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Dell VxRail Architecture Overview


VMware vSAN ESA overview

VMware vSAN ESA leverages advances in storage and network technology to offer performance and manageability improvements over VMware vSAN OSA.

Figure 1. VMware vSAN data store based on VMware vSAN ESA
VMware vSAN data store based on VMware vSAN ESA

Both VMware vSAN OSA and VMware vSAN ESA use the storage devices in the drive slots to form the data store and the VMware vSAN network for connectivity purposes. Some of the features of VMware vSAN ESA are:

  • VMware vSAN ESA uses NVMe drives, higher CPU core counts, and high-speed networks to offer a simpler, more balanced design with higher overall performance.
  • Each VxRail node supporting a data store that is based on VMware vSAN ESA requires a minimum of 32 CPU cores and 512 GB memory.
  • Only compatible NVMe-based storage devices can be used as standard (SAS or SATA) SSD and spinning disk drives are not supported with ESA.
  • VMware vSAN ESA requires a minimum 25 GB network, but a 100 GB network is recommended as per the Dell VxRail Performance Analysis white paper.
  • VxRail 8.x introduced a revised set of minimum hardware requirements for an AF-0 profile node that can accommodate 10GbE networking, 128GB memory, and 16 CPU cores that enable VMware vSAN ESA deployments with moderate performance needs, and smaller data centers or edge environments.
  • The concept of disk groups as the data store building block is removed with VMware vSAN ESA. This removes the disk group as a failure domain, as the loss of the cache drive impacts the entire disk group.
  • VMware vSAN ESA is based on the foundation of storage pools where all storage devices operate independently when contributing to the pool.
  • VMware vSAN ESA architecture provides more flexibility, more resilience to hardware failure, more efficiency with a new log-structured file system, and better performance.

Object availability enforcement in a VMware vSAN storage policy is similar in both VMware vSAN ESA and VMware vSAN OSA, in that the setting dictates the number of copies to maintain across storage devices while VMware vSAN ESA also moves compression from a data store level setting to a per object or VM option enabling it by default.

For more information about VMware vSAN versions, see the VMware vSAN technical page.

Requirements and supported platforms

To view the supported versions, see the VxRail Support Matrix.


Consider the following VMware vSAN ESA license requirements:

  • VMware vSAN ESA requires either a VMware vSAN Advanced, Enterprise, or Enterprise Plus Edition license.​ ELA also supports VMware vSAN+ licenses.
  • An existing and compatible license for VMware vSAN based on VMware vSphere 7 can be transferred to VMware vSAN ESA on vSphere 8 through the VMware licensing portal.​
  • VMware vSphere 8 license is required for each VxRail node.​
  • A VMware vSphere 8 license is required for VMware vCenter Server instances supporting a VxRail cluster running VMware vSAN ESA.​

For a complete list of VMware vSAN ESA requirements, see the VMware vSAN ESA landing page.

VMware vCenter Server

While deploying a VMware vSAN ESA cluster, consider the following:

  • Starting with VxRail 8.0 version, VMware vSAN ESA supports VxRail-managed VMware vCenter Server and customer-managed VMware vCenter Server.
  • VxRail 8.0 (vSphere 8.0) supports both VMware vSAN OSA and VMware vSAN ESA.​​
  • Upgrade customer-managed VMware vCenter Server to version 8 to support a VxRail cluster running VxRail 8.0.​ VMware vCenter Server running version 8 supports VxRail clusters running VMware vSAN ESA. For more information about the interoperability matrix for VxRail and customer-managed VMware vCenter Server, see the VxRail and external vCenter interoperability matrix.


When upgrading VMware vSAN ESA, consider the following:

  • VMware vSAN ESA is only supported for new deployments.​
  • VxRail LCM upgrades both vSAN ESA and vSAN OSA.
  • Upgrades to VxRail 8.0 only for upgrading from a VMware vSAN OSA data store to a VMware vSAN ESA data store is not supported.​

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