vSphere HA provides high availability for virtual machines by pooling the virtual machines and the hosts they reside on into a cluster. Hosts in the cluster are monitored and in the event of a failure, the virtual machines on a failed host are restarted on alternate hosts.

When you create a vSphere HA cluster, a single host is automatically elected as the primary host. The primary host communicates with vCenter Server and monitors the state of all protected virtual machines and of the secondary hosts. Different types of host failures are possible, and the primary host must detect and appropriately deal with the failure. The primary host must distinguish between a failed host and one that is in a network partition or that has become network isolated. The primary host uses network and datastore heartbeating to determine the type of failure.