A vVols storage provider, also called a VASA provider, is a software component that acts as a storage awareness service for vSphere. The provider mediates out-of-band communication between vCenter Server and ESXi hosts on one side and a storage system on the other.

The storage provider is implemented through VMware APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) and is used to manage all aspects of vVols storage. The storage provider integrates with the Storage Monitoring Service (SMS), shipped with vSphere, to communicate with vCenter Server and ESXi hosts.

The storage provider delivers information from the underlying storage container. The storage container capabilities appear in vCenter Server and the vSphere Client. Then, in turn, the storage provider communicates virtual machine storage requirements, which you can define in the form of a storage policy, to the storage layer. This integration process ensures that a virtual volume created in the storage layer meets the requirements outlined in the policy.

Typically, vendors are responsible for supplying storage providers that can integrate with vSphere and provide support to vVols. Every storage provider must be certified by VMware and properly deployed. For information about deploying and upgrading the vVols storage provider to a version compatible with current ESXi release, contact your storage vendor.

After you deploy the storage provider, you must register it in vCenter Server, so that it can communicate with vSphere through the SMS.