VMware VSAN – Virtual SAN – How to configure

This article shows how to enable a VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) cluster within VMware vSphere.  If you are unfamiliar with VSAN, and what it is, I recommend reading the following articles.

Duncan Epping’s Tech Preview of Distributed Storage

Cormac Hogan’s Distributed Storage Tech Preview

Lets start off by looking at the Pre-requisites of VMware VSAN, what do we need in place before we begin the configuration.


There are a number of pre-requisites that are needed, prior to configuring a vSphere cluster to participate as a VSAN.  The following list shows the minimum requirements to implement a VSAN.

  • Minimum of three hosts.
  • Each storage* host has a minimum of one SSD and one spindle hard disk.
  • Each storage* host has a Pass-thru RAID controller as specified in the HCL.  The RAID controller must be able to present disks directly to the host without a RAID configuration.
  • 10GB Network.  (1GB network can be used for smaller environments, however 10GB is recommended).
  • VSAN VMkernel port configured on every host participating in the cluster.
  • Dedicated VSAN VLAN configured following the recommended vMotion best practices.
  • dVswitch or standard vSwitch with Management port group created.

Note: * The term storage used here determines hosts that will be used to provide the storage to the VSAN cluster.  Hosts without storage can still participate in the cluster, they will only provide compute resources.

Preparing hosts before joining a VSAN Cluster

Before we begin creating clusters and configuring VSAN, we need to configure the hosts ready to join a VSAN cluster.  The following requirements must be configured and available prior to joining a VSAN Cluster.

  • VSAN VMkernel Porg group created
  • Minimum of one SSD present in the host (for any host participating in providing storage resources)

The simplest way of doing this is to add each host to vCenter without joining a cluster.  Once the hosts are added to vCenter we can begin the configuration.

We need to add a VSAN VMkernel port group.  To do this, follow the steps below.

  1. From within vCenter, select the host you want to configure
  2. Select the Manage tab
  3. Select the Networking tab
  4. Select VMkernel adapaters
  5. Click the Add Host Networking buttonScreen Shot 2013-07-17 at 13.43.54
  6. Make sure VMkernel Network Adapter is checked and click NextVMware VSAN
  7. Select an existing vswitch depending on the configuration of your host
  8. Configure the VMkernel port properties.  You will notice some changes on this screenVMware VSAN
    1. Give the VMkernel Port a relevant name, for example VSANVMK
    2. Enter the VLAN ID
    3. Check Virtual SAN traffic this enables the VSAN VMkernel port
    4. Click Next
    5. Configure the IPv4 settings for this VMkernel port and click Next
    6. Click Finish
    7. Confirm that the port group has been created
    8. The port group has now been created.  Follow steps 1 through 10 for each host.  For large clusters Host profiles or a PowerCLI script would be recommended.VMware VSAN

We now need to confirm that the host meets the pre-requisites for the storage.  As described above, we need at least 1 SSD and 1 Hard disk.  To do this follow the steps below:

  1. From within vCenter, select the host you want to configure
  2. Select the Manage tab
  3. Select the Storage tab
  4. Select Storage Devices
  5. Check the Drive Type column for SSDVMware VSAN
  6. Confirm that at least one SSD exists.

Complete all the steps in this section for every host that will be providing storage resources to the VSAN cluster.

Configuring a VMware VSAN Cluster

After following the steps in the previous section, we are now ready to create our VSAN cluster.  Create a cluster following the standard steps, but do not enable any of the vSphere cluster features.  We will enable these in a later step.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 13.04.42

We can now begin to add hosts to this created cluster.  The simplest way to carry out this action is use the Move Hosts into Cluster option by right clicking on the cluster object.


Once the hosts have been added to the cluster, we can begin to configure and enable VSAN.  To do this follow the steps below:

  1. Select the cluster object
  2. Select the tab Manage
  3. Under settings select General under Virtual SAN
  4. Click Edit
  5. Check Turn on Virtual SAN
  6. Select the method to add disks to the storage.  Two options here are Automatic and Manual.  In most cases you would select Automatic.  This would configure VSAN immediately and make it available for use.  In this example we will select Manual to demonstrate how to create disk groups.VMware VSAN
  7. Click OK
  8. You will now see a number of tasks running to Update VSAN configuration for every host in the clusterVMware VSAN
  9. Once completed you should see a Virtual SAN is Turned On and Network Status is Normal green tick.


We will now add the hosts disks to a disk group and create a Datastore.  As previously mentioned, this would normally be done Automatically, if we had selected that option when configuring VSAN.

  1. 1.     Select Disk Management
  2. 2.     Click the Create a New Disk Group buttonScreen Shot 2013-07-17 at 14.18.46
  3. 3.     We are now presented with the Create Disk Group WizardVMware VSAN
  4. 4.     Select the SSD we want to use as a write cache and read buffer, and the hard disks we want to use for storage, select OK.
  5. 5.     The create new disk group task will be running.   VMware VSAN                 
  6. 6.     You will now see a disk group created for that host.VMware VSANIts important to note that this disk group has only been created for the first host.  None of the other hosts are providing storage in a VSAN cluster at this point.
  7. 7.     We should now see a datastore created and available.Notice the capacity of this data store, this only includes the three 40GB  disks present in the first host.  Lets continue and create more disk groups.  This will increase the size of the datastore dynamically.VMware VSAN
  8. 8.     Follow steps 1 – 7 for each host you want to provide storage to the VSAN cluster.  As you do, the datastore capacity will increase.
  9. 9.     Once all the disks are added, you can see the capacity of the datastore is shared across all the hostsVMware VSAN



  1. Testing vSAN in a Nested vSphere Environment | vXpertise - September 2, 2013

    […] For simulating the vSAN feature in a nested environment just use the detailed guide from David Hill at virtual-blog. […]

  2. Virtual Blog - VMworld 2013 recap - Day 1 - Virtual Blog - September 4, 2013

    […] VMware Virtual SAN – How to configure […]

  3. Homelab with vSphere 5.5 and VSAN | Erik Bussink - September 5, 2013

    […] interface for VSAN, and that you need to disable HA before turning VSAN on. This article “VSAN How to Configure” by David Hill does an excellent job, and his follow-up post “Configure disk redundancy […]

  4. Virtual Blog - VMware Virtual SAN Scalability Limits - VSAN - Virtual Blog - September 10, 2013

    […] you want to read more information on how to install and configure VMware Virtual SAN click here to read my previous […]

  5. Welcome to vSphere-land! » vSphere 5.5 Link-O-Rama - September 15, 2013

    […] Home Lab (Sean Crookston) vSphere 5.5 VSAN, Introducing Your New Storage Vendor VMware (vClouds) VMware VSAN – Virtual SAN – How to configure (Virtual-blog) Configure Disk Redundancy VMware VSAN – Virtual SAN (Virtual-blog) VMware Virtual […]

  6. vSphere Testing vSAN in a Nested vSphere Environment | vXpertise - October 26, 2013

    […] For simulating the vSAN feature in a nested environment just use the detailed guide from David Hill at virtual-blog. […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright David Hill

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes

%d bloggers like this: