Unable to Reuse vSAN Disks for New vSAN Cluster

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During recent testing that I was completing within my home lab, I was repeatedly creating and decommissioning VMware vSAN configurations within a single cluster. The first time I completed this process, I was decommissioning a VMware vSAN OSA configuration prior to creating a new VMware vSAN ESA configuration on the cluster. When I went through the process and reached the portion to specify the disks, I found that the disks were unavailable for claiming. After doing a bit of quick investigating, it was obvious that the disks still had VMware vSAN partitions on them and that the VMware ESXi hosts would not allow them to be reused while the data still existed. My next step in attempting to resolve this issue was to delete the partitions from the disks. This was easily accomplished by accessing the Storage Devices under the host’s Configure tab within the vSphere Client. From there, I selected the storage devices and click the Erase Partitions button. Back to the VMware vSAN cluster configuration, and sure enough, the disks were available to be claimed, and all was well.

Later on, while attempting the same process of decommissioning the VMware vSAN ESA configuration to create a new VMware vSAN OSA configuration, I followed the same process of disabling VMware vSAN services and then attempted to delete the partitions from my NVMe devices. Only this time, I was greeted with a lovely little error within the VMware vSphere Client that stated, Cannot change the host configuration. Failed to update the disk partitions for <drive>. Below is a screenshot of the errors that I received:

Screenshot of the vSphere Client showing errors received when attempt to delete disk partitions.

Thinking that maybe there was just something silly happening with the VMware vSphere Client, I also attempted to SSH to the VMware ESXi host and attempt to delete the partition using the partedUtil command. However, when I executed the partedUtil delete command, I received the following error:

Error: Read-only file system during write on /dev/disks/t10.NVMe____Samsung_SSD_970_EVO_Plus_1TB____________3808430158382500

Unable to delete partition 1 from device /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.NVMe____Samsung_SSD_970_EVO_Plus_1TB____________3808430158382500

These errors truly had me stumped. I thought to myself, “There is no way that VMware would totally block me from deleting unused vSAN partitions, would they?” Finally, I attempted one of the most basic troubleshooting steps used in IT; I rebooted the VMware ESXi host. After a reboot, I attempted to delete the disk partitions from within the VMware vSphere Client, and as you probably have guessed, they were deleted successfully.

So the moral of the story is: If you run into any strange errors removing disk partitions from unused disks within VMware ESXi, give the host a reboot, as there is a good chance that this will resolve the issue.

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