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Category: Virtual Machine Manager

System Center 2012 R2 – High Availability: Virtual Machine Manager

System Center 2012 R2 – High Availability: Virtual Machine Manager

The goal of this series is to see how to implement each product of System Center 2012 R2 suite as highly available and how to backup & recover them.

Obviously, the most straightforward method of making the server that hosts a System Center product highly available is to deploy that product within a highly available virtual machine and configure a replica virtual machine hosted on a second failover cluster. Additionally, you have to make the databases for each System Center product highly available by deploying the databases on

  • SQL Server instance hosted on a highly available virtual machine
  • SQL Server failover cluster
  • SQL Server availability groups (Using availability groups involves substantial configuration of SQL Server prior the deployment of the System Center product. You’ll have to specify the availability group listener name during product setup.)

But the problem with deploying the product on a highly virtual machine is that it doesn’t take into account the problems that could go wrong with the VMM service itself or problems with the operating system that the VMM is running on, if something goes wrong in these places, VMM service would go down. Fortunately, you can use specific strategies for mostly System Center products.

About VMM, you can install it on an existing failover cluster. VMM supports being installed as highly available when deployed on an existing failover cluster but it is a fault tolerant service feature, it doesn’t increase scale/performance. In this configuration, the Virtual Machine Manager service account must be a domain account and you must also configure Distributed Key Management to store VMM encryption keys in AD DS. Additionally, deploy the VMM database to a SQL Server failover cluster (should be separate from the failover cluster that hosts the VMM failover cluster).

During installation, it will automatically detect that setup is running on the cluster node and it will ask if you want to deploy VMM as highly available. Setup steps will remain the same except an additional step to configure dedicated failover cluster role.

After the first node installation, you can easily add another node to this HA VMM cluster that you just created, to do that simply start the VMM setup on the second node where you want to install HA VMM. After going through the EULA page and selecting the VMM server feature checkbox you will see a similar pop up as the first node installation, but this time we will detect the HA VMM and ask “if you want to add this server as a node”. If you say YES, there will be the minimum amount of pages of setup and your second node will be added. You will need to repeat this on all of the nodes that you want to add to this HA VMM installation.

Once you have installed VMM, you need to plan backup and recovery scenarios. Perhaps the simplest method of protecting System Center products is to deploy them in virtual machines. You can then configure DPM to protect those virtual machines. When recovering a VM protected by DPM, you can choose to recover the VM, or you can perform item level recovery. When recovering a VM, you can choose to recover the VM to its original location or to a separate Hyper-V host that has the DPM agent deployed. Item level recovery allows you to choose to recover specific files or folders from a VM, rather than having to recover the VM in its entirety.

In order to recover a VMM deployment, you need to have a backup of the VMM database. You should also have a backup of the files stored in the VMM library. Microsoft recommends that you perform a full backup of the VMM database every 7 days and perform an incremental backup of the VMM database every day. You should backup at least on VMM library server whenever you substantially modify content stored on the server (You can learn more about backing up and recovering VMM deployment here).

You can back up the VMM database using the VMM console, by using SQL Server Management Studio, or by configuring protection for the database using DPM.

You can restore the VMM database using SQL Server Management Studio, DPM, or by using the SCVMMRecover.exe utility from an elevated command prompt on the server that hosts VMM. After restoring the VMM database, you will need to:

  • manually remove any virtualization hosts that you had removed from VMM subsequent to when you performed the backup
  • manually remove any VMs that you had removed from VMM subsequent to when you performed the backup
  • manually add any virtualization host that had been added to VMM subsequent to when you performed the backup
Note
If you restore the VMM database to a separate computer, you may need to reassociate any virtualization hosts and library servers that display an Access Denied message.