If you must take a host offline for maintenance, you can move the virtual machine to another host. Migration with vSphere vMotion allows virtual machine processes to continue working throughout a migration.

When you migrate a virtual machine with vSphere vMotion, the new host for the virtual machine must meet compatibility requirements so that the migration can proceed.

vMotion Migration Types

With vSphere vMotion, you can change the compute resource on which a virtual machine is running. You also can change both the compute resource and the storage of the virtual machine.

When you migrate virtual machines with vSphere vMotion and choose to change only the host, the entire state of the virtual machine is moved to the new host. The associated virtual disk remains in the same location on storage that must be shared between the two hosts.

When you choose to change both the host and the datastore, the virtual machine state is moved to a new host and the virtual disk is moved to another datastore. vSphere vMotion to another host and datastore is possible in vSphere environments without a shared storage.

After the virtual machine state is migrated to the alternate host, the virtual machine runs on the new host. Migrations with vSphere vMotion are transparent to the running virtual machine.

When you choose to change both the compute resource and the storage, you can use vSphere vMotion to migrate virtual machines across vCenter Server instances, data centers, and subnets.

Transferred State Information

The state information includes the current memory content and all the information that defines and identifies the virtual machine. The memory content includes transaction data and the bits of the operating system and applications that are in the memory. The defining and identification information stored in the state includes all the data that maps to the virtual machine hardware elements. This information includes BIOS, devices, CPU, MAC addresses for the Ethernet cards, chipset states, registers, and so forth.

Stages in vSphere vMotion

Migration with vSphere vMotion occurs in three stages:

  1. When you initiate a migration with vSphere vMotion, vCenter Server verifies that the existing virtual machine is in a stable state within its current host.
  2. The virtual machine state information (memory, registers, and network connections) is copied to the target host.
  3. The virtual machine resumes its activities on the new host.

If errors occur during migration, the virtual machine reverts to its original state and location.