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VMWare: HA > disable 'virtual machines start and shutdown'?

Hi,

Right now I've got a cluster containing 3 VMWare ESXi 5.5 hosts, with HA activated. This works as intended: if one hosts fails then its VMs get started on one of the remaining hosts.

But it seems that for this to work 'start and stop virtual machines with the system' needs to be disabled? Is that correct?

Yet that seems to conflict with my APC PowerChute Network Shutdown software that requires that feature to be enabled so it can shutdown the VMs gracefully in case of an electricity outage and automatically start them again later?

Or what am I missing ... ?

Thanks a lot,

Jerome
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AbhilashBlogger

Commented:
The Virtual Machine Start up and Shutdown (automatic start up) feature is disabled for all virtual machines residing on hosts that are in (or moved into) a vSphere HA cluster. Automatic start up is not supported when used with vSphere HA.

Seems like you can only have one working at a time.

If, for any reason, HA is deselected and then selected again after the cluster is built, the Start and Stop Virtual Machines with the system setting switches from Enabled to Disabled.

So try enabling it later and see if it works. Trying it in my lab right now. Will confirm once i try this.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
This is by design Startup and Shutsown are disabled with VMware HA.

see here

http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=850
AbhilashBlogger

Commented:
Okay I just tested it in my lab.

You can enable the Startup/Shutdown setting once HA is configured. When you configure HA it will get disabled, and has to be manually enabled later so your APC PowerChute can make use of this feature

Author

Commented:
Ok, so in the case of a power failure everything has to be started again manually then using vSphere client, once the hosts have been manually started?

Author

Commented:
Abilhash: ok, and that setting does not interfere with the HA feature of the cluster? meaning that if one host fails then the VMs will still get started on another host?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
Correct.

It's not supported by VMware to enable Startup/Shutdown when HA is enabled.

see here

Automatic startup is not supported when the virtual machine is HA enabled. 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 enabling this feature has no affect at this time.

Source
http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=850
AbhilashBlogger

Commented:
No in case of power failure, the startup order will kick in and bring up the systems like you have defined.

When you enable HA the option gets disabled, doesn't mean you can't enable it again. just enable it and it will work fine.
AbhilashBlogger

Commented:
@Andrew can you provide any link that says this is not supported? I can't find any.

Author

Commented:
your statements there seem to conflict?
AbhilashBlogger

Commented:
It said it is not supported but from Andrew's comment it looks like it will have no effect if it is enabled in a HA enabled cluster.

So you go to HA settings and use "Virtual machine options" to define the startup/shutdown order/priority.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
Again not supported, it will not do anything, do the following:-

1. Shutdown the VMs, at APC Signal of Battery is running out. This will mean you WILL NEED to power on manually.

2. Let the machines fail...they will then be restarted automatically by HA, when the hosts fail.

Author

Commented:
Andrew: what's the difference between 'the machines' and 'the hosts' under (2)?

and the point would be for APC to shutdown the VMs automatically (that should work though). currently I have to start everything manually after a power outage anyway. I'm just not 100% sure that the graceful shutdowns worked ... seems like they did not ...

I'm just trying to optimize that system ...
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
It depends what you want to achieve ?

Manual Restart of VMs or Automatic Restart of VMs ?

If APC shutsdown the VMs, then you will need to manually restart the VMs, at a power outage.

if you let the VMs fail, they will be restarted, or you let the Host fail, the VMs will be restarted.

Are you shutting the hosts down cleanly ?

do you have a SAN?

are all your network switches protected by UPS as well, and you are using the latest versions of APC PowerChute software version 4.0, now has been changed alot.

Author

Commented:
Andrew:

Yes, I've got a SAN and PowerChute Network Shutdown 4.1

What I had in mind was the following scenario:

there's a power outage
PowerChute send 'shutdown messages' to the VMs
once all the VMs are shut down the hosts will shut down as well (or fail if there's not enough battery power left)
when the power is back the hosts automatically start again
PowerChute should wait until the UPS has a certain level of power again and then send 'start messages' to the VMs
everything runs as before ...

Or am I approaching this incorrectly?

So this is less about HA (which works just fine) than how to react to a power loss ... HA just came into it because it had disabled the automatic restarts of the VMs
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Commented:
Yes, fine approach, and perfect, no need to set anything with VMware HA, or changing startup and shutdown within VMware vSphere.

and this is why I asked if you had 4.0, because earlier versions could not startup VMs, so this was always the confusion, with Admins wanting autostart, and this is disabled with VMware HA

One Tip, we have also found, stagger VM restarts/startups, depending upon your SAN configuration, and whether you are using SSD, All flash, Hybrid, or spinning rust.

otherwise if you start all 1000s VMs at the same time, you can introduce a broadcast storm, on your SAN, and overload it, and VM restarts will timeout.

Author

Commented:
Andrew: what I described above would be my ideal scenario! I'm not sure it already works like this though .......

And I've got around 30 VMs.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
I would still be careful with 30 VMs... just check or test, or be warned if the event happens!