When a virtual machine communicates with its virtual disk stored on a datastore, it issues SCSI commands. Because datastores can exist on various types of physical storage, these commands are encapsulated into other forms, depending on the protocol that the ESXi host uses to connect to a storage device.

ESXi supports Fibre Channel (FC), Internet SCSI (iSCSI), Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and NFS protocols. Regardless of the type of storage device your host uses, the virtual disk always appears to the virtual machine as a mounted SCSI device. The virtual disk hides a physical storage layer from the virtual machine’s operating system. This allows you to run operating systems that are not certified for specific storage equipment, such as SAN, inside the virtual machine.

Note: Starting from vSphere 7.0, VMware no longer supports software FCoE in production environments.

The following graphic depicts five virtual machines using different types of storage to illustrate the differences between each type.

Figure 1. Virtual machines accessing different types of storage

The image shows how virtual machines access different types of storage.
Note: This diagram is for conceptual purposes only. It is not a recommended configuration.