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The Basics: How to Build a vSAN with VMware 6.7

By March 30, 2020September 23rd, 2020Blog, Networking, Virtualization, VMWare
Claim unused disks in vSphere Client


vSAN is licensed separately from ESXi and vCenter. You must obtain a separate license and decide which tier you need. More info here. For the most part, all you need is vSAN Standard. If you want deduplication, go to Advanced. For encryption, go to Enterprise and if you are running a colocation, use vROps upgrade to Enterprise Plus.


You must have a functioning vCenter server in order to create a cluster.

vSAN Installation:

There is no installation media. Your standard ESXi 6.7 ISO will suffice. Create a cluster, add hosts, setup VMKernel adapters and go.

Configure Network and Enable vSAN:

You can run gigabit, but you probably shouldn’t. Best practice is to build separate VMkernel adapters for vSAN and dedicate them to vSAN only. This is separate from your ‘Storage’ traffic, meaning you should separate inter-node vSAN traffic from vSAN to VM storage traffic. vSAN is enabled on the cluster level, same as HA; it’s just one check box.

Turn on vSAN screenshot

Setup HDD and SDD:

You must enable pass through on your Raid controller. HP calls this ‘HBA’ mode.

Enable HBA Pass through on Raid controllers

Controller Driver:

From experience with VMware support, I can confirm that many ESXi builds contain VIBs incompatible with vSAN. This is prevalent in vendor-supplied ESXi builds such as Custom Cisco or Custom HP ESXi install media. Visit VMware Hardware Compatibility List and verify the VIB you are using is on the list for vSAN. This is a separate list from ESXi HCL.

Add HDD and SDD to Cluster

Below is NOT the correct place to add storage–we are not creating a datastore yet. We are validating the host can see each individual drive by going to ‘datastores’ and ‘new’. If you see your SSDs and HDDs that’s great. If you can’t then UEFI is not correctly presenting the drives to the ESXi host.

check UEFI is presenting drives to ESXi host

Claim Drives for vSAN usage

After confirming you can see all drives in the regular ESXi datastore creation wizard, claim your disks.

Claim unused disks in vSphere Client

Fault Domains and Disk Groups

At this point, architecture decisions need to be made. Fault Domains and Disk Groups can be configured in a normal or Stretched vSAN cluster. The steps can be specific to your environment and require a more detailed writeup.

JacobR, PEI

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