You can move virtual machines from one compute resource or storage location to another by using cold or hot migration. For example, with vSphere vMotion you can move powered on virtual machines away from a host to perform maintenance, to balance loads, to collocate virtual machines that communicate with each other, to move virtual machines apart to minimize fault domain, to migrate to new server hardware, and so on.
Moving a virtual machine from one inventory folder to another folder or resource pool in the same data center is not a form of migration. Unlike migration, cloning a virtual machine or copying its virtual disks and configuration file in the same vCenter Server system are procedures that create a new virtual machine. Cloning and copying a virtual machine in the same vCenter Server system are also not forms of migration.
By using migration, you can change the compute resource that the virtual machine runs on. For example, you can move a virtual machine from one host to another host or cluster.
To migrate virtual machines with disks larger than 2 TB, the source and destination ESXi hosts must be version 6.0 and later.
- Cold Migration
- Moving a powered off or suspended virtual machine to a new host. Optionally, you can relocate configuration and disk files for powered off or suspended virtual machines to new storage locations. You can also use cold migration to move virtual machines from one virtual switch to another, and from one data center to another. You can perform cold migration manually or you can schedule a task.
- Hot Migration
- Moving a powered on virtual machine to a new host. Optionally, you can also move the virtual machine disks or folder to a different datastore. Hot migration is also called live migration or vSphere vMotion. With vSphere vMotion, you migrate the virtual machine without any interruption in its availability.
Depending on the virtual machine resource type, you can perform three types of migration.
- Change compute resource only
- Moving a virtual machine, but not its storage, to another compute resource, such as a host, cluster, resource pool, or vApp. You can move the virtual machine to another compute resource by using cold or hot migration. If you change the compute resource of a powered on virtual machine, you use vSphere vMotion.
- Change storage only
- Moving a virtual machine and its storage, including virtual disks, configuration files, or a combination of these, to a new datastore on the same host. You can change the datastore of a virtual machine by using cold or hot migration. If you move a powered on virtual machine and its storage to a new datastore, you use Storage vMotion.
- Change both compute resource and storage
- Moving a virtual machine to another host and at the same time moving its disk or virtual machine folder to another datastore. You can change the host and datastore simultaneously by using cold or hot migration.
In vSphere 6.0 and later, you can move virtual machines between vSphere sites by using migration between the following types of objects.
- Migrate to another virtual switch
- Moving the network of a virtual machine to a virtual switch of a different type. You can migrate virtual machines without reconfiguring the physical and virtual network. By using cold or hot migration, you can move the virtual machine from a standard to a standard or distributed switch, and from a distributed switch to another distributed switch. When you move a virtual machine network between distributed switches, the network configuration and policies that are associated with the network adapters of the virtual machine are transferred to the target switch.
- Migrate to another data center
- Moving a virtual machine to a different data center. You can change the data center of a virtual machine by using cold or hot migration. For networking in the target data center, you can select a dedicated port group on a distributed switch.
- Migrate to another vCenter Server system
Moving a virtual machine to a different vCenter Server instance.
You can move a virtual machine to a vCenter Server instance that is connected to the source vCenter Server instance through vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode.
You can also move virtual machines between vCenter Server instances that are located across a long distance from each other.
Starting with vSphere 7.0 Update 1c, you can migrate workloads across vCenter Server systems by using Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion. You can initiate migration of workloads both from on-premise environments and from cloud environments. Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion does not depend on vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode or Hybrid Linked Mode and you can migrate virtual machines across vCenter Server systems in different vCenter Single Sign-On domains.
Starting with vSphere 7.0 Update 3, you can use the Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion feature to clone virtual machines across vCenter Server systems.
For information about the requirements about vMotion across vCenter Server instances, see Requirements for vMotion Between vCenter Server Instances.