Hosts that are added to a DRS cluster must meet certain requirements to use cluster features successfully.

Ensure that the managed hosts use shared storage. Shared storage is typically on a SAN, but can also be implemented using NAS shared storage.

See the iSCSI SAN Configuration Guide and the Fibre Channel SAN Configuration Guide for more information about SAN and the ESX Configuration Guide or ESXi Configuration Guide for information about other shared storage.

Configure all managed hosts to use shared VMFS volumes.

Place the disks of all virtual machines on VMFS volumes that are accessible by source and destination hosts.

Set access mode for the shared VMFS to public.

Ensure the VMFS volume is sufficiently large to store all virtual disks for your virtual machines.

Ensure all VMFS volumes on source and destination hosts use volume names, and all virtual machines use those volume names for specifying the virtual disks.


Virtual machine swap files also need to be on a VMFS accessible to source and destination hosts (just like .vmdk virtual disk files). This requirement does not apply if all source and destination hosts are ESX Server 3.5 or higher and using host-local swap. In that case, vMotion with swap files on unshared storage is supported. Swap files are placed on a VMFS by default, but administrators might override the file location using advanced virtual machine configuration options.

To avoid limiting the capabilities of DRS, you should maximize the processor compatibility of source and destination hosts in the cluster.

vMotion transfers the running architectural state of a virtual machine between underlying ESX/ESXi hosts. vMotion compatibility means that the processors of the destination host must be able to resume execution using the equivalent instructions where the processors of the source host were suspended. Processor clock speeds and cache sizes might vary, but processors must come from the same vendor class (Intel versus AMD) and the same processor family to be compatible for migration with vMotion.

Processor families such as Xeon MP and Opteron are defined by the processor vendors. You can distinguish different processor versions within the same family by comparing the processors’ model, stepping level, and extended features.

Sometimes, processor vendors have introduced significant architectural changes within the same processor family (such as 64-bit extensions and SSE3). VMware identifies these exceptions if it cannot guarantee successful migration with vMotion.

vCenter Server provides features that help ensure that virtual machines migrated with vMotion meet processor compatibility requirements. These features include:

Enhanced vMotion Compatibility (EVC) – You can use EVC to help ensure vMotion compatibility for the hosts in a cluster. EVC ensures that all hosts in a cluster present the same CPU feature set to virtual machines, even if the actual CPUs on the hosts differ. This prevents migrations with vMotion from failing due to incompatible CPUs.

Configure EVC from the Cluster Settings dialog box. The hosts in a cluster must meet certain requirements for the cluster to use EVC. For information about EVC and EVC requirements, see the VMware vSphere Datacenter Administration Guide.

CPU compatibility masks – vCenter Server compares the CPU features available to a virtual machine with the CPU features of the destination host to determine whether to allow or disallow migrations with vMotion. By applying CPU compatibility masks to individual virtual machines, you can hide certain CPU features from the virtual machine and potentially prevent migrations with vMotion from failing due to incompatible CPUs.

To enable the use of DRS migration recommendations, the hosts in your cluster must be part of a vMotion network. If the hosts are not in the vMotion network, DRS can still make initial placement recommendations.

To be configured for vMotion, each host in the cluster must meet the following requirements:

The virtual machine configuration file for ESX/ESXi hosts must reside on a VMware Virtual Machine File System (VMFS).

vMotion does not support raw disks or migration of applications clustered using Microsoft Cluster Service (MSCS).

vMotion requires a private Gigabit Ethernet migration network between all of the vMotion enabled managed hosts. When vMotion is enabled on a managed host, configure a unique network identity object for the managed host and connect it to the private migration network.