An NFS client built into ESXi uses the Network File System (NFS) protocol over TCP/IP to access a designated NFS volume that is located on a NAS server. The ESXi host can mount the volume and use it for its storage needs. vSphere supports versions 3 and 4.1 of the NFS protocol.

Typically, the NFS volume or directory is created by a storage administrator and is exported from the NFS server. You do not need to format the NFS volume with a local file system, such as VMFS. Instead, you mount the volume directly on the ESXi hosts and use it to store and boot virtual machines in the same way that you use the VMFS datastores.

In addition to storing virtual disks on NFS datastores, you can use NFS as a central repository for ISO images, virtual machine templates, and so on. If you use the datastore for the ISO images, you can connect the CD-ROM device of the virtual machine to an ISO file on the datastore. You then can install a guest operating system from the ISO file.