March 2, 2024

Understanding vSAN – Can it be used with Traditional or vVols Storage?

On a call today this question came up: “Can vSAN be used with other storage?”

This is a very common question, covered in the vSAN FAQ on, as well in other publicly facing documentation.

The answer is an absolute YES!

A vSAN Cluster can also use traditional datastores and/or use vVols. This doesn’t mean that vSAN can use traditional storage or vVols to back disk groups, but rather that a vSAN Cluster can also consume traditional or vVols based storage along side vSAN.

Why wouldn’t this be supported?

This support is very desirable by customers who routinely use multiple storage types, for different use cases, and connected to a vSphere cluster.

Situations such as:

  • Continuing to be able to use existing storage investments that are still supported
  • Migrating from a soon to be retired legacy storage platform
  • Using a combination of vSAN and vVols
  • and more…

These are very desirable and advantageous to VMware customers.

Traditional datastores can be used just as they have, or they can also be rolled into VMware’s Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) like vSAN and vVols. There are several articles on VirtualBlocks covering SPBM that go further into this.

A couple recent articles include:

traditional datastores

A bigger question for the virtualization and storage admins reading this:

“Why aren’t you using SPBM for your vSphere storage?”

vSAN has a few different “deployment models” when it comes to hardware:

With vSAN being IP-based inter-node HCI storage, VMkernel interfaces handle the communications between vSAN nodes. Because they are IP-based, NFS and iSCSI based traditional storage can also be easily consumed by any of the above deployment models.

Traditional storage that is being consumed using Fibre Channel, would require an additional HBA/Adapter, and wouldn’t be supported in chassis/appliances that either cannot physically accommodate them, or simply do not allow them from a support perspective. So keep that in consideration.

Unlike some of the other vendors in the HCI space, VMware fully supports using vSAN alongside other supported vSphere storage.

Does your HCI vendor give you this flexibility?

This was originally posted on the VMware Virtual Blogs site:

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