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vSphere/vSAN 7 introduced a few new enhancements to hardware compatibility for VMware customers, vSAN VCG Notification Services, and integrated hardware compatibility checks with vSphere Lifecycle Manager vLCM. Pete Koehler recently wrote an article discussing the new vSAN VCG Notification Services. This article will discuss the integrated vSAN hardware compatibility checks in vSphere Lifecycle Manager vLCM.

The Importance of Hardware Compatibility

VMware vSAN is a foundational element of private and public clouds. Customers are consuming vSAN Ready Nodes in the private cloud, full stack HCI solutions like VMware Cloud Foundation, as well as hybrid cloud solutions like VMware Cloud on AWS. Each of these solutions starts with OEM hardware certified from the server manufacturer and VMware. Since hyperconverged architectures pool storage devices across hosts as a single shared datastore, VMware and hardware vendors work closely together to determine the systems and devices related to storage are suitable for production-level environments. The compatibility status of these devices can change for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a vendor’s ReadyNode platform is scheduled to sunset, or maybe a device and firmware combination of a storage controller must be updated to ensure predictable behavior. This is why it is important for customers to stay informed of any potential changes to the hardware in their servers.

Integrated vSAN Hardware Compatibility with vLCM

vSphere 7 introduces an entirely new solution for unified software and firmware lifecycle management that is native to vSphere. vSphere Lifecycle Manager (vLCM) is a powerful new framework based on a desired state model to deliver simple, reliable and consistent lifecycle operations for vSphere and HCI clusters.

When you initiate a hardware compatibility check for a cluster, vSphere Lifecycle Manager verifies that the components in the image are compatible with all storage controllers on the hosts in the cluster as per the vSAN VCG. vLCM scans the image and checks whether the physical I/O device controllers are compatible with the ESXi version specified in the image. Compatibility is checked only for vSAN storage controllers, and not with full VMware Compatibility Guide. If a device is imcomptible with the ESXi version in the desired image, an error will appear in the Hardware Compatibility tab of Updates. KB60382 identifies all IO Controllers that vSAN supports firmware updating.

The vSAN cluster in this demo has a hardware compatibility issue. One of the disk groups in the vSAN cluster has a disk attached to an incompatible storage controller. After removing the incompatible device and running another hardware compatibility check, vLCM determines the image is vSAN-Compatible with the hosts in the cluster.

Hardware compatibility issues are reported as warnings, but they do not prevent you from remediating the hosts in the cluster against the image. Hardware compatibility checks are available only for vSAN clusters that are managed with a single image (vLCM).

Summary

Maintaining compatible hardware on servers supporting production worloads is critically important. vSAN customers using vSAN Ready Nodes are starting with certified hardware, but it’s always important to stay informed of any changes to hardware or associated drivers and firmware. Customers can stay informed of any changes to the vSAN HCG with vSAN VCG Notification Services. Additionally, vSphere Lifecycle Manager’s integrated hardware compatibility checks will notify you of any incompatibilities in your environment.