When a management network failure occurs for a vSphere HA cluster, a subset of the cluster's hosts might be unable to communicate over the management network with the other hosts. Multiple partitions can occur in a cluster.

A partitioned cluster leads to degraded virtual machine protection and cluster management functionality. Correct the partitioned cluster as soon as possible.

Virtual machine protection. vCenter Server allows a virtual machine to be powered on, but it can be protected only if it is running in the same partition as the master host that is responsible for it. The master host must be communicating with vCenter Server. A master host is responsible for a virtual machine if it has exclusively locked a system-defined file on the datastore that contains the virtual machine's configuration file.

Cluster management. vCenter Server can communicate with only some of the hosts in the cluster, and it can connect to only one master host. As a result, changes in configuration that affect vSphere HA might not take effect until after the partition is resolved. This failure could result in one of the partitions operating under the old configuration, while another uses the new settings.

If a vSphere HA cluster contains pre-ESXi 5.0 hosts and a partition occurs, vSphere HA might incorrectly power on a virtual machine that was powered off by the user or it might fail to restart a virtual machine that failed.