ESXi Host Isolation Response and custom isolation address configuration.

I was reviewing a vSphere design recently and I came across an interesting design choice which I thought I would share.

The architect selected the isolation response of “Leave Powered On” and disabled  “das.usedefaultisolationaddress”  (which is by default enabled) and configured multiple custom isolation addresses using the “das.isolationadressX” advanced setting.

The architect explained that this was done to minimize the chance of a false positive isolation event. In many environments such as ones using IP storage or where the ESXi Management VMKernel default gateway is not highly available, this can be a very good idea.

In this environment, the storage was provided via FC and the default gateway was highly available.

So was there a benefit in changing the default setting of “das.usedefaultisolationaddress” and configuring custom isolation addresses?

The short answer is No.

This is because the isolation response is configured with “Leave Powered On” so regardless of the host being isolated or not, the Virtual Machines will remain powered on.

So keep it simple, if your isolation response is “Leave Powered On” there is no need to change either of these advanced settings.

The below articles show examples of isolation response and custom isolation addresses configurations for IP Storage, FC storage and Hyper-converged environments.

Related Articles

1. Host Isolation Response for IP Storage
2. Host isolation response for FC based Storage
3. Host Isolation Response for a Nutanix Environment

Data Centre Migration Strategies – Part 2 – Lift and Shift

Continuing on from Data Centre Migration Strategies Part 1 – Overview, Part 2 focuses on the “Lift and Shift” method.

I’m sure your reading this and already thinking, “this is the least interesting migration strategy, tell me about vMSC and SRM!” and well, your right, BUT it is important to understand the pros and cons so if you are ever in a situation where you have to use this method (I have on numerous occasions) that the migration is successful.

So what are the pros and cons of this method.


1. No need to purchase equipment for the new data centre
2. The environment should perform as it did at the original data centre following relocation
3.The approach is simple from a technical perspective ie: No new products are required
4. Low direct cost (Note: Point 8 in Cons)
5. Achieves a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of zero (0).


1. The entire environment needs to be fully shut-down
2. The outage for the environment starts from when the servers are shut-down, until completion of operational verification testing at the new datacenter. Note: This may take several days depending on the size of the environment.
3. This method is high risk as the ability to fail back to the original datacenter requires all equipment be physically relocated back. This means the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) cannot be low.
4. The Lift and shift method cannot be tested until at least a significant amount of equipment has been physical relocated
5. In the event of an issue during operational verification at the new data centre, a decision needs to be made to proceed and troubleshoot the issues, OR at what point to fail back.
6. Depending on your environment, a vendor (eg: Storage) may need to revalidate your environment
7. Your migration (and schedule) are heavily dependant on the logistical side of the relocation which may have many factors (eg: Traffic / Weather) which are outside your control which may lead to delays or failed migration.
8. Potentially high indirect cost eg: Downtime, Loss of Business , productivity etc

When to use this method?

1. When purchasing equipment for the new data centre is not possible
2. When extended outages to the environment are acceptable
3. When you have no other options

Recommendations when using “Lift and Shift”

1. Ensure you have accurate wiring and rack diagrams of your datacenter
2. Be prepared with your vendor support contact details on hand as it is common following relocation of equipment to have hardware failures
3. Ensure you have an accurate Operational Verification document which tests every part of your environment from Layer 1 (Physical) all the way to Layer 7 (Application)
4. Label EVERYTHING as you disconnect it at the original datacenter
5. Prior to starting your data centre  migration, discuss and agree on a timeline for the migration and at what point and under what situation do you initiate a fail back.
6. Migrate the minimum amount of physical equipment that is required to get your environment back on-line and do your Operational Verification, then on successful completion of your Operational Verification migrate the remaining equipment. This allows for faster fail-back in the event Operational Verification fails.

In Part 3, we discuss Data centre migrations using VMware Site Recovery Manager. (Coming soon)


Example Architectural Decision – Host Isolation Response for a Nutanix Environment

Problem Statement

What are the most suitable HA / host isolation response when using Nutanix?


1. vSphere 5.0 or greater
2. Two x 10GB Network interfaces are shared for Nutanix Storage Traffic and Virtual Machine Traffic


1. Minimize the chance of a false positive isolation response
2. Ensure in the event the storage is unavailable that virtual machines are promptly shutdown to enable HA to recover the VMs in a timely manner (where other hosts are unaffected by isolation) and to prevent a “split brain” scenario
3. Ensure maximum availability

Architectural Decision

Turn off the default isolation address and configure the below specified isolation addresses, which check connectivity to multiple Nutanix Controller VMs (CVMs) on the IP Storage VLAN.

Configure the following Isolation addresses

das.isolationaddress1 : NDFS Cluster IP Address

Configure Host Isolation Response to: Power Off

For Nutanix Controller VMs override the cluster setting and configure Host Isolation Response to “Leave Powered On”


1. The ESXi Management traffic along with the Virtual machine traffic and inter-Nutanix node storage traffic is running over 2 x 10GB connections. Using the ESXi management gateway (default isolation address) to check for isolation is not suitable as the management network can be offline without impacting the IP storage or data networks. This situation could lead to false positives isolation responses.
2. The isolation addresses chosen tests IP storage connectivity over the converged 10Gb network and in the event this is unavailable, there is no point testing further connectivity as Virtual machines cannot function without their storage
3. In the event the Nutanix cluster IP address cannot be reached by ICMP the Node will not be able to properly function. As such, triggering isolation response and powering off the VMs based on this criteria is logical as the VMs will not be able to function under these conditions.
4. In the event the NDFS Cluster IP address does not respond to ICMP on the Management interfaces it is likely there has been an isolation event OR a catastrophic failure in the environment, either to the network, or the storage controllers themselves, in which case the safest option is to Power Off the VMs.
5. In the event the isolation response is triggered and the isolation does not impact all hosts within the cluster, the VMs can be restarted by HA onto a surviving host and resume functioning
6. Using the Nutanix Controller VM (CVM) IP address ( for the Isolation address is not suitable as this address exists on each ESXi hosts and as such it is not a good candidate for isolation detection as the host will always be able to find this address even when the network is offline due to the CVM being local to the host
7. The Nutanix Controller VM accesses local storage and can continue to run locally even in an isolation event. When the isolated event is over, the CVM will then regain connectivity to the other CVMs in the Nutanix cluster.
8. Shutting down the CVM would only increase the recovery time once the isolation even is over and has no added benefits.


1. In the event the host cannot reach any of the isolation addresses, virtual machines will be powered off.
2. Initial cluster setup would require the vSphere administrator to override the Cluster settings for each Controller VM. Note: This is a one time task (Set & Forget)


1. Set Host isolation response to “Leave Powered On”
2. Do not use Datastore heartbeating
3. Use the default isolation address
4. Leave the CVM on the default cluster setting and “Shutdown” on isolation

Related Articles

1. VMware Host Isolation Response in a Nutanix Environment #NoSAN

2. Storage DRS and Nutanix – To use, or not to use, that is the question?

3. VMware HA and IP Storage