You can decide between a 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 use 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. 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 vSphere HA and vSphere 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 (using iSCSI Initiator) Yes Yes