Setup Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster in VMware Workstation

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster

Here you can see how to setup Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 failover cluster in VMware Workstation.This article contains step by step method on Microsoft windows 2008 R2 failover cluster with freenas iscsi disks in VMware workstation just on your computer.  if you search on internet about setting up Windows 2008 R2 cluster in any desktop virtualization software, you can’t find it in one place.

Installation and setup procedure for MS windows 2003 cluster and earlier versions are available on internet, but not Windows 2008 or R2 failover cluster. Everybody including me stuck in one place while setting up Windows 2008 or R2 cluster in Virtualization environment, which is Cluster disk validation.  This is the main issue on MS windows 2008 R2 cluster in VMware workstation or Sun virtual box desktop virtualization software.

Windows 2008 and R2 failover clusters require SCSI-3 persistent reservation target disks as their cluster disks. Now question is how to setup SCSI-3 persistent reservation cluster disks in VMware workstation? I already wrote an article on setting up SCSI-3 persistent reservation cluster  iSCSI disks in VMware workstation using FreeNAS. Before continue reading this post, please read my previous article and create cluster disks in your VMware workstation according to cluster need.

Let’s start the installation and setup of Windows 2008 or R2 Failover cluster in desktop virtualization software VMware workstation.

Required Software

a)      VMware workstation

b)      Windows 2008 or R2 Operating System

c)       FreeNAS

Read more about Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover cluster in normal environment

Prerequisites setup

a)      Installation of Windows 2008 or R2 Operating System in VMware Workstation ( Three Windows 2008 R2 Server virtual machines required.  One as domain controller and other twos as cluster nodes)

b)      Setup domain on one server and join other two servers with domain. Use domain administrator login for servers. ( in this example, domain name is and cluster server names are vm-clus1 and vm-clus2)

c)       Install failover cluster feature in two windows 2008 or R2 servers you are going to setup failover cluster in VMware workstation.

d)      Install second network card in both cluster servers. Give two separate IP addresses, so both servers can communicate through this network also. This network will be used as ‘heart beat’ network for both servers. Make sure, this network name is identical in both servers. (in this example, heart beat network named as ‘ internal’ on both servers)

e)      Create cluster disks in your FreeNAS virtual machine. Read my previous post on creating SCSI-3 persistent reservation target iSCSI disks in FreeNAS.
( in this example,
Qurom disk – 512MB,
Storage disk1- 2GB,
Storage disk 2- 2GB,
Storage disk 3 – 2GB,
and Backup disk 4GB)

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster

Start Setup – Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster in VMware workstation

1)      In first cluster server, Open iSCSI initiator under administrative tools.  Click Yes, if it asks to start the iSCSI service.

2)      Give FreeNAS IP address in Target and press Quick Connect.

It will detect your target disks. Pres Done.

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster

3)      You can see each disk shows Inactive status. Click on each target and press connect until all targets’ status show as connected.

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster

4)      Go to Volumes and Devices tab, and press Auto Configure button. Your all targets will come as disks under this tab.

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster

5)      All iSCSI disks will be listed under disk management is server manager. Right Click on each disk, make it online and Initialize the disks.

Windows 2008 R2 Cluster VMware Workstation

6)      Create simple volumes by right clicking and selecting on each unallocated space. Format the drives and give name for each disk.

7)       After all disks formatted and named successfully, right click on each drives and make them offline again.
see below.

Windows 2008 R2 Cluster VMware Workstation

8)      Now go to second cluster server. Start iSCSI services and detect all target disks as you did in first server. But you do not need to format and name the disks in second server. Here also, make sure all disks detected and made offline in disk management.

9)      Now, start failover cluster manager in features under server manager. Before create cluster, better to validate cluster configuration, especially the tricky part SCSI-3 persistent reservation iSCSI disks which we configured in FreeNAS.

10)   Click on Validate a configuration under management.

Windows 2008 R2 Cluster VMware Workstation

11)   Click Next and browse the cluster servers from active directory or enter full name of servers.

Windows 2008 R2 Cluster VMware Workstation

12)   If you are confident,  run all tests or run part by part. Wait for result…. Here we go.

My all tests passed, and ready for create windows 2008 or R2 cluster in VMware workstation.


13)   Final validate configure result shown below.

desktop virtualization software

Now, create cluster and start making. Other steps are very easy. I don’t need to explain deeply, because cluster validation is very important.

14)   I gave cluster name ‘ vm-cluster’ and separate IP address

desktop virtualization software

15)   That’s it. We have successfully created windows 2008 or R2 failover cluster in vmware workstation using FreeNAS.

desktop virtualization software

Unfortunately, it took one of my 2GB disk as quorum disk. But no problem, we can change it later. That option is available in windows 2008 R2 cluster.

Obviously, server performance will be poor, since we run 3 windows 2008 R2 servers and FreeNAS operating systems inside VMware workstation. This is just for testing and learning purpose only.

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31 thoughts on “Setup Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Failover Cluster in VMware Workstation”

  1. Hi Every one,

    I’ve try to setup a similar conf on Workstation V8, I’ve an issue when validating IP conf :

    Step followed :

    – Create the two SRV.
    – Add to AD ==> install the cluster service ==> add the netcard ==> Error Net conf not valide ???

  2. First of all thanks for the great article. I was thinking I am almost there but I can’t get the iSCSI initiator cannot see the target. When I give the static IP address of FreeNAS VM to the iSCSI Initiator it gives the following message ” the name could not be resolved to an IP Address”

    I have the following set up –
    a) I am using VMWare Workstation 8
    b) FreeNAS version – FreeNAS-8.0.3-RELEASE-p1-x64 (9591) installed on a flash drive
    c) Two volumes on the FreeNAS (Quorum and DataStore)
    d) Static IP
    e) 3VMs that have Windows 2008 R2.One is a DC and the other two are joined to the same domain.
    f) When I run the cluster validation report. Everthing passes except for Storage
    g) Each of the Nodes have two NIC – Private(Heartbeat) and Public Network

    How do I establish connection between Storage and the nodes? Currently I am using Bridged Connection (as my NAT setting) for FreeNAS.
    Should the Storage VM also be part of the domain?
    Any ping statements either from FreeNAS VM or the two nodes don’t seem to work.

    Can you please suggest how to proceed further?


  3. Thanks for such an useful post it really help me in practicing otherwise i was about to forget.. once again thank-you very much and keep posting such nice article.

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