To create and manage a workload domain, VMware Cloud Foundation requires a principal storage service for all ESXi hosts within the workload domain. When a principal storage service has been provisioned and the workload domain has been created, supplemental storage can be provided to the workload domain using the vSphere Client.

VMware Cloud Foundation uses and is validated against vSAN, NFS v3, VMFS on FC, and vVols for the principal storage. The management domain requires vSAN for the principal storage. You can use vSAN, NFS v3, VMFS on FC, or vVols for the principal storage with VI workload domains. The type of principal storage used by the initial vSphere cluster in a VI workload domain is defined when the VI workload domain is created. For VI workload domains, you can add vSphere clusters that use a different type of principal storage than the type selected for the initial cluster when the VI workload domain was created. After a vSphere cluster has been deployed, you cannot change to another storage type.

Using vSAN as the principal storage for all VI workload domains uses the benefits of managing and maintaining a full software-defined stack. vSAN is also updated and patched through the SDDC Manager lifecycle management. Updating and patching non-vSAN storage is a manual task and falls outside of the SDDC Manager lifecycle management. To ensure the supportability, non-vSAN storage and HBAs must be validated against the vSphere HCL.

Supplemental storage can be added to the management domain or a VI workload domain for the purposes of workload migration, backup and archive purposes. VMware Cloud Foundation supports vVols, iSCSI, NFS (v3 or v4.1), and VMFS on FC as the supplemental storage. See vSphere Storage for information about adding these storage types.

Supported principal and supplemental storage

Both the principal and supplemental storage must be listed in the VMware Compatibility Guide for vSphere Storage and validated by the storage vendor as a VMware Cloud Foundation supplemental storage solution. SDDC Manager processes do not manage or integrate the supplemental storage. VMware Cloud Foundation manages lifecycle processes automatically and without direct intervention, any storage provided to a workload domain must not modify the workload domain hosts in such a way that maintenance mode or graceful guest shutdown requests are prevented or dependent upon another separate process or action. The workload domains can be scaled up or down by adding or removing ESXi hosts, any storage provided to a workload domain must not prevent the processes used by SDDC Manager to add or remove hosts in vSphere clusters.

Storage requiring the use of VMware Installation Bundles (VIBs) is supported, provided the storage presented is vSAN, NFS, VMFS on FC, or vVols. However, VMware Cloud Foundation does not manage or maintain VIBs which must be installed or upgraded after deploying or upgrading ESXi. Work with your storage vendor to manage these VIBs.

VMware Cloud Foundation supports stretched clusters with clusters that use external (non-vSAN) storage. Contact your storage vendor for more information.