Example Architectural Decision – Enhanced vMotion Compatiblity

Problem Statement

The virtual infrastructure is required to scale over time as demand for compute and/or availability increases.
When purchasing additional ESXi hosts over an expected ESXi host hardware life of >=3 year it is unlikely that the exact make/model of server or CPU type will be available. The solution needs to ensure full functionality across ESXi hosts (specifically vMotion) which may not be exactly the same hardware, although all processors will always be from the same vendor.

How can the vSphere cluster/s be configured for maximum flexibility without significant impact to Virtual machine performance?


1. All CPU types will be Intel or AMD but not a mix of the two
2. All CPUs will have a supported EVC mode


1. Ensure full functionality between ESXi hosts whos Intel CPUs may not match exactly
2. Prevent having to purchase large volumes of identical hardware at one time
3. Allow vSphere clusters to be expanded over time using similar, but not identical hardware although maintaining the same CPU make.

Architectural Decision

Enable EVC and maintain it at the maximum supported EVC level for all ESXi hosts in each vSphere cluster.


1. vMotion is a requirement for the cluster/s to ensure maximum flexibility
2. It is essential to avoid downtime where possible. EVC ensures VMs can be vMotion’d to newer hosts for the purpose of expanding a cluster, OR alternatively, to newer hardware so older hardware can be decommissioned without impact to the VM.
3. The EVC level for the cluster can be increased without downtime
4. Having EVC disabled would require virtual machines being migrated to new hardware have downtime where CPU types are not similar
5. If EVC was not enabled, newer hardware may be placed into a new (smaller) cluster/s and this would add an unnecessary HA overhead as well as reduce the efficiency of DRS


1. Where the EVC level for a cluster is increased, virtual machines will not leverage new CPU features unmasked by EVC until the next reboot
2. In the event new hardware is added to a cluster and the new hardware is compatible with a higher EVC mode, a virtual machine which has a workload which can benefit from CPU features masked by the existing EVC mode may not perform at the optimal level until older hardware is removed from the cluster and the EVC mode increased.


1. Leave EVC disabled and where CPU types are not compatible to vMotion, shutdown the guest OS for migrations.