vSphere HA provides high availability for virtual machines by pooling the virtual machines and the hosts they reside on into a cluster. Hosts in the cluster are monitored and in the event of a failure, the virtual machines on a failed host are restarted on alternate hosts.

When you create a vSphere HA cluster, a single host is automatically elected as the master host. The master host communicates with vCenter Server and monitors the state of all protected virtual machines and of the slave hosts. Different types of host failures are possible, and the master host must detect and appropriately deal with the failure. The master host must distinguish between a failed host and one that is in a network partition or that has become network isolated. The master host uses network and datastore heartbeating to determine the type of failure.