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How To: VMware Cloud Foundation with VMFS on FC as Principal Storage

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VMware Cloud Foundation provides wizard-driven workflows that enables users to deploy entire vCenter-based environments with a few simple clicks; automating many of the repetitive tasks normally associated with creation and maintenance.  This document will provide step-by-step instructions for bringing up a Workload Domain within VMware Cloud Foundation using a VMFS volume attached to a FlashArray with the Fibre-Channel (FC) protocol.  To use iSCSI, please see this KB article and use either the vSAN or NFS deployment type using the process described.  At this time iSCSI and vVols are not supported natively within VMware Cloud Foundation Workload Deployment (though it is supported to add them to a workload domain after deployment as Supplemental Storage).  If those functionalities are added in the future this KB will be updated accordingly.

We assume that the following prerequisites have been completed prior to the steps outlined within this article:

  • VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9 or later.
  • Management Cluster (4 – 8 hosts) with vSAN has been deployed using VMware Cloud Builder.
  • VMware SDDC Manager is available and online.
  • ESXi has been installed on all target Workload Servers and setup for use in VMware Cloud Foundation per VMware documentation.
  • ESXi Workload hosts have been commissioned for use within SDDC Manager.
  • Pure Storage FlashArray(s) has/have been cabled, setup and properly zoned for connectivity to Workload Domain ESXi hosts with FC.

Workload Domain Deployment Process

This flowchart represents the overall steps needed to deploy a VCF Workload Domain with Fibre Channel.

clipboard_ea3b500ee6ddb9895a64b563e2fde54e5.pngThe first step in this process will be creating a host group comprised of the ESXi hosts you want to use in your Workload Domain, creating and then connecting a volume to the host group and lastly formatting a VMFS volume for use.  This pre-work can be accomplished in a few ways but the easiest is with the Pure Storage PowerShell module with the Initalize-PfavCfWorkloadDomain cmdlet.

This cmdlet:

  • Takes in a comma separated list of ESXi FQDNs/IPs, their credentials, a datastore name, a size, and a FlashArray connection
  • Connects directly to each ESXi host directly, gets their FC WWNs, creates a host object on the FlashArray for each
  • Creates a host group and adds each host
  • Creates a new volume of the specified size
  • Rescans one ESXi host and formats it with VMFS
  • Rescans the remaining hosts
  • Disconnects from the hosts
  • If any step fails it will clean up anything it did


$faCreds = get-credential

New-PfaConnection -endpoint <FlashArray FQDN/IP> -credentials $faCreds -ignoreCertificateError -defaultArray

$creds = get-credential

Initialize-PfaVcfWorkloadDomain -esxiHosts <array of IPs or FQDNs> -credentials $creds -datastoreName <datastore name> -sizeInTB <datastore size> -fc

Log into one of the ESXi hosts either through the Direct Connect UI or CLI and navigate to Storage.


Rescan the vHBA adapters on the host to pickup the newly created Pure Storage volume.


Login to the other ESXi hosts and perform a rescan.  Confirm that the new VMFS datastore is available on all hosts to be part of the Workload Domain before proceeding.


Login to the VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager instance.  Click on adding a Workload Domain.  


Select the VMFS on FC storage type.


Provide basic cluster identifying information.


Provide Workload Domain vCenter specifications.  Note that forward and reverse DNS lookup entries for vCenter must be made prior to Workload Domain construction.


For VMware Cloud Foundation 3.9 and earlier, there are two options for networking with VMware Cloud Foundation:  NSX-V and NSX-T.  In VCF 4.0 and above, NSX-T is the only networking option.  Similar to vCenter, all DNS forward and reverse lookup entries must also be made prior to deployment.  In this example deployment we use NSX-T.


Select at a minimum 3 ESXi hosts to be members of the Workload Domain cluster.  Additional hosts can be added and removed later (provided there are a minimum of three hosts).  This greatly enhances the ability scale up and scale down workloads based on real-time business needs.


Enter the VMFS datastore name that was created earlier in this article.


Provide license files for vCenter and NSX-T.

Confirm Object Names that are auto-generated via the earlier steps in the deployment do not conflict with any existing VMware Objects.


Review deployment settings and click ‘Finish’ to build the environment.

Once the Workload Domain has finished deployment, you now have a multitude of options for how to connect and administer Pure Storage alongside of it. 

Some options are: 


Narrated Demo Video

This video provides narrated step-by-step instructions on setting up a Workload Domain with VMware Cloud Foundation with Fibre Channel.