A storage provider is a software component that is either offered by vSphere or is developed by a third party through the vSphere APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA). Storage providers integrate with a variety of storage entities that include external physical storage and storage abstractions, such as Virtual SAN and Virtual Volumes. Storage providers can also support software solutions, for example, I/O filters developed through vSphere APIs for I/O Filtering.
Generally, vSphere uses storage providers to obtain information about storage topology, status, and storage data services offered in your environment. This information appears in the vSphere Web Client. The information helps you to make appropriate decision about virtual machine placement and to monitor your storage environment.
The third-party storage provider is typically installed on the storage side and acts as a storage awareness service in the vSphere environment.
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 run on the ESXi hosts and 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 the Administering VMware Virtual SAN documentation.