Oct 152020
VMware vCLS VM in VM List

Did a new VM appear on your VMware vSphere cluster called “vCLS”? Maybe multiple appeared named “vCLS (1)”, “vCLS (2)”, “vCLS (3)” appeared.

VMware vCLS VM in vSphere Cluster Objects
VMware vCLS VM in vSphere Cluster Objects

This could be frightening but fear not, this is part of VMware vSphere 7.0 Update 1.

What is the vCLS VM?

The vCLS virtural machine is essentially an “appliance” or “service” VM that allows a vSphere cluster to remain functioning in the event that the vCenter Server becomes unavailable. It will maintain the health and services of that cluster.

Where did the vCLS VM come from?

The vCLS VM will appear after upgrading to vSphere 7.0 Update 1. I’m assuming it was deployed during the upgrade process.

It does not appear in the standard Cluster, Hosts, and VMs view, but does appear when looking at the vSphere objects VM lists, Storage VM lists, etc…

Is it normal to have more than one vCLS VM?

The vCLS VMs are created when hosts are added to a vSphere Cluster. Up to 3 vCLS VMs are required to run in each vSphere Cluster.

The vCLS VMs will also appear on clusters which contain only one or two hosts. These configurations will result in either 1 or 2 vCLS VMs named “vCLS (1)” and “vCLS (2)”.

A note on licensing in regards to the vCLS VM

For VMware environments that use VM based licensing like vSphere for ROBO (Remote Office Branch Office), vCLS VMs are shown in the licensing interface as counting towards licensed VMs. Please Note that these VMs do not official count towards your purchased licenses as these are VMware System VMs. Please read VMware KB 80472 for more information on this.

More Information on vCLS VMs

For more information and technical specifics, you can visit the link below:


Hope this posts helps, and puts some minds at ease. Your VMware environment has NOT been compromised.

  16 Responses to “What is the vCLS Virtual Machine on VMware”

  1. I have a homelab 3 host vsphere cluster and it created 3 vCLS vms. I also have DRS enabled.

    My question / concern is that it eventually migrates all the vCLS vms to 1 host. None of the hosts are really loaded either.

  2. Hi Derek,

    There should be a vCLS instance for every host in the cluster. They should not migrate as they are specifically placed on each host, and all management tasks should be automated.

    The only time you’d need to do anything is if you were shutting down the host, in which cause you’d shut down the VM before issuing a shutdown on the host.

    I’m not sure what you meant with the comment regarding hosts being loaded. If you can expand on that I’ll do my best to comment.


  3. Hello, I have a 2 host cluster, however, 3 vCLS instances are deployed. 2 agents on one host and one agent on the second. It is a brand new deployment. Is this normal? Thank you.

  4. My vCLS VM’s all migrated to a single host as well. I have 3 hosts.

  5. Do you recommend I move all my vCLS vms to it own datastore?



  6. Hi Ben,

    I don’t believe that’s required or needed. AFAIK these VMs use barely any IO. The only thing you want to do is make sure they are on a reliable datastore.


  7. Hi,

    vCLS virtual machines count as virtualk machines for VMware ROBO?

    Thank you

  8. Sergio,

    That’s a great question! 🙂

    As per this VMware KB. I quote: “In deployments using VM based licensing like vSphere for ROBO licensing, vCLS VMs are shown in the licensing UI as counted towards the licensed VMs. But these VMs are not counted towards the licensing as these are system VMs.”.

    Hope that helps!


  9. Hello all,

    We set up a new Spectrum Protect backup from IBM. Still new to this and I am seeing the vCLS files are showing as unprotected. Is there a need to add these 4 or 5 vCLS files to a backup schedule? When we search for them it comes up empty.


  10. Hi Steve,

    No need to back these up as they are created, managed, and destroyed via automated mechanisms inside of vCenter. Restoring any would possibly cause a conflict and actually stop the services from functioning, additionally stopping the auto provisioning.

    When you search, they might not be showing up either because the backup platform may be configured to automatically ignore these (as it should), or because the service that the backup platform is using, doesn’t have visibility to these VMs. They are visible from high level administrator accounts, but may not be visible to manually configured administrator accounts.


  11. Hi Stephen,

    We have HPE RMC setup to backup the datastore. There are datastore without VCLS vm’s where the backup job is successful. Also there are datastore with VCLS vm’s where the backup phase will be running state for hours in create snapshot and it not complete.

    As we have checked with HPE, they have asked us to move the VCLS vm’s from those datastores where backup is scheduled with HPE RMC.

    THey have asked us to move all the VCLS from those datastore to an isolated datastore.

    Bharath S S

  12. Hi Bharath,

    You should be excluding the vCLS VMs from any backup applications. Additionally you shouldn’t have any 3rd party applications or softwares touching these VMs.

    Please refer to this post https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/com.vmware.vsphere.resmgmt.doc/GUID-6C11D7F9-4E92-4EA8-AA63-AABAD4B299E7.html for information on how to override the preffered datastores for vSphere Cluster Services (vCLS).


  13. DO I need to shut the vCLS down prier to upgrading the host to vmware 7.0?

  14. Hi Issa, any maintenance you do, you don’t have to do anything for vCLS. ESXi will automatically shutdown and boot the VM on its own.

    You can ignore it.

  15. We have 16 hosts per cluster in multiple clusters. Each cluster only has 3 vCLS VMs. It that normal? Recently our vCLS VMs started to show up in our Discovered VMs folders and we’re still trying to figure out why they are no longer going into their own vCLS folders as they did previously.

  16. Hi Steve,

    This sounds about right, however you can check the VMware documentation if you’d like verification.

    The purpose of vCLS is to maintain the cluster services in the event of a vCenter server failure, so not too many appliances would be required on a cluster basis.

    As for the placement, was the vCLS folder removed?

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