During cluster or host remediation, you can preserve the state of the virtual machines in the host memory and restore them from memory after the remediation finishes. Suspending virtual machines to memory and using the Quick Boot functionality significantly reduces the time for upgrade, minimizes system boot time, and reduces the downtime of system and services.

During an upgrade operation with vSphere Lifecycle Manager, migrating virtual machines from the host that is under remediation to another host takes a considerable amount of time. After remediation, vSphere Lifecycle Manager migrates back the virtual machines to the upgraded host.

Starting with vSphere 7.0 Update 2, you can configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to suspend virtual machines to memory instead of migrating them, powering them off, or suspending them to disk.

Suspend Virtual Machines to Memory

Suspend to memory is an option that you can use only for clusters that you manage with vSphere Lifecycle Manager images. The functionality works together with the Quick Boot setting to optimize the remediation process and minimize virtual machine downtime.

You enable vSphere Lifecycle Manager to suspend virtual machines to memory when you configure the vSphere Lifecycle Manager host remediation settings. During remediation pre-check and remediation, vSphere Lifecycle Manager verifies that the suspend to memory option is indeed applicable to the host or cluster under remediation. If for some reason suspend to memory is inapplicable, vSphere Lifecycle Manager reports an error and prevents remediation from proceeding.

During a suspend to memory operation, virtual machines remain in a suspended state for some time. So, suspending virtual machines to memory might impact the workloads running on those virtual machines. The impact is similar to the impact that the suspend to disk operation might have on virtual machines and workloads.

Caution: As a best practice, always take snapshots of the virtual machines with critical workloads before you start remediation with the suspend to memory option enabled.
vSphere Lifecycle Manager might not suspend to memory all virtual machines on the host. Nevertheless, vSphere Lifecycle Manager is still able to proceed with the remediation of the host. Consider the following exceptions:
  • vSphere ESX Agent Manager (EAM) virtual machines

    vSphere Lifecycle Manager powers off the EAM virtual machines after all other virtual machines are suspended. Similarly, vSphere Lifecycle Manager powers on the EAM virtual machines before any other virtual machines are resumed from memory. None of the suspended virtual machines is resumed until the EAM virtual machines are powered on.

  • vSphere Cluster Services virtual machines

    vSphere Lifecycle Manager first migrates to another host the vSphere Cluster Services virtual machines, and then suspends to memory the rest of the virtual machines on the host.

Similarly, vSphere Lifecycle Manager does not suspend to memory the management virtual appliances for some VMware products and solutions. However, if a virtual machine for any of the following products or solutions runs on a host, the suspend to memory precheck fails and vSphere Lifecycle Manager does not proceed with the remediation of the respective host:
  • vCenter Server
  • vSAN witness virtual machine
  • vSphere with Tanzu
  • NSX-T Data Center
  • VMware HCX
  • vSphere Replication
  • Site Recovery Manager
  • VMware vRealize products
Note: Third-party virtual machines do get suspended during remediation, if the Suspend to memory option is enabled.

Quick Boot

Quick Boot is a setting that you can use with clusters that you manage with vSphere Lifecycle Manager images and vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines. Using Quick Boot optimizes the host patching and upgrade operations. Quick Boot lets vSphere Lifecycle Manager reduce the remediation time for hosts that undergo patch and upgrade operations. Patch and upgrade operations do not affect the hardware of a host. If the Quick Boot feature is enabled, vSphere Lifecycle Manager skips the hardware reboot (the BIOS or UEFI firmware reboot). As a result, the time an ESXi host spends in maintenance mode is reduced and the risk of failures during remediation is minimized.

To configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to suspend virtual machines to the host memory, you must enable Quick Boot. However, you can enable Quick Boot even if you decide not to use the Suspend to memory option.

Quick Boot is supported on a limited set of hardware platforms and drivers. Quick Boot is not supported on ESXi hosts that use TPM or passthrough devices. For more information about a host's compatibility with the Quick Boot setting, see the following KB article: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/52477.

Requirements for Using Suspend to Memory

Several factors might hinder the applicability of the suspended to memory option. Suspend to memory works under the following conditions:
  • The host supports the suspend to memory functionality.
  • Quick Boot is enabled for the cluster and the host under remediation supports Quick Boot.
  • The remediation does not involve firmware upgrade.
  • The host and the virtual machines meet certain requirements.
    Host Requirements Virtual Machine Requirements
    • The host has enough free memory.
    • The host has sufficient free low memory.
    • The host has enough free memory per NUMA node to start after a reboot.
    • The host has enough reservation available
    • The host does not use swapped or compressed pages of virtual machines.
    • The virtual machines do not have any passthrough devices.
    • The virtual machines do not have latency sensitivity set to high.
    • The virtual machines are not fault tolerant.
    • The virtual machines are not encrypted.
    • The virtual machines do not use persistent memory.
    • The virtual machines do not have virtual SGX or SEV devices.
    • The virtual machines do not have the suspend feature disabled.
    • The virtual machines are not frozen source virtual machines during an Instant Clone operation.

Suspend to Memory and vSphere High Availability (HA)

When you configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to suspend virtual machines to memory during remediation, vSphere HA provides protection for the suspended virtual machines in cases of failure at the virtual machine or host level. By modifying the vSphere HA advanced options, you can set a timeout value for suspended to memory virtual machines. If a suspended to memory virtual machine is not responsive for the specified time, vSphere HA powers on the virtual machine on the original host or on another host.
  • If you disable or reconfigure vSphere HA for the cluster during remediation, vSphere HA can no longer protect the suspended virtual machines. Before you change the vSphere HA configuration, make sure that no hosts in the cluster are in maintenance mode and the suspended virtual machines are powered on.
  • If you modify the das.failoverDelayForSuspendToMemoryVmsSecs advanced option for vSphere HA after you configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to use the suspend to memory option, the newly specified timeout value might not apply to the virtual machines. If you need to modify the default value of the das.failoverDelayForSuspendToMemoryVmsSecs option, ensure that you modify it before you start remediation to ensure that the new value is in effect.
  • If the suspend to memory operation fails, vSphere HA determines the most appropriate failover host after the specified timeout value expires. The failover host might be the original host or another one.
  • You must synchronize the server time for all ESXi hosts in the cluster. If the hosts are not synchronized, vSphere HA might not respect the specified timeout period and initiate failover earlier or later.

For more information about using and configuring vSphere HA, see the vSphere Availability documentation.