How to Configure DRS in VMware: A Comprehensive Guide to Optimizing Workload Distribution

Learn how to effectively configure and manage Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) in VMware for efficient workload distribution and performance optimization in virtualized environments.


By Zelia / Updated on January 11, 2024

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Understanding DRS Clusters

A DRS cluster consists of multiple ESXi hosts grouped together to form a logical unit. The primary purpose of a DRS cluster is load balancing, which involves distributing VMs across hosts based on resource usage, ensuring no single host is overwhelmed while others remain underutilized. This balancing act allows for efficient resource allocation and prevents performance bottlenecks.


Configuring DRS in VMware

Step 1: Creating a DRS Cluster

To configure DRS, start by creating a DRS cluster within your vSphere environment. This can be done through the vSphere Web Client or vSphere Client. Navigate to the "Hosts and Clusters" view, right-click on the data center or cluster, and select "New Cluster." Follow the prompts to specify the cluster name, select the desired hosts, and complete the cluster creation process.

Step 2: Configuring DRS Automation Level

Once the DRS cluster is created, you can configure the automation level for workload distribution. There are five automation levels to choose from:

  • Fully Automated: DRS makes all migration recommendations and performs them automatically.
  • Partially Automated: DRS makes migration recommendations, but manual approval is required for execution.
  • Manual: DRS provides recommendations, but all migrations must be performed manually.
  • Disabled: DRS does not make any recommendations or perform migrations.
  • Predictive DRS: Utilizes vRealize Operations Manager to proactively balance workloads based on predicted demand.

Select the appropriate automation level that aligns with your workload requirements and operational preferences.

Step 3: Adjusting DRS Migration Thresholds

Migration thresholds determine the sensitivity of DRS in triggering workload migrations. You can adjust the thresholds based on your desired level of workload balancing. There are three migration threshold settings:

  • Conservative: Fewer migrations are triggered, prioritizing stability over load balancing.
  • Moderate: A balance between stability and load balancing.
  • Aggressive: More migrations are triggered, prioritizing load balancing over stability.

Evaluate your workload patterns and select the migration threshold that best suits your environment's needs.

Step 4: Enabling DRS Affinity Rules

DRS affinity rules help control the placement of VMs within the DRS cluster. Affinity rules can be used to enforce VM-to-VM or VM-to-host relationships. For example, you can create an affinity rule to keep two VMs together on the same host or separate them onto different hosts. By defining these rules, you can ensure that certain VMs are always placed together or apart, based on your requirements.

Step 5: Monitoring and Managing DRS

After configuring DRS, it is important to regularly monitor and manage its performance. Keep an eye on the DRS cluster's CPU and memory utilization, as wellas the distribution of VMs across hosts. Use vSphere's DRS-related monitoring tools and performance charts to gain insights into resource usage and make necessary adjustments. Regularly review and fine-tune DRS settings based on workload changes and performance observations.

Best Practices for DRS Configuration

To optimize DRS configuration, consider the following best practices:

  • Start with the "Partially Automated" automation level and observe the recommendations before enabling full automation.
  • Gradually adjust migration thresholds based on workload characteristics and performance requirements.
  • Use affinity rules judiciously to maintain compliance, application dependencies, or licensing requirements.
  • Regularly review and reassess DRS configuration based on changing workload patterns and business needs.

Troubleshooting DRS Issues

While DRS is designed to enhance workload distribution, issues may arise. Here are a few common challenges and troubleshooting tips:

  • Inadequate resources: Ensure that hosts in the cluster have sufficient CPU, memory, and storage capacity to accommodate VMs.
  • Network connectivity: Verify that all hosts have proper network connectivity and can communicate with each other.
  • Misconfiguration: Double-check DRS cluster settings, automation levels, migration thresholds, and affinity rules for any misconfigurations.
  • Performance bottlenecks: Analyze performance metrics, such as CPU and memory usage, to identify any potential bottlenecks and take corrective actions.

Seamless VMware VMs Backup – AOMEI Cyber Backup

Backing up virtual machines (VMs) is crucial for data protection and disaster recovery in VMware environments. AOMEI Cyber Backup is a powerful and user-friendly software that offers seamless backup and restore capabilities for VMware VMs. In this article, we will guide you through the specific steps to back up and restore your VMware VMs using AOMEI Cyber Backup.

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Step 1: Installing AOMEI Cyber Backup

1. Download and install AOMEI Cyber Backup from the official website.

2. Launch the software and navigate to the "Backup" tab.

Step 2: Creating a VMware VM Backup

1. Click on the "System Backup" option under the "Backup" tab.

2. In the source section, select the VMware VMs you want to back up.

3. Choose a destination path to save the backup image file.

4. Set a backup schedule according to your preferences (optional).

5. Configure other backup settings like compression, encryption, and splitting (optional).

6. Click "Start Backup" to initiate the backup process.

Step 3: Restoring VMware VMs

1. Navigate to the "Restore" tab in AOMEI Cyber Backup.

2. Choose the backup image file of the VMware VMs you want to restore.

3. Select the destination location where you want to restore the VMs.

4. Specify the restore options such as overwrite or create new VMs.

5. Review the restore settings and click "Start Restore" to begin the restoration process.


Configuring DRS in VMware is a critical step towards optimizing workload distribution and resource utilization in virtualized environments. By creating DRS clusters, adjusting automation levels and migration thresholds, enabling affinity rules, and monitoring performance, you can ensure an efficient and balanced VMware infrastructure. Regularly reviewing and fine-tuning DRS settings, along with troubleshooting any issues, will help maintain optimal performance and availability. With proper DRS configuration, you can make the most of your VMware environment and achieve enhanced performance and resource efficiency.

Zelia · Editor
Zelia is an editor from AOMEI Technology.She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. Writing is one of her hobbies and she wants her articles to be seen by more people. In her spare time, she likes to draw and listen to music, and it is a pleasure for her to focus on her own world.