Shutting Down vCenter Server with vCenter Heartbeat does not trigger a Failover!

I got this question from a customer regarding vCenter Server behavior with vCenter Heartbeat installed. Will an automatic failover be triggered if you shutdown the Active vCenter Server? My initial answer is Yes it should but the customer told me it did not failover when they shutdown their active vCenter server. I quickly checked the documentations and the closest I found is this:

Shutting Down Windows

Always stop vCenter Server Heartbeat before attempting to shut down Microsoft Windows. If an attempt is made to shut down Windows without stopping vCenter Server Heartbeat, a confirmation message is displayed. When the Windows Shutdown confirmation message is displayed, click Cancel and stop vCenter Server Heartbeat before attempting Windows shut down again. 

There was no mention of a failover. Out of curiousity, I tested it in my lab, and boy the customer was right! A failover will not be triggered. The documentations said a confirmation message will be displayed but I did not see it, the server just shuts down normally and no failover took place.

So make sure to do a manual failover before you shutdown the active vCenter Server or else you will be on for an extended downtime.

So when will an automatic failover be triggered?

1. System crash or hardware failure – i simulated it by doing a hard poweroff of the Primary vCenter server and it worked flawlessly

2. Network Failure – simulated this by disconnecting both the Management and Channel Nics.

3. Protected service failure – If the vCenter and other protected services stopped, an attempt will be performed to restart them in the same node, but if it fails again then a failover will take place.


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