One of the exciting new features in the latest VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) 5.1 release is the support for the vSphere 8.0 Update 2 and the new vSAN Express Storage Architecture (ESA), which can be enabled for both the VCF Management and Workload Domain.
As many of you already know, one of the easiest way to explore and play with new VCF releases is by leveraging Nested ESXi, which dramatically reduces the amount of time for setting up the infrastructure before you can start deploying VCF. This is how I initially played with VCF 5.0 and I had assumed the same would also work for the latest VCF 5.1 release.
Shortly after kicking off the VCF Bringup process, I noticed it failed immediately with an error about validating the virtual disks on my Nested ESXi VM against the vSAN HCL!? 😧
I thought this was really strange, especially in a non-VCF deployment, enabling vSAN ESA using vCenter Server only gives you a warning about your hardware not being on the vSAN HCL but does not stop you from continuing with the deployment. For testing and homelab purposes, this is completely acceptable and the fact that vCenter Server allows this operation but VCF blocks it, was an interesting UX decision.
If hardware validation against the vSAN HCL is required for VCF 5.1 when enabling vSAN ESA, then this would severely impact who can play with the latest VCF release, at least if you wanted to try out vSAN ESA.