The replication feature enables incremental replication from a backup of a virtual machine (source VM) to a synced copy of the virtual machine (destination VM). The replication operation opens the destination VM and applies changes from the source VM backups since the last sync point.

You can replicate virtual machines to vCenter.

The feature can initiate replication automatically after backups or on a scheduled basis (for example, daily or once a week), without requiring any additional action from users. Using backup data for replications minimizes the impact on the production workload by avoiding the need to read the source VM again for replication. In addition, in cases where corruption on the source VM is replicated to the destination VM, users can still recover a point-in-time version of the source VM from older backups.

If no new backups have been run since the last replication, the scheduled replication does not run.

You can use a snapshot or a streaming backup as the source for replication operations:

  • Live Sync Direct is used for replication operations from IntelliSnap backups. Live Sync Direct mounts a snapshot from an IntelliSnap backup, then reads data from the mount directly to the destination VM. Using snapshots eliminates the need to create a backup copy for replication, provides faster replication, and minimizes the impact on the production environment.

    The snapshot can be a hardware snapshot from a storage array or a VM snapshot stored on the source VM.


    When you configure replication from VMware IntelliSnap backups, failback operations are only supported if the IntelliSnap configuration uses the Virtual Server Agent Snap engine. Failback operations are not supported if you use a hardware snapshot engine, regardless of whether the replication operation is performed from a snap copy or a backup copy.

  • Traditional Live Sync is used for replication operations from streaming backups or IntelliSnap backup copies.


  • For more information, see Performing Failover or Failback.

  • If you include VMware templates in a replication schedule, the templates are replicated to the destination site as virtual machines rather than as templates. As a workaround, you can perform a full VM restore from backup to restore the templates, instead of replicating templates.

Disaster Recovery

Replication can be used to create and maintain warm recovery sites for virtual machines running critical business applications. Replication offers the following benefits:

  • The impact on production servers is minimized because replication uses backup data to create replicated virtual machines; backup captures virtual machine data in a single pass, and replication runs on backup infrastructure.

  • Replication is hardware agnostic; there is no need to reproduce the original hardware environment at the recovery site.

  • The recovery time objective (RTO), the time interval between a service interruption and the restoration of services from the recovery site, is the time needed to power on the virtual machines at the recovery site. Automated validation and the ability to specify new network connections at the recovery site ensure that startup time is minimized.

  • The recovery point objective (RPO), the acceptable time interval within which virtual machine data must be recoverable, is determined by the frequency of backups.

  • Backup data can be copied to a remote location where replication operations are performed; deduplication and compression reduce the amount of data that needs to be transferred over the wide area network (WAN).

For more information, see the white paper Using Replication to Support Disaster Recovery.