Use the following steps to set up Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS) as an availability solution for vCenter Server.


  • Create a virtual machine (VM) with one of the following guest operating systems:
    • Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter
    • Windows 2012 R2 Datacenter
  • Add two raw device mapping (RDM) disks to this VM. These disks must be mounted when they are added and the RDM disks must also be independent and persistent.
  • Create a separate SCSI controller with the bus sharing option set to physical.
    Note: Since this configuration uses a SCSI controller with the Bus Sharing option set to Physical, backup and restore is not supported. You must to use a host-based agent for backup or restore.
  • Set the Virtual Device Node to newly created SCSI controller 1.
  • Open the MSCS drive and create two folders: one for VC data and another for VC installation.
  • Install a Platform Services Controller instance before you install vCenter Server and provide its FQDN during the installation.
Figure 1. MSCS Cluster for vCenter Server High Availability
MSCS Cluster for vCenter Server Availability
Note: MSCS as an availability solution for vCenter Server is provided only for management nodes of vCenter Server (M node). For infrastructure nodes, customers must deploy multiple N nodes for high availability. You cannot have M and N nodes on the same VM for MSCS protection.


  1. Power on the VM.
  2. Format the two RDM disks, assign them drive letters, and convert them to MBR.
  3. Using Windows > Server Manager > Features, install .net.
  4. Install vCenter Server on one of the RDM disks and set the start option to manual.
  5. Power off the VM.
  6. Detach the RDM disks.
    Detaching the RDM disks is not a permanent deletion. Do not select Delete from disk and do not delete the vmdk files.
  7. Clone the VM. Do not select the Customize the operating system option.
    Do not use the default or custom sysprep file, so that the clone has the same SID.
    Note: Generalization by sysprep is not available when you create a clone VM as the secondary node of a cluster. If you use generalization by sysprep, failover of services to secondary node might fail. Duplicate SIDs do not cause problems when hosts are part of a domain and only domain user accounts are used. We do not recommended installing third party software other than vCenter Server on the cluster node.
  8. Attach the shared RDMs to both VMs and power them on.
  9. Change the host name and IP address on the first VM (VM1).
    Note the original IP address and host name that were used at the time of the installation of vCenter Server on VM1. This information is used to assign a cluster role IP.
  10. Install failover clustering on both nodes.
  11. To create an MSCS cluster on VM1, include both nodes in the cluster. Also select the validation option for the new cluster.
  12. To start configuring roles, select Generic Service and click Next.
  13. Select VMware Service Lifecycle Manager from the listed services and click Next.
  14. Enter the host name and IP used for the VM1. Then assign the RDM to the role.
  15. In the Replicate Registry Settings wizard, add the registry key SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\VMwareDirectoryService and click Next.
  16. Using Add Resource, add the VMware AFD and VMware vCenter Configuration services to the role.
  17. Stop and restart the role.


You have created an MSCS cluster that can support vCenter Server availability.

What to do next

After you have created the MSCS cluster, verify that failover is occurring by powering off the VM hosting vCenter Server (VM1).In a few minutes, verify that the services are running on the other VM (VM2).