You can choose between traditional storage, VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes, and VMware vSAN storage.  

Storage Types

Traditional Storage

Fibre Channel, NFS, and iSCSI are mature and viable options to support virtual machine needs.

VMware vSAN Storage

vSAN is a software-based distributed storage platform that combines the compute and storage resources of VMware ESXi hosts. When you design and size a vSAN cluster, hardware choices are more limited than for traditional storage.

VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes

This design does not leverage VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes because not all storage arrays have the same vSphere Virtual Volume feature sets enabled.

Traditional Storage and vSAN Storage

Fibre Channel, NFS, and iSCSI are mature and viable options to support virtual machine needs.

Your decision to implement one technology or another can be based on performance and functionality, and on considerations like the following:

  • The organization’s current in-house expertise and installation base

  • The cost, including both capital and long-term operational expenses

  • The organization’s current relationship with a storage vendor

vSAN is a software-based distributed storage platform that combines the compute and storage resources of ESXi hosts. It provides a simple storage management experience for the user. This solution makes software-defined storage a reality for VMware customers. However, you must carefully consider supported hardware options when sizing and designing a vSAN cluster.

Storage Type Comparison

ESXi hosts support a variety of storage types. Each storage type supports different vSphere features.

Table 1. Network Shared Storage Supported by ESXi Hosts

Technology

Protocols

Transfers

Interface

Fibre Channel

FC/SCSI

Block access of data/LUN

Fibre Channel HBA

Fibre Channel over Ethernet

FCoE/SCSI

Block access of data/LUN

Converged network adapter (hardware FCoE)

NIC with FCoE support (software FCoE)

iSCSI

IP/SCSI

Block access of data/LUN

iSCSI HBA or iSCSI enabled NIC (hardware iSCSI)

Network Adapter (software iSCSI)

NAS

IP/NFS

File (no direct LUN access)

Network adapter

vSAN

IP

Block access of data

Network adapter

Table 2. vSphere Features Supported by Storage Type

Type

vSphere vMotion

Datastore

Raw Device Mapping (RDM)

Application or Block-level Clustering

HA/DRS

Storage APIs Data Protection

Local Storage

Yes

VMFS

No

Yes

No

Yes

Fibre Channel / Fibre Channel over Ethernet

Yes

VMFS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

iSCSI

Yes

VMFS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

NAS over NFS

Yes

NFS

No

No

Yes

Yes

vSAN

Yes

vSAN

No

Yes (via iSCSI Initiator)

Yes

Yes