via scripts
Shutdown ALL Hosts at Low UPS power. - via scripts

At Power On, UPS software starts VMs. - via scripts

Only, recently are UPS vendors beginning to notice the issues wrapped around VMware HA, DRS, controlled and uncontrolled shutdown, and now have software to do this....e.g. Eaton Virtualisation Suite.
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Author Comment

by:criskrit
ID: 40326550
So if HA is enabled the last host will "brutally kill" the VMs as opposed to shutting them down? This is crazy! Is this supposed to be well-thought design?

Also I read that "Automatic startup is not supported when used with VMware HA. As of vCenter Server 5.0 Update 1, the option to re-enable the setting is greyed out when the host is in a HA cluster". We are using ESXi 5.1 patch 3 and the "Allow virtual machines to start and stop automatically" is available. How can this be?

Otherwise I like the script idea. :-)
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LVL 118
ID: 40326589
VMware HA and Auto Start and Stop has never been supported EVER on all versions....from 3.0 to 5.5.

If you do nothing and just leave Host fail and VMs will fail of course....

Everything will restart Automatically on Power Resumed!

This is how some organisations deal with it.

The issues is non UPS aware VMware HA and DRS software...
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