Set up disaster recovery to Azure for on-premises VMware VMs

Azure Site Recovery contributes to your business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy by keeping your business apps up and running during planned and unplanned outages. Site Recovery manages and orchestrates disaster recovery of on-premises machines and Azure virtual machines (VMs), including replication, failover, and recovery.

In this tutorial, we show you how to set up and enable replication of a VMware VM to Azure, using Azure Site Recovery. Tutorials are designed to show you how to deploy Site Recovery with basic settings. They use the simplest path, and don't show all options. In this tutorial, you learn how to:

  • Enter the replication source and target.
  • Set up the source replication environment, including on-premises Azure Site Recovery components, and the target replication environment.
  • Create a replication policy.
  • Enable replication for a VM.

Before you start

Before you start, it's helpful to:

Select a protection goal

  1. In Recovery Services vaults, select the vault name. We're using ContosoVMVault for this scenario.
  2. In Getting Started, select Site Recovery. Then select Prepare Infrastructure.
  3. In Protection goal > Where are your machines located, select On-premises.
  4. In Where do you want to replicate your machines, select To Azure.
  5. In Are your machines virtualized, select Yes, with VMware vSphere Hypervisor. Then select OK.

Plan your deployment

In this tutorial we're showing you how to replicate a single VM, and in Deployment Planning, we'll select Yes, I have done it. If you're deploying multiple VMs we recommend that you don't skip this step. We provide the Deployment Planner Tool to help you. Learn more about this tool.

Set up the source environment

As a first deployment step, you set up your source environment. You need a single, highly available, on-premises machine to host on-premises Site Recovery components. Components include the configuration server, process server, and master target server:

  • The configuration server coordinates communications between on-premises and Azure and manages data replication.
  • The process server acts as a replication gateway. It receives replication data; optimizes it with caching, compression, and encryption; and sends it to Azure storage. The process server also installs Mobility Service on VMs you want to replicate and performs automatic discovery of on-premises VMware VMs.
  • The master target server handles replication data during failback from Azure.

To set up the configuration server as a highly available VMware VM, download a prepared Open Virtualization Application (OVA) template and import the template into VMware to create the VM. After you set up the configuration server, register it in the vault. After registration, Site Recovery discovers on-premises VMware VMs.


This tutorial uses an OVA template to create the configuration server VMware VM. If you're unable to do this, you can set up the configuration server manually.


In this tutorial, Site Recovery downloads and installs MySQL to the configuration server. If you don't want Site Recovery to do this, you can set it up manually. Learn more.

Download the VM template

  1. In the vault, go to Prepare Infrastructure > Source.
  2. In Prepare source, select +Configuration server.
  3. In Add Server, check that Configuration server for VMware appears in Server type.
  4. Download the OVF template for the configuration server.


    You can download the latest version of the configuration server template directly from the Microsoft Download Center.


The licence provided with OVF template is an evaluation licence valid for 180 days. Customer needs to activate the windows with a procured licence.

Import the template in VMware

  1. Sign in to the VMware vCenter server or vSphere ESXi host with the VMWare vSphere Client.
  2. On the File menu, select Deploy OVF Template to start the Deploy OVF Template Wizard.

    OVF template

  3. On Select source, enter the location of the downloaded OVF.

  4. On Review details, select Next.
  5. On Select name and folder and Select configuration, accept the default settings.
  6. On Select storage, for best performance select Thick Provision Eager Zeroed in Select virtual disk format.
  7. On the rest of the wizard pages, accept the default settings.
  8. On Ready to complete, to set up the VM with the default settings, select Power on after deployment > Finish.


    If you want to add an additional NIC, clear Power on after deployment > Finish. By default, the template contains a single NIC. You can add additional NICs after deployment.

Add an additional adapter

To add an additional NIC to the configuration server, add it before you register the server in the vault. Adding additional adapters isn't supported after registration.

  1. In the vSphere Client inventory, right-click the VM and select Edit Settings.
  2. In Hardware, select Add > Ethernet Adapter. Then select Next.
  3. Select an adapter type and a network.
  4. To connect the virtual NIC when the VM is turned on, select Connect at power on. Select Next > Finish. Then select OK.

Register the configuration server

  1. From the VMWare vSphere Client console, turn on the VM.
  2. The VM boots up into a Windows Server 2016 installation experience. Accept the license agreement, and enter an administrator password.
  3. After the installation finishes, sign in to the VM as the administrator.
  4. The first time you sign in, the Azure Site Recovery Configuration Tool starts within a few seconds.
  5. Enter a name that's used to register the configuration server with Site Recovery. Then select Next.
  6. The tool checks that the VM can connect to Azure. After the connection is established, select Sign in to sign in to your Azure subscription. The credentials must have access to the vault in which you want to register the configuration server.
  7. The tool performs some configuration tasks and then reboots.
  8. Sign in to the machine again. In a few seconds, the Configuration Server Management Wizard starts automatically.

Configure settings and add the VMware server

  1. In the configuration server management wizard, select Setup connectivity, and then select the NIC that the process server uses to receive replication traffic from VMs. Then select Save. You can't change this setting after it's configured.
  2. In Select Recovery Services vault, select your Azure subscription and the relevant resource group and vault.
  3. In Install third-party software, accept the license agreement. Select Download and Install to install MySQL Server. If you placed MySQL in the path, this step is skipped.
  4. Select Install VMware PowerCLI. Make sure all browser windows are closed before you do this. Then select Continue.
  5. In Validate appliance configuration, prerequisites are verified before you continue.
  6. In Configure vCenter Server/vSphere ESXi server, enter the FQDN or IP address of the vCenter server, or vSphere host, where the VMs you want to replicate are located. Enter the port on which the server is listening. Enter a friendly name to be used for the VMware server in the vault.
  7. Enter user credentials to be used by the configuration server to connect to the VMware server. Ensure that the user name and password are correct and is a part of the Administrators group of the virtual machine to be protected. Site Recovery uses these credentials to automatically discover VMware VMs that are available for replication. Select Add, and then select Continue.
  8. In Configure virtual machine credentials, enter the user name and password that will be used to automatically install Mobility Service on VMs when replication is enabled.
    • For Windows machines, the account needs local administrator privileges on the machines you want to replicate.
    • For Linux, provide details for the root account.
  9. Select Finalize configuration to complete registration.
  10. After registration finishes, in the Azure portal, verify that the configuration server and VMware server are listed on the Source page in the vault. Then select OK to configure target settings.

Site Recovery connects to VMware servers by using the specified settings and discovers VMs.


It can take 15 minutes or more for the account name to appear in the portal. To update immediately, select Configuration Servers > server name > Refresh Server.

Set up the target environment

Select and verify target resources.

  1. Select Prepare infrastructure > Target. Select the Azure subscription you want to use. We're using a Resource Manager model.
  2. Site Recovery checks that you have one or more compatible Azure storage accounts and networks. You should have these when you set up the Azure components in the first tutorial in this tutorial series.

    Target tab

Create a replication policy

  1. Open the Azure portal, and select All resources.
  2. Select the Recovery Services vault (ContosoVMVault in this tutorial).
  3. To create a replication policy, select Site Recovery infrastructure > Replication Policies > +Replication Policy.
  4. In Create replication policy, enter the policy name. We're using VMwareRepPolicy.
  5. In RPO threshold, use the default of 60 minutes. This value defines how often recovery points are created. An alert is generated if continuous replication exceeds this limit.
  6. In Recovery point retention, specify how longer each recovery point is retained. For this tutorial we're using 72 hours. Replicated VMs can be recovered to any point in a retention window.
  7. In App-consistent snapshot frequency, specify how often app-consistent snapshots are created. We're using the default of 60 minutes. Select OK to create the policy.

    Create replication policy

  • The policy is automatically associated with the configuration server.
  • A matching policy is automatically created for failback by default. For example, if the replication policy is rep-policy, then the failback policy is rep-policy-failback. This policy isn't used until you initiate a failback from Azure.

Enable replication

Enable replication can be performed as follows:

  1. Select Replicate application > Source.
  2. In Source, select On-premises, and select the configuration server in Source location.
  3. In Machine type, select Virtual Machines.
  4. In vCenter/vSphere Hypervisor, select the vSphere host, or vCenter server that manages the host.
  5. Select the process server (installed by default on the configuration server VM). Then select OK.
  6. In Target, select the subscription and the resource group in which you want to create the failed-over VMs. We're using the Resource Manager deployment model.
  7. Select the Azure storage account you want to use to replicate data, and the Azure network and subnet to which Azure VMs connect when they're created after failover.
  8. Select Configure now for selected machines to apply the network setting to all VMs on which you enable replication. Select Configure later to select the Azure network per machine.
  9. In Virtual Machines > Select virtual machines, select each machine you want to replicate. You can only select machines for which replication can be enabled. Then select OK. If you are not able to view/select any particular virtual machine, click here to resolve the issue.
  10. In Properties > Configure properties, select the account to be used by the process server to automatically install Mobility Service on the machine.
  11. In Replication settings > Configure replication settings, verify that the correct replication policy is selected.
  12. Select Enable Replication. Site Recovery installs the Mobility Service when replication is enabled for a VM.
  13. You can track progress of the Enable Protection job in Settings > Jobs > Site Recovery Jobs. After the Finalize Protection job runs, the machine is ready for failover.
  14. It can take 15 minutes or longer for changes to take effect and appear in the portal.
  15. To monitor VMs you add, check the last discovered time for VMs in Configuration Servers > Last Contact At. To add VMs without waiting for the scheduled discovery, highlight the configuration server (don't select it) and select Refresh.

Next steps