On VMware ESXi, you can use local storage to store your virtual machines, your ISO images, ...
Nevertheless, there are advantages, disadvantages and information to check to be sure that it can work correctly and that your configuration is supported by VMware.
Direct Attached Storage (DAS) is local storage attached directly to the VMware ESXi server using an AHCI, SATA, SCSI, SAS storage controller using HBA mode or more often RAID mode.
The storage controller can be the one integrated into the motherboard of your computer or server in the case of a test environment.
For example, when you learn to use the VMware ESXi or VMware vSphere solution.
Important : in business, you will rather use a RAID controller.
Indeed, RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) provides fault tolerance and/or better performance (depending on the level of RAID used).
Generally, you will use at least RAID 5 to combine fault tolerance and performance. Or a RAID 10 to support the loss of 2 physical disks (fault tolerance) instead of just one with RAID 5.
Warning : the "RAID" feature available in some motherboards constitutes a hybrid or pseudo-hardware RAID.
Performance will therefore not be optimal since the memory used will be the random access memory (RAM) present on your motherboard.
Unlike a real RAID controller connected in PCI-E which will have its own processor and its own dedicated memory to manage operations related to RAID.
The main advantages of Direct Attached Storage (DAS) are :
The main disadvantages of Direct Attached Storage (DAS) are :
If you want to buy a RAID controller and be sure that it's supported by the version of VMware ESXi you want, you can use VMware's compatibility matrix.
Important : in business, it's essential to check that the desired storage controller (RAID or other) is officially supported by VMware. Indeed, otherwise, you will not be able to benefit from VMware support just in case.
In our case, we have an "Adaptec SmartRAID 3154-8i8e" controller which allows the use of HBA and/or RAID modes.
You will also find about twenty tutorials on our site about this RAID controller, its "ACU" configuration tool (the BIOS of the RAID controller) and the web interface "Adaptec maxView Storage Manager" which allows you to obtain a lot of information about the RAID controller, its RAID arrays, its logical disks, ...
In addition, it's also possible to manage this controller remotely via Adaptec maxView Storage Manager by installing a small module on your VMware ESXi hypervisor. Which is rather interesting.
To check the compatibility of the desired storage controller, go to the "VMware Compatibility Guide - IO Devices" page.
In the case of our "Adaptec SmartRAID 3154-8i8e" controller, we can check its support by VMware by indicating :
Then, click on : Update and View Results.
As expected, VMware tells us that this "Adaptec SmartRAID 3154-8i8e" controller is supported by VMware ESXi 6.7 and 7.0 without updates and with updates 1, 2 and 3.
In our VMware ESXi tutorials, we use version 6.7 U3.
Note that you can also find the complete list of storage controllers supported by VMware by consulting the "vi_io_guide.pdf" file (VMware I/O Compatibility Guide).
In our case, we can see in this PDF file that our "Adaptec SmartRAID 3154-8i8e" storage controller is supported by VMware ESXi 7.0, 6.7 and 6.5 without and with different ESXi updates.
In the VMware ESXi web interface, go to the "Storage -> Adapters" section.
As you can see, in our case, our RAID controller is recognized as "MSCC SmartRAID 3154-8i8e" and the driver used is "smartpqi".
In the "Storage -> Devices" section, you will find your RAID logical drive and possibly your RAID controller as well.
In our case, we can see 2 new devices :
Note : MSCC = Microsemi Corporation. That is, the name of the manufacturer of our RAID controller "Microsemi Adaptec SmartRAID 3154-8i8e".
If you click on the name of your RAID controller (ex : Local MSCC RAID Ctlr), you will see that it's a device whose:
If you click on the name of your logical RAID disk (ex : Local MSCC Disk), you will see :
On VMware ESXi, a datastore is a logical disk that can be created on a single disk and then can be spanned across a single disk or multiple disks if desired.
When you create a new datastore, the file system used will be VMFS (vSphere Virtual Machine File System) and the partition table that will be used when initializing the physical disk will be GPT.
Datastores allow you to store :
There are different versions of the VMFS file system and the partition table system used was previously MBR (with VMFS3).
Since VMFS5, GPT is now used, as it makes it possible to easily create datastores with a capacity greater than 2 TB if desired.
Note that if you migrate a VMFS3 datastore to VMFS5, the conversion from MBR to GPT will be performed only if you expand this datastore to a capacity greater than 2 TB.
On VMware ESXi 6.7, you can use VMFS5 or preferably VMFS6 which is obviously newer and therefore more interesting.
Among the differences between VMFS5 and VMFS6, you will mainly find :
Now that you have a compatible storage controller officially supported by VMware, you can create an additional datastore on one of your physical disks or on a RAID logical disk (created from the BIOS of your RAID controller).
To create a datastore on a physical disk or a RAID logical disk, refer to our "VMware ESXi 6.7 - Create a datastore" tutorial.
Then, to expand a datastore on the same disk or with an additional disk, refer to our tutorials :
Note that it's quite possible to expand a datastore when virtual machines stored in it are running.
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