HA (High Availability) Failover Cluster in 2012 R2 Hyper-V is free?

We have two 2012 R2 Hyper-V hosts. Want to know if the Failover (HA) Cluster feature is already included in the 2012 R2 Hyper-V and is free?
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Michael OrtegaSales & Systems EngineerCommented:
The short answer is yes, but a failover cluster implies you have more than just a couple Hyper-V hosts. You need shared storage as well, e.g. SAN.

CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
We do have an SAN. But even we have only two pretty powerful hosts with plenty of resources, still not good for failover cluster?
Michael OrtegaSales & Systems EngineerCommented:
That's fine. You only need 2 hosts + shared storage.

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CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
Can I have one more quick question please, regarding Hyper-V Replica?
If we use shared storage -- SAN, and the replica server actually is physically located 100 miles away. In the event of primary host failure how can the replicated VMs (becomes in replica server -- 100 miles away from the SAN) access the SAN ?? That seems to be NOT feasible, correct?
Michael OrtegaSales & Systems EngineerCommented:
The remote replica server would not access the local SAN that your two Hyper-V hosts running a failover cluster would be accessing. I'm assuming that the remote server is actually a 3rd server, not one of the 2 servers mentioned initially. If this is a 3rd server, you can run your 2 host failover cluster and then Hyper-V replicate that virtual environment to the 3rd server in the remote site. Hyper-V replication is free, but I wouldn't actually recommend using it. I would recommend using something like VEEAM backup & replication to do the replication. Better disk efficiency if you want to hold onto generations of your replicas.

CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
You said you wouldn't recommend using Hyper-V Replica since its disk lower efficiency, compared to commercial backup & replication software such as Veeam. Can you elaborate a little bit more about the reason why its lower disk efficiency?
Brian MurphySenior Information Technology ConsultantCommented:
Something else to consider on the "Replica" is once you implement a cluster you actually replicate at the "broker" so from Cluster 1 to Cluster 2 you must install and configure the Replication Broker Role.  This is not good or bad just a statement of fact.

When I see "HA" I think "Local HA" and anything remote can be "Remote HA" and double as Disaster Recovery.

Replica might come in handy if your company requires disaster recovery "testing" or "site failover".

A lot of DR plans are written to support an actual failover but often do not get tested as they should every quarter, twice per year, once per year.

Let's say I have two clusters one at Site A the other at Site B and create a replica for Server 123 in Cluster 1, allow all nodes in the cluster, replicate changes every 5 minutes, Kerberos authentication and HTTP / TCP 80 for the port.

Now all I need to do is right click on the replica and "Test Failover".  Sometimes this gets overlooked but what it does is actually create another copy independent of the replica and bring it online allowing for application testing.  Hyper-V R2 allows for 15 "deltas" or snapshots and with "Test Failover" I can choose which snapshot to create this test copy.  

This comes in handy for regression testing where developers make changes.  It is not necessarily for DR.  It has other benefits that are not necessarily documented.

Quick way to turn up different iterations of a production server without impacting production.  Also satisfies any DR requirements although the subnets will change and that must be factored.  2012 R2 has come a long way from 2008 and even 2008 R2 SP 1 days.

When testing is done, simply right-click > Replication > Stop Testing.  This removes the virtual machine and any changes.  

Then a planned failover easily done by going back to the Cluster Manager > Roles > Highlight the server being replicated BY the Broker > Right-Click > "Planned Failover"

This has really streamlined DR scenarios for myself.


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Michael OrtegaSales & Systems EngineerCommented:

If you wanted to hang onto a certain number replica snapshots Hyper-V is very inefficient at using the disk space. For example, one additional snapshot of a Hyper-V replica would be something like 50% in size of the original image. You would have to have a 100% additional space just to hang onto a couple replication snapshots. With something like Veeam, you could easily hold 20-30+ replicas with only adding maybe 20% of a storage buffer to the replica server.

Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Failover Clustering is indeed included for Hyper-V, Clustered Storage Spaces, and even a Scale-Out File Server cluster to provide SMB based VHDX storage.

Blog Post: Cluster 101: Some Hyper-V and SOFS Cluster Basics.
My EE Article: Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices.
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