Hyper-V High availability? or only VMware



  • EDIT: For those that wander in... the answer is YES! Hyper-V is capable of High availability but not by itself. You will need a DAS, SAN, or vSAN for storage.

    Most cluster are in 2 nodes for SMB. The settings will involve Hyper V server 2012 R2 + storage. The ideal is to have the Hyper-V run off separate storage (SD CARD or USB) and have VM VHD reside on the storage. With proper configuration on Failover the VM should spin up within seconds the moment heartbeat detected the other server has failed. YES there is downtime but it is very minimal and as the price tag of [FREE] you cannot argue with it. If you need zero downtime then you will need a much more HA or redundancy solution which will cost you more $$$ Cheers!

    Original post:
    [This is the post I posted on Spiceworks. I like to expand the feedback so per SAM suggestion here is the original post]

    This debate has been going on forever and I have seen multiple comparison between the two. What I am looking for is the high availability, or no downtime/live migration, when a host need to be taken down. I know Hyper-V has cluster but is it the same as high availability as VMware?

    Our IT consultant recommended 2 servers and 1 SAN + VMware Essential Pro. 2 Servers run us about $2.5k each. 1 San run us about $10-12K for 2.4tb. VmWare Essential Pro license is about $5k. That totaled to $20K! (exclude labor)

    I am trying to save some money here and wonder if Hyper-V can be the answer? For our infrastructure we have 2 mission critical servers. 1st is file server. 2nd is for compliance and accounting application. We want to have both server running at all time. Putting both servers as virtual instance onto the same host is not ideal to my boss (who is going to pay for all these stuff).

    Ultimately, I am trying to prove that Hyper-V is better in our scenario and we do not need to spend a fortune for it.

    Hyper-V clustering seem ideal but can it achieve what VMware high availability does?


    these are some link that I have gone through before posting this question:

    Hyper-V | Failover clustering

    Hyper-V Clustering vs Hyper-v Replicate (I did not go through all the linked sites..)

    Server 2012 r2 Hyper-V failover clustering - does it require a SAN?

    Hyper-V Cluster Local Storage

    Hyper-V cluster + external SAN ?

    Starwind & Hyper-v Best practice


    Budget is still a thing so I cannot spend a lot. I'm trying to get a solution that is less than $15K total (exclude any labor).

    Storage space: 2TB used.. so 4-6TB in RAID10 (SAS10K or SATA7.2K for Hyper-V HA?) 2 hosts with RAM 32GB on each. CPU single E5-2620-v3.

    Any thought?



  • Hi @LAH3385,

    As said on the SW topic, your IT Consultant has recommended an Inverted Pyramid of Doom. Likely on RAID 5 to boot. I'd fire them if I had the choice.

    All of the major hypervisors offer High Availability, only ESXi requires you to pay through the nose for features that are free with the other top 3. Xen HyperV and KVM.


  • Service Provider

    First question is always: Are you sure that you need high availability?

    HA costs money, one way or another, and requires a lot more than just products to make it happen. One of my favourite quotes in the industry is from @John-Nicholson:

    High Availability is something that you do, not something that you buy.

    His meaning is that just getting the HA product name from VMware or Microsoft doesn't mean anything, your system design, your management of it, your power supply, your datacenter, your HVAC, your generators, etc. need to all be part of the solution. HA is the result of lots and lots of things coming together.



  • What I mean by High Availability is for our production team to keep on working without interruption. Currently our file server is on the same server as DC AD DHCP DNS, etc... Back in July, AD got corrupted and went into BSOD loop. This cause our production to freeze for half a day before we are able to get the backup restored.

    That incident cost us potential thousands of dollar in only half day. If it happens again and it goes down for days then we may be out of business. What that said, we are looking into redundancy servers or high availability.

    We are not 24/7 but at least 6a-8p hours M-Sat.

    What do we want? We want a server that can be a RAID 5 but for server. We want a system that will allow our production team to keep on doing what they need to do without interruption. We are not looking into Apocalypse-proof so we won't be investing in a generator. Any major or wide area outage is kind of OK since it will mostly be out of our control. But for anthing that is within our control we like to be able to prevent it as effective as possible.

    I am looking into Xenserver at the moment.
    Thanks all



  • While Scott is right, it may be best to pick one thing at a time and improve its redundancy and reliability, and keep moving towards true HA. To start with, Hyper-V 2012R2 is nice, and you get features that help you plan for HA thrown in for free. For Hyper-V 2012 R2, you don't have to have a SAN (shared storage) to get the ability to perform planned Maintenance. You don't have to set them up in a cluster.

    (Short, Short Description): Just have more than one Hyper-V server and tell it to move the VM from Server A to Server B, and wait for the transfer(s) to complete before you shut down Server A. (This can take along time, depending on the size of your VMs). There's a few more steps than that, but that's really all there is to it.

    If you really want shared storage, I think StarWind would work well for you with only 2 servers. They do have a free version available if you want to use it. Keep in mind if you do that, you'll need the same amount of storage in BOTH servers. It will greatly speed up your Live Migrations, just like a SAN would while keeping more of the reliability of local storage (@scottalanmiller can correct me here if he thinks I'm wrong :-)


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    What I mean by High Availability is for our production team to keep on working without interruption. Currently our file server is on the same server as DC AD DHCP DNS, etc... Back in July, AD got corrupted and went into BSOD loop. This cause our production to freeze for half a day before we are able to get the backup restored.

    That incident cost us potential thousands of dollar in only half day. If it happens again and it goes down for days then we may be out of business. What that said, we are looking into redundancy servers or high availability.

    We are not 24/7 but at least 6a-8p hours M-Sat.

    What do we want? We want a server that can be a RAID 5 but for server. We want a system that will allow our production team to keep on doing what they need to do without interruption. We are not looking into Apocalypse-proof so we won't be investing in a generator. Any major or wide area outage is kind of OK since it will mostly be out of our control. But for anthing that is within our control we like to be able to prevent it as effective as possible.

    I am looking into Xenserver at the moment.
    Thanks all

    You don't need HA. You need better designed systems.


  • Banned

    @DustinB3403 said:

    As said on the SW topic, your IT Consultant has recommended an Inverted Pyramid of Doom.

    Keep in mind Having a SAN is not the only thing that makes it an Inverted Pyramid of Doom. It's having only 1 SAN. You can infact have a good SAN setup with multiple SAN Devices, replication etc. However this is far outside of the budget of most [any] SMBs. It's better for most SMBs to just use replicated local storage. Our SAN systems here are more than most companies whole IT budget.



  • @Jason

    Oh I totally agree, but his IT Consultant literally said 2 Compute nodes 1 SAN that is an IPOD.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    Our IT consultant recommended 2 servers and 1 SAN + VMware Essential Pro. 2 Servers run us about $2.5k each. 1 San run us about $10-12K for 2.4tb. VmWare Essential Pro license is about $5k. That totaled to $20K!

    At $20K you can't even get a highly available SAN, they start at around $30K - $35K minimum. So this solution would not even remotely be highly available for a few reasons:

    • It's a low availability architecture with a Single Point of Failure
    • That SPOF is cheap and fragile, so less reliable than a normal server

    Put together, the proposed solution is very far from HA today. Even if it was affordable or within your budget, this does not remotely match your stated objective. It actually moves you away from high availability well into low availability.

    I'm not saying that you don't realize this I just want to make sure that it is clear that that proposed solution is totally backwards from what you wanted to get.


  • Service Provider

    With solid backup methods, I do not consider a SAN by itself a major issue in a IPOD. It you need compute node more than storage, this can be a viable solution as long as things are backed up in case of failure and able to be recovered. (Unitrends, Veeam, Altara, etc.).

    Yes it is still a SPoF. But you always have a SPoF someplace in an SMB because the normal SMB simply cannot afford anything else.

    That said, I still think a SAN is generally a complete waste of money for any SMB.


  • Service Provider

    All four enterprise hypervisors (Xen, KVM, HyperV and ESXi) do full failover options like you are looking for. That part is not a deciding factor between them. You are totally free to choose based on HA needs.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    All four enterprise hypervisors (Xen, KVM, HyperV and ESXi) do full failover options like you are looking for. That part is not a deciding factor between them. You are totally free to choose based on HA needs.

    It is my understanding that Xen (XenServer), KVM, and Hyper-V do the HA for free. VMware wants an arm (and maybe a leg too) for the HA features.


  • Service Provider

    @JaredBusch said:

    With solid backup methods, I do not consider a SAN by itself a major issue in a IPOD.

    It's not a "major issue" per se, unless you count the factors like "does not meet stated goal" and the cost versus doing something much better. The average (by far) SMB can use an IPOD without being in any "danger." But wasting money is always a factor. If the solution doubles or triples the cost I would call that an issue itself. It's not that it is "so dangerous", just that it is more dangerous than a far cheaper solution.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    All four enterprise hypervisors (Xen, KVM, HyperV and ESXi) do full failover options like you are looking for. That part is not a deciding factor between them. You are totally free to choose based on HA needs.

    It is my understanding that Xen (XenServer), KVM, and Hyper-V do the HA for free. VMware wants an arm (and maybe a leg too) for the HA features.

    That's correct. HA features are completely free from every vendor except VMware.


  • Service Provider

    @scottalanmiller said:

    @JaredBusch said:

    With solid backup methods, I do not consider a SAN by itself a major issue in a IPOD.

    It's not a "major issue" per se, unless you count the factors like "does not meet stated goal" and the cost versus doing something much better. The average (by far) SMB can use an IPOD without being in any "danger." But wasting money is always a factor. If the solution doubles or triples the cost I would call that an issue itself. It's not that it is "so dangerous", just that it is more dangerous than a far cheaper solution.

    Which I stated later in my post.

    @JaredBusch said:

    That said, I still think a SAN is generally a complete waste of money for any SMB.


  • Service Provider

    @JaredBusch said:

    That said, I still think a SAN is generally a complete waste of money for any SMB.

    Exactly. 95% of the risk is in overspending, technical debt or become reliant on a third party to handle what could be simple and internal. But definitely, with a good backup and general data protection strategy, HA is massive overkill for a normal SMB so the risk "anti-HA" IPOD / SAN design generally only introduces a kind of risk that probably wasn't important anyway.


  • Service Provider

    @JaredBusch said:

    Which I stated later in my post.

    Sorry, was still typing. Been lot of interruptions here this morning.


  • Service Provider

    In comparing Hyper-V and VMware, there is only practical approach today for an HA cluster at two nodes and that is using StarWind (which is free) to handle the replicated local storage.

    StarWind is more stable and performant on Hyper-V than on VMware. This is a result of an architectural difference that is VMware's decision to not allow StarWind into the kernel space. The result is that given VMware does not have an equivalent product, in the two node space Hyper-V's technology is just as good but the available components and real world options put Hyper-V as a clearly superior technical option than VMware even if VMware was free, which it is not.


  • Service Provider

    The only two reasonable considerations for two node HA clusters is Hyper-V + StarWind or XenServer + HA-Lizard. Both do two nodes, are totally free and have no extra licensing concerns to make things complex.

    Also, here in MangoLassi, you have direct access to Microsoft, VMware, Starwind and HA-Lizard!



  • @JaredBusch

    Can you shade some light based on the requirement I stated earlier. I don't need us to have our own life support (although it would be nice to have such feature) but we should not stop our production due to internal issue that is preventable. Which is what this post is all about. True HA seem to cost both arms, legs, and some limbs for SMB. If we need to get 3 servers with more storage then I will take that into consideration. As SAM pointed out:

    @scottalanmiller said:
    Exactly. 95% of the risk is in overspending, technical debt or become reliant on a third party to handle what could be simple and internal. But definitely, with a good backup and general data protection strategy, HA is massive overkill for a normal SMB so the risk "anti-HA" IPOD / SAN design generally only introduces a kind of risk that probably wasn't important anyway.

    I do not want to overspend on something that can be done and deliver similar result for less. I have many more area I could use some more budget on.

    @scottalanmiller said:
    In comparing Hyper-V and VMware, there is only practical approach today for an HA cluster at two nodes and that is using StarWind (which is free) to handle the replicated local storage.

    StarWind is more stable and performant on Hyper-V than on VMware. This is a result of an architectural difference that is VMware's decision to not allow StarWind into the kernel space. The result is that given VMware does not have an equivalent product, in the two node space Hyper-V's technology is just as good but the available components and real world options put Hyper-V as a clearly superior technical option than VMware even if VMware was free, which it is not.

    What kind of HDD type is recommended for Starwind VSAN? RAID10 with at least 3TB storage space. SATA7.2K or SAS 10K/15K? I doubt we can afford SSD.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    Ultimately, I am trying to prove that Hyper-V is better in our scenario and we do not need to spend a fortune for it.

    The onus should be completely on VMware to show how it is even a viable option, which I don't believe that it is. It is about $5K more and even at that higher price it delivers a technically inferior solution. VMware carries no benefits here, only technical and financial downsides. I'd question how it would even make the consideration list let alone how better solutions justify against it. Hyper-V should only need to show that it is better than XenServer. VMware is the fourth option, the "only when nothing else is available" option.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    Budget is still a thing so I cannot spend a lot. I'm trying to get a solution that is less than $15K total (exclude any labor).

    Storage space: 2TB used.. so 4-6TB in RAID10 (SAS10K or SATA7.2K for Hyper-V HA?) 2 hosts with RAM 32GB on each. CPU single E5-2620-v3.

    While high for your budget, you might also want to look at Scale. Their entry point solution is very similar in hardware here, can be delivered in a two compute node and three storage node configuration for Windows users like yourself, is full HA and is designed to be super simple so that zero labor or consulting would be needed. It's much higher than your desired price point and obviously much higher than what you could spend with other solutions. But if you want something where third party vendor support would never be needed, it is well worth considering.

    @craig-theriac


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    Hyper-V clustering seem ideal but can it achieve what VMware high availability does?

    Reverse that, can VMware achieve what Hyper-V does here? And the answer is: not quite.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    We want to have both server running at all time. Putting both servers as virtual instance onto the same host is not ideal to my boss.

    Two things to point out here:

    1. With the SAN solution, everything would have been dependent on a single host. So the proposed solution is ruled out by your boss, I presume?
    2. This is not goal level thinking. This is focusing on redundancy as a proxy for reliability. Make sure to read that link.

  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    What I mean by High Availability is for our production team to keep on working without interruption. Currently our file server is on the same server as DC AD DHCP DNS, etc... Back in July, AD got corrupted and went into BSOD loop. This cause our production to freeze for half a day before we are able to get the backup restored.

    That incident cost us potential thousands of dollar in only half day. If it happens again and it goes down for days then we may be out of business. What that said, we are looking into redundancy servers or high availability.

    AD is HA at the application level. Even if you have the most HA Hyper-V or VMware platform you would never have AD utilize it. AD would always be set to run as normal. That you ran into this issue would not be resolved by having HA and in this particular case could have been resolved by having two AD VMs on a single host.

    In fact, if you had full VMware Fault Tolerance, your AD BSOD would have replicated to the other host and your VMware would have extended the problem rather than solving it! This is a great example of how HA is something you do, not something that you buy. You need to design your HA solution workload by workload. Tools like Hyper-V can be really important parts of that design, but rarely will it be the primary one.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    @JaredBusch

    Can you shade some light based on the requirement I stated earlier.

    I just skimmed the SW thread. Your answer is drop the entire project and fire the current IT consultant.

    Then start over with someone who is not out to screw you over.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    What do we want? We want a server that can be a RAID 5 but for server.

    Just be aware that the issue you described would be subject to the same kinds of issues that RAID is. In your example, AD failed above the platform level, the OS itself failed. So the platform HA would have done nothing to protect you. Platform level HA protects exclusively against hardware failures, not software ones. That's why you only do that when application level HA is not available or reasonable - because it only solves half or less of the issues.

    In the same way RAID is great - until the issue is files deleted from the disk, cryptoware or file system corruption. RAID will, just like the HA virtualization solutions, replicate the problem to all nodes instantly leaving you with nothing working no matter how much you spend on the HA.

    These are cases where application level HA would solve most problems and a good backup system would solve others.



  • Love this thread - it's finally getting down to "thinking about the problem, not just choosing a solution based on those already given to you"

    You mentioned that you had an outage because you had AD corruption. What caused that corruption? How will having anything you've asked for so far prevent or solve this problem in the future?

    Things we don't know - Did you only have one AD server? If yes, would having a second AD server have solved this issue?
    You've told us your current file storage is on the AD server itself, OK that's easy to solve, make sure to put it on it's own VM in the future. You might find yourself needing a lot of Windows licensing here depending on your setup. If you're expecting a full fail over situation, you'll need the same number of licenses for each server. Assuming you only need one VM per host, you'll need to purchase 1 Windows Server license per host, but, if you need two or more, you'll need at least two Windows Server licenses per host to allow the fail over/maintenance to happen legally.

    Also, do you need real HA? Can you afford 10 mins of down time while you bootup another VM on the other host? etc etc.


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    I do not want to overspend on something that can be done and deliver similar result for less. I have many more area I could use some more budget on.

    Nor do we want you to. In many cases this will come down to not buying more or little more but rather planning better, changing how and what you implement and being far more thoughtful rather than look at HA as a "solution." HA as a concept is awesome and you should always work towards it, all other factors being equal.

    So that's what we need to do. It might make sense to make a separate thread for a number of workloads (maybe one thread per workload) and link here for a higher level description, and we can break down each workload and how it should or could be addressed.

    Active Directory, for example, needs to be thought about uniquely. It's actually the easiest to deal with as normal SMBs all have HA for AD - but typically the "vendors salesguy idea" of what to do not only triples your cost, it very often breaks the HA you already had!


  • Service Provider

    @LAH3385 said:

    What kind of HDD type is recommended for Starwind VSAN? RAID10 with at least 3TB storage space. SATA7.2K or SAS 10K/15K? I doubt we can afford SSD.

    If VMware is on the table, you can afford SSDs no problem. Not that you need them, just considering the one guarantees the budget for the other, if that makes sense.

    StarWind does not recommend RAID 10 normally. Normally they would push towards RAID 6 or less.

    Adding in @StarWind_Software @KOOLER @original_anvil



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