VMware disaster recovery and VM hardware versions

Hi all,

I’m evaluating / testing different DR solutions for vSphere.

I have two vSphere clusters:

Primary – ESXi 6.7 (most likely going to 7.0 in the near future)

Secondary – ESXi 6.5 (old hardware, cannot go above 6.5)

So basically the idea was to re-purpose old hardware as a DR site. Now the first thing I noticed right out the gate was that there are VM’s with VM Hardware version 14 running on the primary 6.7 site, and ESXi 6.5 doesn’t support that version. Let’s assume that I cannot revert to older VM hardware version on VM’s running version 14.

So the questions are:

1. Is this a problem that cannot be overcome? There is absolutely no way to get VM hardware v.14 to run on ESXi 6.5, and I should just state that we need a modern DR site, either cloud or new hardware?

2. If 1. is true, is there a way to practically mass convert VM’s to previous VM hardware version?

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  1. Regarding #2, if you can convert a couple of your v14 machines to say, v13 and note the differences within the .vmx file then, I suppose you can create a script that shuts down a VM, backs up its .vmx, makes any changes necessary to revert and then restarts the VM.

    If the script tests that it’s working against a v14 machine it can skip processing any VM that isn’t.

    I think this is a wholly unsupported way to do things, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The supported way, I think, is using the VMware Converter to revert, one VM at a time.

  2. You can keep all the virtual machines the same hardware versions that will be supported on both primary and DR locations.

    Check the difference between virtual machines hardware versions here -[https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.7/com.vmware.vsphere.vm_admin.doc/GUID-789C3913-1053-4850-A0F0-E29C3D32B6DA.html](https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.7/com.vmware.vsphere.vm_admin.doc/GUID-789C3913-1053-4850-A0F0-E29C3D32B6DA.html)

    If you will need the features of 14-15 gen of the VMHL (such as MS VBS, NVDIMM, etc) you need to keep the same ESXi version on both DR and primary location.

    Another approach is to backup/copy VMDK files only and then manually restore the VMs by creating a new VM on the DR site with the required VM hardware level and just attach existing VMDK. You can either manually copy or use any free backup software that allows you to restore VMs files.

    If you are looking to automatic DR failover you will need to use specific replication software (such as Veeam, vSphere replica, Zerto, etc) that allows you to failover and failback, but in this case, the hosts must be the same VMware version.

    as u/jnew1213 already mentioned, you can either create a script that will shutdown the VM, unregister it from the vSphere, download the VMX file, parse it and change the hardware level, upload it back and register it back to the vSphere.

    or you can use VMware Converter Standalone to convert existing VM into a new one with lower hardware level (similar to just simply unregister VM, create a new one and attach existing VMDK files)

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