How to Migrate VM From One to Another vCenter Server Instance

You can migrate virtual machines cross vCenter Server instances in different vCenter Single Sign-On domains with Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion.


By Crystal / Updated on February 2, 2023

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VMware VM migration cross vCenter Server

VMware vCenter Server is advanced server management software that provides a centralized platform for controlling your VMware vSphere environments, allowing you to automate and deliver a virtual infrastructure across the hybrid cloud. For large-scale virtual environment of enterprise, it even requires multiple vCenter Servers to work simultaneously.

In this context, there are also users who want to migrate virtual machines between vCenter Server instances to help achieve certain virtual machine provisioning cases:

  • Balance workloads between clusters and vCenter Server instances.
  • Flexibly scale up or down capacity between resources in different vCenter Server instances.
  • Move virtual machines between environments with different purposes.
  • Move virtual machines to meet different SLAs (Service Level Agreements). 

Luckily, vSphere 6.0 or later versions allows you to migrate VM to another vCenter. Keep reading to learn the steps.

VMware vCenter Server

Requirements for VMware VM migration to another vCenter

In VMware, there are certain requirements to migrate VM to another vCenter:

  • The source and target vCenter Server instances and ESXi hosts must be running version 6.0 or later.
  • The source vCenter and target vCenter should be on the same version.
  • An Enterprise Plus license is required for cross-vCenter Server and long distance vMotion functionality.
  • When using the vSphere Web Client, both vCenter Server instances must be in Enhanced Linked Mode and must be in the same vCenter single sign-on (SSO) domain so that the source vCenter Server can authenticate to the target vCenter Server.
  • When using GUI (webclient), ELM (same SSO domain) is required; when using sdk/api/PowerCLI, it is not.
  • Both vCenter Server instances must be synced with each other for proper vCenter SSO token authentication.
  • For migrating compute resources only, both vCenter Server instances must be connected to shared VM storage.
  • When using vSphere APIs/SDK, two vCenter Server instances may exist in different vSphere Single Sign-On domains. Additional parameters are required when performing non-federated cross-vCenter Server vMotion. Starting with PowerCLI 6.5, the Move-VM cmdlet supports both federated and non-federated cross-vCenter Server vMotion.

👉Tips: For vSphere 7.0 U1c and later versions, you can use The Advanced Cross vCenter Server vMotion (XVM) capability The Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion feature in vSphere 7.0 U1c is only supported between vSphere (vCenter and ESXi) instances 6.5 or greater, and it is not supported with any builds of vSphere 6.0, for more information, see Import or Clone a Virtual Machine with Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion

Example 1. Migrate VM to another vCenter with vSphere vMotion

You can move VM to another vCenter with xvMotion (cross vCenter vMotion) if the above requirements are met. Try the following steps.

How to copy vm from one vCenter to another with xvMotion:

1. Log in to the vSphere client, right-click the VM you want to move, and then click Migrate.

migrate vm

2. If the VM's datastore is available on both ends, you can move only the VM's compute by selecting the first option. Otherwise, check Change both compute resources and storage. It will be the most common choice, as sharing datastores across vCenter servers is not a best practice.

change both compute resources and storage

3. Expand the topology of the target vCenter server and select the resource you want to migrate it to.

4. Then select the target storage for the VM migration, followed by the destination virtual machine folder.

select storage for vm migration

5. The next step is to select the destination network, where you will get a warning that this network may not be the same network on the source and destination due to operation across datacenters. So make sure you remember to change the VLAN after the migration is complete.

select network

6. Then you will come to the summary pane and you can press Finish to start the migration. When the task status reads "Completed", you have successfully copied the virtual machine to another vCenter.

Example 2. Migrate VM with Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion

You can use Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion in vSphere Client to copy VM from one vCenter to another without the specific requirement for link mode. But before start, you should verify that the target vCenter Server instances are version 6.5 or later, and the source vCenter Server instance is version 7.0 Update 1c or later.

Steps to move VM from one vCenter to another with Advanced xvMotion:

1. Open vSphere Client, access to Home >> Hosts and Clusters.

2. Select the host or cluster that contains the virtual machines you want to migrate.

3. Right-click the virtual machine and select Migrate.

4. Select the migration type as Cross vCenter Server export. Then click Next.

Cross vCenter Server export

5. Select the target vCenter Server instance to which you want to export or clone virtual machines. You can select a Saved vCenter Servers or New vCenter Server.

select target vCenter Server instance

Tips: The connection to a saved vCenter Server instances is valid only for the current user session. You must enter the credentials of the source vCenter Server instances for each login session.

6. If a Security Alert dialog box appears, click Yes.

7. Click Next.

8. Select the destination compute resource for this virtual machine migration and click Next.

Possible targets include hosts and DRS clusters with any level of automation. If DRS is not enabled for a cluster, select a specific host in the cluster rather than selecting the cluster.

9. If a compatibility problem appears in the Compatibility pane, fix the problem or select another host or cluster for the migration.

10. Select the destination storage for the virtual machine migration.

  • Select the storage type for the virtual machine configuration files and all the hard disks.

Tips: You can select the type of storage only if PMem or Hybrid storage types are available in the data center.

  • Select the virtual disk format, VM storage policy, datastore location for the virtual machine files.

select the destination storage

11. Select the destination folder for the virtual machines and click Next.

12. Choose the destination networks for the virtual machine migration.

select destination networks

13. On the Ready to complete page, review the details and click Finish.

review information of VM migration

14. Right-click the host or cluster to which you want to import virtual machines. Then select Import VMs. You can follow the Import VMs wizard to migrate VM from one vCenter to another.

import VMs

Virtual machines are being migrated across vCenter Server. You are able to move virtual machines between vCenter Servers that are in different single sign-on or SSO domains.

Before VM migration across vCenter Servers, you should back up VMware ESXi which allows fast and secure recovery especially for enterprise. The backup process is easier and faster than setting up a new computer if you lose your data in the process of VM migration.

Batch backup your VMs on vCenter Server with an efficient software

If you only own 1 or 2 devices, you can clone virtual machines, copy virtual machine disk files and export VM as OVF template to complete ESXi backup. However, for long-term data protection, it is better to use a professional virtual machine to create standalone and automated backups. Here, I will try a professional and VMware backup tool – AOMEI Cyber Backup to perform automated backups for multiple virtual machines, and choose to send email notifications if there's an error. It supports various versions including ESXi 6.0-7.0, and it offers automated backup task and instant disaster recovery. You are able to backup your multiple virtual machines with its flexible strategies.

With AOMEI Cyber Backup, you can enjoy these features easily.

Secure VM Backup: schedule VMware or Hyper-V virtual machine backups and perform hot backup to protect crucial data continuously without human errors.
Support Free ESXi: AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Flexible vSphere Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.
Instant Disaster Recovery: instantly restore the whole virtual machine to the previous state from any selected history version.
Email Notification: send email notification when the task is completed or abnormal.
Role-Assignment: allow one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privilege, effectively reduce administration cost and manual errors.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup 30-day free trial:

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

If you want to protect the security of your virtual machines comprehensively, please refer to the following steps.

1. Add devices: download AOMEI Cyber Backup and click Source Device >> VMware >> + Add VMware Device to Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click > Bind Device.

Bind device

2. Create backup task: click Backup Task >> Create New Task.

★ Enter task name and batch select large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server for centralized backup.

★ Schedule: schedule backup as full / incremental / differential backup and specify time to run the backup.

schedule VM backup

★ After configuring the backup task, review the information and click Start Backup.

3. Restore: click “…”>> Restore to select restoration content and destination.

restore VM

You can choose to Restore to original location. It allows you to recover entire VM easily and quickly. It saves time to recreate or configure ESXi virtual machines.

Or you can also restore to new location to create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saving the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

restore VM


In VMware, migrating VM to another vCenter helps to move workloads from a vCenter Server instance to another. As we know, Cross vCenter vMotion and Advanced Cross vCenter vMotion are two available ways in different version of vSphere to help you copy VM from one vCenter to another, you can pick as you need.

Meanwhile, for important instance, you can backup vCenter to achieve competitive protection.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.