vCenter Availability GuidevCenter Server has become a mission critical part of most virtual infrastructures. It can be a single point of failure if it is not designed for availability. vCenter Server 6 has many changes relating to vCenter Server and its components and careful consideration has to be made in the design of its architecture.

With the release of vSphere 6 and multi-CPU Fault Tolerance many customers asked if they could use it  to protect vCenter Server. Initially this was unclear but now VMware has released the vCenter Server 6 Availability Guide which describes how different availability features, like vSphere FT, HA, vCenter Watchdog services and in guest clustering solutions, can be combined depending on customer requirements for availability.

In short:

Introduced in vSphere 6.0, customers can now use SMP-FT. VMware vSphere Fault Tolerance (FT) can be utilized to provide continuous availability for vCenter Server by having identical vCenter Server virtual machines running on separate hosts. A transparent failover occurs if the host running the Primary vCenter Server virtual machine fails, in which case the Secondary vCenter Server virtual machine is immediately activated to replace the failed virtual machine. A new secondary virtual machine is started and Fault Tolerance redundancy is reestablished automatically. Because support of FT for up to 4 virtual CPUs (vCPU) is available only in vSphere 6.0 Enterprise Plus edition, FT can only be used to protect vCenter Server for the tiny and small deployment type, 2 vCPU and 4 vCPU, respectively.

This table below describes the available solutions that can be used with vCenter Server to provide high availability by version (check out VMware KB1024051 for notes).

vCenter Availability solutions

The VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Availability Guide is a great resource for architecting a HA solution for vCenter Server. Besides that, check out VMware KB1024051 for additional information on information about supported high availability options for VMware vCenter Server as well as information regarding VMware’s stance on use of third-party solutions to protect the vSphere environment. I hope you find it useful!