vSphere uses storage providers to integrate with external physical storage and storage abstractions. When using storage providers, vSphere can gain a better insight into resources and obtain comprehensive and meaningful storage data. vSphere can also communicate to storage any requirements that are based on storage policies you define for virtual machines.

A storage provider is a software component that is either provided by vSphere or developed by a third party through the vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA). The third-party storage provider is typically installed on the storage side and acts as a storage awareness service in the vSphere environment. ESXi hosts and vCenter Server connect to the storage provider and obtain information about available storage topology, capabilities, and status. Subsequently vCenter Server provides this information to the vSphere Web Client. This information helps storage policy based management (SPBM) make decisions about virtual disk placement and compliance.

To find out whether your storage supports the storage provider plug-ins, contact your storage vendor.

If your storage supports third-party storage providers, use the vSphere Web Client to register and manage each storage provider component.

Built-in storage providers typically do not require registration. For example, the storage provider that supports Virtual SAN becomes registered automatically when you enable Virtual SAN. For more information, see Working with Virtual SAN.