February 10th I participated in a VMware WebEx on their new vCenter addon, vCenter Server Heartbeat and today the news will be released in Cannes at VMWorld Europe 2009.

vCenter Server Heartbeat is an important addon which creates high availability for vCenter Server. vCenter Server Heartbeat monitors and protects VMware’s management platform against network, hardware, OS or application issues. This fully protects the infrastructure which helps VMware users to deploy critical applications on VMware.

The product is meant for protecting physical vCenter servers mainly, as ~60% of vCenter implementations are still on physical hardware, but it also adds extra protection to virtual vCenter implementation.

It monitors and replicates vCenter settings, plugins, database, licensing server and allows a complete failover to another vCenter server. It realizes a more granular protection of vCenter than HA does and even protects against network failures. The setup is not very complex unlike setting up a MSCS solution. So this is the long awaited solution where we can finally use a second vCenter server.

Architecturally, Server Heartbeat is implemented on active/passive vCenter server clones, running on physical or virtual machines. In addition to server and network hardware, Server Heartbeat monitors the actual vCenter instance, its back-end database, and the underlying operating system. In the case of failure, the passive node takes over, and Heartbeat restarts the vCenter service. Failover can occur over both LANs and WANs.

Server Heartbeat will protect only vCenter instances running on Microsoft Windows, using Microsoft SQL Server as its back-end database; Linux and Oracle databases will not be supported in this version. Heartbeat will be available for vCenter version 2.5, and the next version when it ships later this year.

This is a paid addon for vCenter, cost is $9.995 for vCenter Heartbeat only and $12.995 for the vCenter Availability Acceleration kit. This is the price per protected vCenter server including the database on the same or seperate server.