In a recent discussion I got a question about hypervisor replication options between different versions of VMware vSphere. For example, can you replicate a virtual machine from ESXi 5.5 to 6.5?
The first question to ask here is, why do you want to have different versions of vSphere running at your datacenters? The best practice of course would be to have identical version of vSphere! But, maybe there are valid reasons, so let’s take a look at the initial question: what are your options when you want to do hypervisor based replication between different VMware vSphere versions?
Two popular hypervisor based replication solutions currently available are VMware’s vSphere Replication and Zerto Virtual Replication. Let’s have a look at these solutions.
VMware vSphere Replication
With VMware vSphere Replication it’s possible to replicate VMs between different versions of ESXi, however the vCenter Server managing these ESXi hosts must be the same. Let’s have a look at the interoperability matrix matrix:
As you can see the vSphere Replication version is tight to the version of the vCenter Server. The major version of vCenter Server and vSphere Replication has to be identical at both sites.
Can I use vSphere Replication to replicate a VM between vCenters running different versions of vSphere Replication (eg. VR 5.5 to 6.0)? To replicate between vCenters, vSphere Replication requires the same major version (eg. 5.5.x > 5.5.x) of vCenter and vSphere Replication at both source and target. This is the only officially tested and supported configuration. Check the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix if you have any questions about matching vCenter and vSphere Replication versions (source).
However, the ESXi version can be different as you can see in the following table:
For example: vSphere Replication 6.5 does support ESXi hosts from version 5.5-6.5. So, with vSphere Replication the vCenter Server has to be identical at both sites, while the ESXi versions can be different as long as you take the interoperability matrix into account.
There are two interesting VMware communities posts that provide some additional information on this:
Zerto Virtual Replication
Zerto Virtual Repliation is a third party solution that provides multi hypervisor and multi cloud orchestration and replication options. Supported platforms are Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, AWS and Azure.
Zerto’s interoperability matrix provides details on supported versions for these different platforms.
As you see, Zerto is a bit more flexibele here. ZVR 5.0U1 supports vCenter Server 4.0U1-6.5.
Let’s have a look at the supported ESXi versions:
With version Zerto 5.0U1 all ESXi versions between 4.0u1 and 6.5 are supported. So, you can replicate between different versions of vCenter and ESXi as long as you take in account supported VM hardware levels. More information on this in this Zerto KB article. There’s also some additional infromation here.
I hope this was useful. Don’t forget to follow me on twitter for the latest updates.