vCenter Server Heartbeat 5.6 – Installation

I have to say you’ll not able to get what you anticipating if you follow VMware document. After referred few blogs and videos, I finally deployed the production in HA and DR mode both, it consumed a lot of time since I had to clone the VM from US to India over WAN. It’s pain, I’d like the share it to make sure you never fall in same situation.

If you don’t familiar with vCHB, please read vCenter Server Heartbeat 5.6 – Architecture.

Before install vCHB, you should know that:

  • Install vCenter Server and components on Primary Server, Secondary Server will be cloned.
  • vCenter Update Manager, vCenter Converter, ESXi Dump Collector, Syslog Collector are configured using Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN) rather than IP addresses.
  • Time Zone and time setting is correct.
  • Port 52267 and 57348 is enabled in firewall on both servers.
  • 2GB free memory available for vCenter Server Heartbeat.
  • Administrator right is required to install vCenter Server Heartbeat.
  • All vCenter Server components should functionally before install vCenter Server Heartbeat.
  • No * in SSO master password. ( I guess that’s a bug of 5.6U1, please refer to KB2034608 to reset master password )
  • vCenter Server FQDN is Primary Server computer name. ( It will be changed later )

Pre-configure before install vCHB:

  • Make sure Primary Server computer name is vCenter Server FQDN.
  • Change vCenter Server services to manually start up on Primary Server.
    VMware VirtualCenter Server
    VMware vSphere Profile-Drive Storage
    vCenter Inventory Service
    VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices
  • Recovery system fingerprint encrypted file.
    Go to C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\SSOServer\utils
    Recovery footprint by following command:
    rsautil manage-secrets -a recover -m SSO Master Password
  • Power off Primary Server
  • Clone Primary Server to secondary site.
  • Disconnect vNICs on Secondary Server.
  • Power on both servers and set IP addresses.
    I use two vNICs on each server, one for Public Network, another for VMware Channel Network.
    Public Network contains two IP address, one for Management Network, another for Principle Network.
    Principle Network on both should be same if you deploy HA mode, otherwise they are different for DR mode.
  • Disable NETBIOS and DNS Register on each vNIC.
  • Leave domain and rename Secondary Server.
  • Reboot Secondary Server and connect vNICs.
  • Join Secondary Server back to domain and add proper AD groups to Administrator group.
    Note: You probably need to re-join domain twice to make sure AD synchronization correct, I got vCenter Server startup issue in initially deployment due to AD synchronization issue.
  • Create a share folder on reliable server that Primary and Secondary Server both can access.
  • Make sure configured IP addresses pingable from each server.
  • Bring up vCenter Server services on Primary Server.


  • Select Install VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat to start installation.
  • Select Primary to install vCHB on Primary Server.
  • Accept agreement.
  • Apply license key.
  • Select LAN or WAN according to your architecture.
  • Select Secondary Server is Virtual option. ( I only tested that option )
  • Confirm installation path.
  • Select vNIC for VMware Channel network.
  • Enter VMware Channel IP addresses of Primary and Secondary Server.
    For HA mode, you could use non-routable or routable IP address.
    For DR mode, you must use routable IP addresses to make sure VMware Channel network can communicate each other over WAN.
  • Select vNIC for Public Network.
  • Enter IP addresses of Principal Network for both server.
    For HA mode, IP address should be same on both server.
    For DR mode, IP addresses should be different, you have to enter manually.
    Select the options accordingly.
  • If you select Different IP addresses in step above, you will need to enter a DNS update account of Windows. ( Refer to KB1008605 if you use BIND9 DNS instead of Windows DNS service )
  • Then configure Management Network. This network is used for RDP.
  • Rename computer name of both server. It looks like only rename Primary Server, no change for Secondary Server, but you don’t have to worry about that since we already renamed Secondary Server in early step.
  • Set client port, I used default.
  • Select components you want to protect and enter vCenter Login, this Login must have Administrator right on vCenter Server.
    Also input SSO master password, please note the SSO master password may different with SSO administrator password, please make sure you enter correct password.
  • Enter the share path you created earlier, this folder will store cluster configuration information for Secondary Server installation.
  • vCHB start checking system.
  • You will lost RDP connectivity for 10 seconds during installation due to Package Filter installation.

  • Once the installation complete, you can start on Secondary Server, just make sure you select Secondary.
    All other steps is similar like Primary Server.

After Installation:

  • Startup vCHB services on Secondary Server.
  • Open vCenter Server Heartbeat Management Console.
  • Add each node by Management Network.
  • Wait a while, you will see similar screen like following screenshot.

vCenter Server Heartbeat 5.6 – Architecture

I start to use VMware workstation since 2002 or earlier, my bad memory can’t recall it. That’s 1st generation of virtualization. If you look at today’s virtual world, we are on the way to “Matrix”! J Enterprise is virtualizing more and more server lead to vCenter Server becomes to a critical role. We have to prepare for any contingency. vCenter Server Heartbeat (vCHB) is a nice candidate for protecting vCenter Server. It provides your infrastructure ability to prevent downtime/outage of vCenter Server. To gearing up for implementation in production environment, I did some testing on my LAB, the product is nice, but the document is not ideal. I’d like to share my experience, this blog also referred to my project document, please let me know if you have any idea can help me make my document ideally. Thanks in advance.

vCHB is a cluster service like Microsoft Cluster Service or any other 3rd part cluster software. The benefit of this product is you don’t have to create the cluster on RDM and your ESXi maintenance operation would become much easier. You could deploy vCHB in HA or DR mode, I’ll focus on HA mode at this moment since I haven’t tested DR mode yet.


My original LAB infrastructure contains one vCenter Server with remote SQL database server, data transmits over LAN. So my vCHB topology is one SQL database (I already have MSCS to protects SQL database server), two vCenter servers (Primary Server and Secondary Server).

vCHB uses Active-Passive for HA mode, Active Role runs protected applications, Passive Role receives changed data.

Primary Server – Original vCenter Server which I want to protect, it runs all vCenter components except outage happening.

Secondary Server – Another server of the pair, it’s Passive Role. Generally it receives change of Primary Server and takes over Active Role when outage happens.

In my LAB Active Role is Primary Server, and Passive Role is Secondary Server in most of time.


vCHB have two networks: Public Network and VMware Channel Network. You could use single NIC to run all networks or multiple NICs to separate them.

VMware Channel Network – vCHB monitors alive of each via VMware Channel Network and syncs changed data, it’s very important network.

Public Network – It contains two sub-networks: Principle Network and Management Network. Principle Network for vCHB cluster, Management Network for day-to-day operation.

Confuse? To simple it, I understand the networks like that:

VMware Channel Network – Can be private IP address or any IP address outside of the subnet of Public Network. It used for heartbeat and data transmitting.

Public Network Principle Network is IP address of Cluster DNS name, Management Network is IP address for RDP, they are in same routable subnet, but better in different prefix of IP address, please refer to KB 2004926.


No special storage requirement, but 2GB free space should be there where you want to install vCHB to. We also need a reliable share folder to store cluster data, I prefer to create share folder on a server other than vCHB servers since vCHB networks usually interrupt for few seconds during vCenter failover.

Okay, I’ll share how to install vCHB in next blog, this architecture for your reference:

The number of heartbeat datastores for host is 0, which is less than required: 2

Today I see this error message on one ESXi5.0 host:

The number of heartbeat datastores for host is 0, which is less than required: 2

No any VM is running on the host by DRS or HA, VMware KB gives a solution but too complicate.

Re-configure HA can fixes the problem.

Right click the host -> Click Reconfigure for vSphere HA -> Waiting HA configuration complete.