Running domain controller as VMs on a hyper-v 2012 cluster


  • Hi gurus

    I have a question. I want to run two VMs on a Hyper-v cluster. I want to make these VMs as domain controller and leverage the cluster. Can I do this? I have not been able find any information on this. The hyper-v is running on windows 2012, but it can be upgraded to R2 if there are any benefits associated with this.

    Any help will be appreciated.


    Friday, March 14, 2014 3:49 AM


All replies

  • Hi,

    Sure, you can place your domain controllers in Hyper-V cluster.

    Friday, March 14, 2014 5:47 AM
  • Hi,

    you can put domain controller vm in the cluster but make sure it did not hold any FSMO roles or not PDC roles.

    let say, if you put pdc roles (DC Vm) on the cluster , then you cannot boot up/access the clluster shared volume after power failure. The recommendation is to have at least 1 physical dc.

    For other consideration, please refer to here:-

    Lai (My blog:-

    Friday, March 14, 2014 7:28 AM
    • Marked as answer by Dipsg Tuesday, March 18, 2014 10:37 PM
    Friday, March 14, 2014 7:51 AM
  • Hi Dipsg,

    the link to the KB article is for the PRE 2012 Versions, so technical no Problem running virtual DCs, it is more a Design Question if you need a second DC on a other Platform, never install real physical servers if not really needed or recommended by the APP Vendor.

    I also make one Workload per Server virtual because you then are really mobile in case of getting new Server HW and you can live migrate that VM and even doing DR via Hyper-V Replica at no additional costs !!!

    So back to your question, no Problem running the hyper-v without DC, you ned a running AD when you want to start livemigration of VMs.


    Friday, March 14, 2014 9:41 AM
  • Hi,

    Additional, you can deploy your DC on failover cluster, but we recommend that your clustered servers be member servers. If they are, you need an additional server that acts as the domain controller in the domain that contains your failover cluster.

    And same time, you should attempt to avoid creating potential single points of failure when you plan your virtual domain controller deployment. You can avoid introducing potential single points of failure by implementing system redundancy. For example, consider the following recommendations while keeping in mind the potential for increases in the cost of administration:

    1. Run at least two virtualized domain controllers per domain on different virtualization hosts, which reduces the risk of losing all domain controllers if a single virtualization host fails.

    2. As recommended for other technologies, diversify the hardware (using different CPUs, motherboards, network adapters, or other hardware) on which the domain controllers are running. Hardware diversification limits the damage that might be caused by a malfunction that is specific to a vendor configuration, a driver, or a single piece or type of hardware.

    3. If possible, domain controllers should be running on hardware that is located in different regions of the world. This helps to reduce the impact of a disaster or failure that affects a site at which the domain controllers are hosted.

    4. Maintain physical domain controllers in each of your domains. This mitigates the risk of a virtualization platform malfunction that affects all host systems that use that platform.

    The related KB:

    Hyper-V: Using Hyper-V and Failover Clustering

    Running Domain Controllers in Hyper-V

    Hope this helps.

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    • Marked as answer by Dipsg Tuesday, March 18, 2014 10:37 PM
    Monday, March 17, 2014 8:15 AM
  • Hi Alex/Udo/Alexey

    Thanks a lot for your answers and apologies for the delay in responding. I have gone through all your replies, and they are very helpful. So from what I can gather, I can run the DC on a hyper-v cluster but need to follow certain guidelines. One of my colleagues told me that he would recommend me to create two DC. One domain controller as HAVM and the other which keeps the VM files on the local disk. Would that be correct? Should I create the HAVM using failover cluster manager and the other VM through hyper-v manager? If not how can I differentiate between HAVM and a normal VM.

    Looking forward to hearing from you. 

    Thanks again.


    Tuesday, March 18, 2014 10:57 PM
  • Personally, I do not create any of my DCs as highly available.  Even if I install them on cluster nodes, I always install them to local storage.  You should always have a minimum of two DCs.  There is no real need to create any of them as HAVMs, because DCs have their own built-in HA.

    .:|:.:|:. tim

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:36 PM
  • Thanks Tim, yes to be honest, I didn't understand the logic behind creating a HAVM when my colleague told me so. Thanks for pointing it out. Just a quick unrelated question. How do I create a HAVM? Whenever a VM is created using Failover Cluster Manager, does it automatically become a HAVM? If I create a vm using hyper-v manager does it then become a not highly available vm? Or is it that any vm created on the cluster is a HAVM as long as they have shared storage?

    Thanks a lot.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014 1:48 AM
  • VMs created on the Hyper-V Manager are down when you have to patch that Host and reboot it.
    Putting VMs into the Cluster gives you alle the good things what a Cluster are for, HA.

    A failover cluster is a group of servers that work together to maintain high availability of applications and services. If one of the servers, or nodes, fails, another node in the cluster can take over its workload without any downtime (this process is known as failover).

    To get a VM in the Cluster you normaly use the FailOver Cluster Manager, but you also can add and remove a VM from the Cluster without Downtime for the VM if you created it with the Hyper-V Maanger.

    To add a VM to a Cluster the Config and Data must be on a Shared Storage which is accessible from all Cluster Nodes.

    My recommendations are not to Mix HA and Non HA VMs on Hosts/Nodes, means never create a VM on a Hype-V Cluster Node on local Storage, i know a lot of the Guys are doing this but always makes thinks more complicate, when this Node has a HW Problem you are out of Business and so on.

    I would always start with a 2 Node Cluster for the HA VMs and a Standalone Host for others , like the 2nd DC.

    Just my way of doing things.



    Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:52 AM