When you add a virtual machine or template to a protection group, Site Recovery Manager creates a placeholder virtual machine at the recovery site.

Site Recovery Manager reserves a place for protected virtual machines in the inventory of the recovery site by creating a subset of virtual machine files. Site Recovery Manager uses that subset of files as a placeholder to register a virtual machine with vCenter Server on the recovery site. The presence of placeholder in the recovery site inventory provides a visual indication to Site Recovery Manager administrators that the virtual machines are protected. The placeholders also indicate to vCenter Server administrators that the virtual machines can power on and start consuming local resources when Site Recovery Manager tests or runs a recovery plan.

When you recover a protected virtual machine by testing or running a recovery plan, Site Recovery Manager replaces its placeholder with the recovered virtual machine and powers it on according to the settings of the recovery plan. After a recovery plan test finishes, Site Recovery Manager restores the placeholders and powers off the virtual machines as part of the cleanup process.

When you protect a template on the protected site, Site Recovery Manager creates the placeholder template by creating a virtual machine in the default resource pool of a compute resource and then by marking that virtual machine as a template. Site Recovery Manager selects the compute resource from the set of available compute resources in the datacenter on the recovery site to which the folder of the virtual machine on the protected site is mapped. All the hosts in the selected compute resource must have access to at least one placeholder datastore. At least one host in the compute resource must support the hardware version of the protected virtual machine template.