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Deploy a Guest Cluster Using a Shared Virtual Hard Disk

Published: June 24, 2013

Updated: November 1, 2013

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 R2



The procedures in this topic show how you can designate a virtual hard disk (.vhdx file) as shared storage for multiple virtual machines that are configured as a guest failover cluster. You can use shared .vhdx files for data disks and for the disk witness. Do not use a shared .vhdx file for the operating system disk.

For an overview of shared .vhdx files that includes deployment diagrams, see Virtual Hard Disk Sharing Overview.

You can deploy a guest failover cluster that uses shared .vhdx files on a Hyper-V failover cluster in either of the following configurations:

Scenario 1: Hyper-V failover cluster using Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) on block-level storage

In this scenario, all virtual machine files, including the shared .vhdx files are stored on a CSV that is configured as shared storage for a Hyper-V failover cluster.

This scenario has the following physical host prerequisites:

  • At least two servers that are running Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • The servers must be members of the same Active Directory domain.

  • The servers must support Hyper-V. For more information, see the "Hardware requirements" section of Hyper-V Overview.

  • The servers must meet the requirements for failover clustering. For more information, see Failover Clustering Hardware Requirements and Storage Options and Validate Hardware for a Failover Cluster.

  • The servers must have access to block-level storage, which you can add as shared storage to the physical cluster. This storage can be iSCSI, Fibre Channel, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), or clustered storage spaces that use a set of shared SAS just-a-bunch-of-disks (JBOD) enclosures.

Scenario 2: Hyper-V failover cluster using file-based storage in a separate Scale-Out File Server

This scenario uses Server Message Block (SMB) file-based storage as the location of the shared .vhdx files. You must deploy a Scale-Out File Server and create an SMB file share as the storage location. You also need a separate Hyper-V failover cluster.

The following table describes the physical host prerequisites.

 

Cluster Type Requirements

Scale-Out File Server

  • At least two servers that are running Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • The servers must be members of the same Active Directory domain.

  • The servers must meet the requirements for failover clustering.

    For more information, see Failover Clustering Hardware Requirements and Storage Options and Validate Hardware for a Failover Cluster.

  • The servers must have access to block-level storage, which you can add as shared storage to the physical cluster. This storage can be iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SAS, or clustered storage spaces that use a set of shared SAS JBOD enclosures.

Hyper-V failover cluster

In this step, you create the failover clusters that are required to host the virtual machines, and create the storage locations for the virtual machine files.

Use the appropriate procedure for your deployment scenario. Before you begin, make sure that the servers meet the prerequisites that are outlined in the Deployment scenarios section of this topic.

Scenario 1: Hyper-V failover cluster using CSV

  1. Create at least a two-node Hyper-V failover cluster by following Steps 1 through 5 in the topic Deploy a Hyper-V Cluster.

  2. In Step 6 of the Deploy a Hyper-V Cluster topic, add the storage where you want to store the virtual machine files to CSV. For more information, see the “Add a disk as a CSV to a failover cluster” section of Use Cluster Shared Volumes in a Failover Cluster.

Scenario 2: Hyper-V cluster using file-based storage in a separate Scale-Out File Server

  1. Create at least a two-node Hyper-V failover cluster by following Steps 1 through 5 in the topic Deploy a Hyper-V Cluster.

    noteNote
    If you plan to store all virtual machine files on the Scale-Out File Server, you do not need shared block-level storage on the Hyper-V cluster.

  2. Deploy a Scale-Out File Server by following Steps 1 and 2, and Task 1.1 of Step 3 in the guide Deploy Scale-Out File Server.

This step shows how to create the virtual machines that you can use to create the guest failover cluster. In this step, you create the virtual machine configuration files and the virtual hard disk that is used for the operating system.

Guest operating system requirements

You must use Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 for the guest operating system. If you use Windows Server 2012, you must upgrade the Hyper-V integration services to the Windows Server 2012 R2 version.

noteNote
As a best practice, we recommend that if you create a virtual machine on a failover cluster node, you create it as a highly available virtual machine.

  1. From one of the Hyper-V failover cluster nodes, create two or more highly available virtual machines. To do this, follow Steps 7 and 8 in the topic Deploy a Hyper-V Cluster. When you create the virtual machines, note the following:

    1. On the Specify Name and Location page, select the Store the virtual machine in a different location check box, click Browse, and then navigate to the shared storage location.

      • If the shared storage is a CSV disk, navigate to: C:\ClusterStorage\VolumeX, where C:\ represents the system drive, and X represents the volume number.

      • If the shared storage is an SMB file share, navigate to: \\ServerName\ShareName, where ServerName represents the client access point for the Scale-Out File Server, and ShareName represents the name of the SMB file share.

    2. On the Specify Generation page, select Generation 1 or Generation 2. Both types of virtual machines are supported. However, if you want to use an existing virtual hard disk that is in the .vhd file format, you must use a Generation 1 virtual machine.

      noteNote
      The virtual hard disk for the operating system can use the .vhd or the .vhdx file format.

    3. On the Connect Virtual Hard Disk page, create a virtual hard disk or use an existing virtual hard disk that resides on shared storage. (If you use an existing virtual hard disk, the guest operating system must be Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2.) In the Location box, specify a CSV path or the SMB file share path.

  2. If you chose to create a virtual hard disk, install an operating system on each virtual machine. You must use Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2.

  3. Ensure that both virtual machines are running and that they are joined to the same Active Directory domain.

  4. If you installed Windows Server 2012 as the guest operating system, upgrade the Hyper-V integration services to the Windows Server 2012 R2 version. For information about how to upgrade integration services, see Step 4 of the topic Install the Hyper-V Role and Configure a Virtual Machine.

This step shows how to create and then share a virtual hard disk that is in the .vhdx file format. Repeat this step for each shared .vhdx file that you want to add. For example, you may want to add one or more shared disks that will act as data disks, and a separate shared disk that you can designate as the disk witness for the guest failover cluster.

  1. In Failover Cluster Manager, expand the cluster name, and then click Roles.

  2. In the Roles pane, right-click the virtual machine on which you want to add a shared virtual hard disk, and then click Settings.

  3. In the virtual machine settings, under Hardware, click SCSI Controller.

  4. In the details pane, click Hard Drive, and then click Add.

  5. In the Hard Drive details pane, under Virtual hard disk, click New.

    The New Virtual Hard Disk Wizard opens.

  6. On the Before You Begin page, click Next.

  7. On the Choose Disk Format page, accept the default format of VHDX, and then click Next.

    noteNote
    To share the virtual hard disk, the format must be .vhdx.

  8. On the Choose Disk Type page, select Fixed size or Dynamically expanding, and then click Next.

    noteNote
    A differencing disk is not supported for a shared virtual hard disk.

  9. On the Specify Name and Location page, do the following:

    1. In the Name box, enter the name of the shared virtual hard disk.

    2. In the Location box, enter the path of the shared storage location.

      For Scenario 1, where the shared storage is a CSV disk, enter the path:

      C:\ClusterStorage\VolumeX, where C:\ represents the system drive, and X represents the desired CSV volume number.

      For Scenario 2, where the shared storage is an SMB file share, specify the path:

      \\ServerName\ShareName, where ServerName represents the client access point for the Scale-Out File Server, and ShareName represents the name of the SMB file share.

    3. Click Next.

  10. On the Configure Disk page, accept the default option of Create a new blank virtual hard disk, specify the desired size, and then click Next.

  11. On the Completing the New Virtual Hard Disk Wizard page, review the configuration, and then click Finish.

    ImportantImportant
    If the virtual machine is running, do not click Apply in the virtual machine settings before you continue to the next procedure.

    If you do click Apply on a running virtual machine, you will need to stop the virtual machine or remove and then add the virtual hard disk without clicking Apply. For more information, see the Note in Step 3 of the following procedure.

  1. In the virtual machine settings, under SCSI Controller, expand the hard drive that you created in the previous procedure.

  2. Click Advanced Features.

  3. In the details pane, select the Enable virtual hard disk sharing check box.

    noteNote
    If the check box appears dimmed and is unavailable, you can do either of the following:

    • Remove and then add the virtual hard disk to the running virtual machine. When you do, ensure that you do not click Apply when the New Virtual Hard Disk Wizard completes. Instead, immediately configure sharing in Advanced Features.

    • Stop the virtual machine, and then select the Enable virtual hard disk sharing check box.

  4. Click Apply, and then click OK.

  5. Add the virtual hard disk to each virtual machine that will use the shared .vhdx file. When you do, repeat this procedure to enable virtual hard disk sharing for each virtual machine that will use the disk.

TipTip
To share a virtual hard disk by using Windows PowerShell, use the Add-VMHardDiskDrive cmdlet with the –ShareVirtualDisk parameter. You must run this command as an administrator on the Hyper-V host for each virtual machine that will use the shared .vhdx file.

For example, the following command adds a shared virtual hard disk (Data1.vhdx) on volume 1 of CSV to a virtual machine that is named VM1.

Add-VMHardDiskDrive -VMName VM1 -Path C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1\Data1.vhdx -ShareVirtualDisk

The following command adds a shared virtual hard disk (Witness.vhdx) that is stored on an SMB file share (\\Server1\Share1) to a virtual machine that is named VM2.

Add-VMHardDiskDrive -VMName VM2 -Path \\Server1\Share1\Witness.vhdx -ShareVirtualDisk

This step shows how to verify that the shared .vhdx files show up as shared storage when you create the guest cluster.

  1. On one of the virtual machines, in Server Manager or in Disk Management, confirm that the shared .vhdx file is visible as a disk. Bring the disk online, initialize the disk, and then create and format the volume.

  2. Create the guest cluster by adding the virtual machines as cluster nodes. When you create the cluster, add all eligible storage. (The shared .vhdx files will be added as available storage.)

  3. After the failover cluster is created, verify that the storage was added. To do this, open Failover Cluster Manager, expand the cluster name, expand Storage, and then click Disks.

    In the Disks pane, verify that the disks appear.

  4. Optionally, add the available storage to CSV. For more information, see the "Add a disk as a CSV to a failover cluster" section of Use Cluster Shared Volumes in a Failover Cluster.

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