Microsoft Cluster running on VMware ESXi – Cluster in a Box

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Microsoft Cluster running on VMware ESXi - Cluster in a Box

In Today’s post, I would like to show you how to configure Microsoft Clustering across Virtual Machines with shared disk - so-called Cluster in a Box(CiB). Typical use case for Microsoft Cluster / Failover Cluster is to have cluster nodes with shared storage. Typical use case for Cluster in a Box is when you have to provide availability on Operating System level for application/service and you can’t use Raw Device Mapping in your environment.

Environment and configuration

VMware ESXi - version 5.5.0 build 1623387 (Update 1)

Operating System - Microsoft Server 2012 R2 Standard

Cluster - Two Virtual Machines with shared disk

Virtual Machines - each Virtual Machine with two network interfaces Lan and Cluster.

DRS rule - it is mandatory to have both Virtual Machines on the same host. I created rule Keep Virtual Machines Together.

Prerequisites configuration

I joined two Virtual Machine into a domain and I used following network configuration:


  • LAN:
  • Netmask:
  • Gateway:
  • Cluster:
  • Netmask:


  • LAN:
  • Netmask:
  • Gateway:
  • Cluster:
  • Netmask:

I added new SCSI Controller - LSI Logic SAS and I changed SCSI Bus Sharing from **None **to Virtual.

Cluster in a box 1

This allows us to share attached disk to another Virtual Machine.

Cluster in a box 2

Now we need to add the new disk to Virtual Machine which will be shared across Virtual Machines. New disk type must be Thick provision eager zeroed. Otherwise, you will be not able to use Microsoft clustering.

Cluster in a box 3

We have to do same steps with second cluster node - in my case WMCLU02. I added new SCSI controller with  SCSI Bus Sharing type Virtual.

Now we need to add **existing drive **from first cluster node to second cluster node to SCSI controller.

Cluster in a box 4

We have to assign it to SCSI controller which type is Virtual.

Cluster in a box 5

The first test of configuration is to start both VM and check if the disk is seen on both cluster nodes.

Cluster in a box 6

After logging in into both cluster nodes I created Quorum drive and it is visible on both sides.

Cluster in a box 7

Microsoft Clustering configuration

Start server management console and in **Features **select **Failover Clustering **and accept other features to install.

Cluster in a box 8

Click Install and wait for the wizard to finish.

Start Failover Cluster Manager and click Create Cluster.

Cluster in a box 9

Add cluster nodes and click next.

Cluster in a box 10

You will be asked to run Cluster validation wizard. Use it to check if all components are configured well.

Cluster in a box 11

Selected Run all test (recommended)

Cluster in a box 12

Enter cluster name and provide Cluster IP address.

Cluster in a box 13

Wait for Cluster wizard to finish.

Cluster in a box 14

As you see on screenshot cluster was successfully created.

Cluster in a box 15

The last thing we have to do is to adjust networks in the cluster. We will ensure that cluster network (heartbeat) will be not used in normal communication. Go to Networks, select Cluster Network 1 and expand network connections.

Cluster in a box 16

On the network which will be used for cluster heartbeat go to properties and deselect Allow client to connect to this network. You can rename network itself - this is not mandatory but might be useful when troubleshooting issues.

Cluster in a box 17

The second network should have Allow client to connect through this network checkbox selected.

I didn’t configure any roles because this exceeds my knowledge. There is plenty of other sources where you can find guides how to add roles to the cluster.

Here you can find useful links from VMware and Microsoft about clustering with Microsoft technologies.

VMware: Microsoft Clustering on VMware vSphere: Guidelines for supported configurations

VMware: Setup for Failover Clustering and Microsoft Cluster Service

Microsoft: Failover Clustering Overview