vSphere 5.x Tip To Toe: Installing vCenter Server Heartbeat v6.6

This is a product that really is not given its proper credits, by customers at least whom do not see paying a bunch of k$s to protect their vCenter server properly, any way we had a bid and this product was included so usually when going through an RFP and there is something that I do not grasp from tip to toe then its lab time and afterwards its notes, notes and some ore notes.

  • You can find the installation guide here.
  • You can find the administration guide here.

Off to arms then!

What I didn’t know about vCenter Server Heartbeat that it was powered by Neverfail and I’ve worked with this product a couple of times for customers who demanded high availability for their SQL and ORACLE servers, in hereunder notes I will be covering the virtual to virtual scenario because from my humble point of prospective this will be the most used.


  1. 1 IP address which will represent the service hosted by the vCenter server so if your current vCenter server is named vCenterServer and its IP address is then the service name which will be high available will be vCenterServer and its IP address will be
  2. 2 IP addresses for Primary and Secondary servers management.
  3. An additional NIC which will be used for heartbeat communication and data transfer.
  4. I am using Windows Server 2012 with the latest updates for this test.


  1. Don’t create a new server and presume that you’ll be installing vCenter server on it and then it will be configured as a secondary node, this doesn’t work this way :).
  2. On the original vCenter server
    • Add a second vNIC.
    • Edit both network interfaces and disable DNS registration.
    • Rename the interface with the original IP address ( to Public and add a new IP address to it which will be the management IP i.e
    • Rename the second interface to VMware Channel and assign it with only an IP address and subnet mask i.e, no gateway and no DNS is needed, again make sure DNS registration is disabled also disable NETBIOS on TCI/IP.
    • Open services.msc and change the startup type of these services to manual (VMware VirtualCenter Server, VMware vSphere Profile-Drive Storage, vCenter Inventory Service and VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices).
  3. Now clone the vCenter Server and do not do any customization to it,  also edit the hardware before you finish and remove the connectivity ticks on the both vNICs.
  4. Once the clone finishes:
    • Rename it to vCenterServer2 and don’t do a sysprep because both the primary and secondary machine SID’s must be identical.
    • Configure the Primary network interface with the management IP address ( and the service IP address (
    • Configure the VMware channel network interface with only an IP address and netmark i.e
    • Again make sure that on both interfaces DNS registration is disabled and NETBIOS is disabled on the VMware Channel interface.
    • Now edit the virtual machine settings and connect both network interfaces.
  5. Create a network shared directory on your fileserver for example and configure its sharing permissions (usually I only allow the user account that I am installing with).

Installation – Primary Node:

  1. As of this post the latest build is vCSHB-v6-6-13406.exe.
  2. Start the executable, and you’ll find the nifty powered by Neverfail in the spalsh.
  3. Click next and chose “Install Primary VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat“.
  4. Accept the license agreement, next.
  5. Add your key, next.
  6. Here we’re going for LAN high availability, next.
  7. Secondary node is virtual, next.
  8. Select the destination installation path, next.
  9. For the VMware Channel configuration, chose the interface which we’ve named earlier VMware Channel, next.
  10. Add the primary vmware channel IP address which will be shown as the IP address of the VMware Channel interface and then you have to manually type in the IP address of the secondary server VMware Channel IP address i.e. also if you have a specific requirement you can change the communication ports, next.
  11. Select the public channel interface, named Public earlier and click next.
  12. Add the public IP address of the service where here it will be i.e which is the original IP address of the vCenter server and retain the user same IP address for secondary configuration, next.
  13. Add the IP addresses that will be used for management for both servers i.e and, next.
  14. Now you’ll notice that the FQDN of the protected service will take the same FQDN of the original computer name, this is because the vCenter Server services are dependent on this FQDN name and it can’t be changed, as such you’ll have to rename the original vCenter server in such a way that you’ll end up with this:
    • vCenterServer < Service name.
    • vCenterHost1 < Primary node name.
    • vCenter Host2 < Secondary node name.
  15. Now you select what are the features you want to be protected, usually defaults will be sufficient and if you can VMware Hoirzon View Composer installed you can protect that as well, in the same dialogue a username and password will be required and these are used to register the vCenter Heartbeat plugin to the vCenter server, next.
  16. Put the UNC path of the shared network folder that we’ve created earlier, next.
  17. Review the summary, next.
  18. Wait for Pre-Install checks to finish, next.
  19. Wait for the Install phase to finish, next.
  20. Wait for the Packet filter installation to finish, next.
  21. Here before you click finish you must head to you DNS server and you need to remove all automatic registration entries from your forward and reverse lookup zones and then what you will need to do it create 3 new static entries.
    • vCenterServer pointing to
    • vCenterBox1 pointing to
    • vCenterBox2 pointing to
  22. Now you can click finish and your vCenter Server will reboot.
  23. Once the server is up, sign-in and in the system tray you’ll find the vCenter Server Hearbeat icon.
  24. Right click on it and click on Manage Server.
  25. If the group doesn’t show up automatically, click on add and type the name of the service i.e vCenterServer and put your credentials where you’ll notice that this node is the primary node and the secondary node is waiting.

Installation – Secondary Node:

  1. Copy vCSHB-v6-6-13406.exe to the secondary server and start it.
  2. Click next and select Install Secondary VMware vCenter Server.
  3. Now put the UNC path which we used before to copy some installation configuration on the primary node, next.
  4. Wait for Pre-Install to finish, next.
  5. Wait for the Install to finish, next.
  6. Here is where we select the VMware Channel adapter (should be selected by default), next.
  7. Here is where we select the Public adapter (also selected by default), next.
  8. Wait for the node configuration to finish, next and finish.

Give a couple of seconds and the primary server will detect the secondary server and it will start communicating where first network connectivity is checked and the system registry is replicated and finally data will be replicated.

Now you have a vCenter server with proper protection against failure =).


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