A great feature that was introduced in vSphere 6.5 was the ability to implement vCenter High Availability (VCHA). If you are unfamiliar with the vCenter High Availability, it is an active-passive architecture to safeguard your vCenter Server appliance from host, hardware, or application failures.
How does it work?
The VCHA deployment is comprised of three nodes; active, passive and witness. The active node is just that, the active vCenter Server Appliance instance. This node has two interfaces; a standard management interface (eth0) and an HA network interface (eth1). VCHA replicates data from the active node to the passive node on the HA network. The active vCenter database is replicated synchronously and the file system is replicated asynchronously. The passive node also has two interfaces; however, eth0, which contains the identical FQDN, IP, and MAC address, is dormant. This interface becomes active in the event of a failover. The final piece of the VCHA architecture is the witness node. The witness is utilized for quorum services, informing the cluster which nodes should be active at any given time. All three nodes must be online and be functioning for a healthy cluster.
In a failover event, eth0 of the passive node is brought online. A gratuitous ARP will be performed to notify the network that the passive node has now become active and taken over the FQDN, IP and MAC address. After failover, if the failed node can be brought back online, replication will resume. If the original node cannot be brought back online, the node can be removed from inventory and redeployed.
Last month, we discussed how to install VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) 7.x. Once vRO is installed, you can begin utilizing Orchestrator plug-ins. Orchestrator plug-ins allow you to access and interact with external applications through workflows. Natively, the vRealize Orchestrator appliance deploys with a set of standard plug-ins. It is also possible to develop custom plug-ins with Orchestrator’s open standards.
The vCenter connection plug-in is a good place to begin your Orchestrator journey. In order to access objects and run workflows against your vSphere environment, this connection needs to be configured to your vCenter Server instance.
Configure Connection to vCenter Server
Log into the vRealize Orchestrator Client. From the Workflows tab, locate Add a vCenter Instance workflow under Library > vCenter > Configuration. Right-click the workflow and select Start workflow.
Historically, the adoption rate on major server releases is slow. With Windows Server 2016 about to hit one year in the release cycle, more organizations are gearing up to deploy the operating system in their environments. That being the case, it seemed appropriate to walk through an install of Microsoft Windows Server 2016 as the guest OS in a vSphere 6.5 environment.
NOTE – Server 2016 is fully supported from ESXi 5.5 and up, as per the VMware Compatibility Guide.
VMware vRealize Orchestrator is an automation tool that utilizes workflows to simplify complex IT tasks. vRealize Orchestrator is natively integrated into vRealize Automation or it can be deployed stand-alone as a Linux appliance. At first glance, the lines between vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) and vRealize Automation (vRA) may seem blurred. To clear up any confusion, vRO is a general-purpose run book tool to automate IT tasks. vRA, on the other hand, is cloud management tool that relies on policy based governance to deliver IT service. As its central automation tool, Automation leverages Orchestrator workflows.
NOTE – Version releases prior to 7.0.1 also allowed for a Windows-based installer. If you are still using a Windows version, you can migrate from Windows to the appliance.
For the purpose of this post, we will be deploying the Linux-based appliance and configuring vRealize Orchestrator 7.3 as a Standalone Server using vSphere Authentication.