You can upgrade ESXi with a custom ISO from your vendor. This feature is available for VMware Cloud Foundation version 3.5.1 and later.


Download the appropriate vendor-specific ISO on a computer with internet access.


  1. Download the ESXi upgrade bundle. See Download Bundles from SDDC Manager.
  2. Using SSH, log in to the SDDC Manager VM.
  3. Create a directory for the vendor ISO under the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount directory. For example, /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries.
  4. Copy the vendor-specific ISO to the directory you created on the SDDC Manager VM. For example, you can copy the ISO to the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries directory.
  5. Change permissions on the directory where you copied the ISO. For example,
    chmod -R 775 /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries/
  6. Change owner to vcf.
    chown -R vcf_lcm:vcf /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries/
  7. Create an ESX custom image JSON using the following template.
    "esxCustomImageSpecList": [{
    "bundleId": "ID",
    "targetEsxVersion": "version",
    "useVcfBundle": false,
    "customIsoAbsolutePath": "Path_to_ISO"
    Parameter Description and Example Value
    bundleId ID of the ESXi upgrade bundle you downloaded. You can retrieve the bundle ID by navigating to the Repository > Bundles page and clicking View Details to view the bundle ID.
    For example, 8c0de63d-b522-4db8-be6c-f1e0ab7ef554.
    Note: If an incorrect bundle ID is provided, the upgrade will proceed with the VMware Cloud Foundation stock ISO and replace the custom VIBs in your environment with the stock VIBs.
    targetEsxVersion ESXi version in the custom image to be applied.
    useVcfBundle Specifies whether the VMware Cloud Foundation ESXi bundle is to be used for the upgrade.
    Note: If you want to upgrade with a custom ISO image, ensure that this is set to false.
    customIsoAbsolutePath Path to the custom ISO file on the SDDC Manager VM. For example, /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries/ VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-Update1-10302608-HPE-Gen9plus-670.U1.

    Here is an example of a completed JSON template.

    "esxCustomImageSpecList": [{
    "bundleId": "8c0de63d-b522-4db8-be6c-f1e0ab7ef554",
    "targetEsxVersion": "6.7.0-10302608",
    "useVcfBundle": false,
  8. Save the JSON file as esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json in the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount.
    Note: If the JSON file is not saved in the correct directory, the stock VMware Cloud Foundation ISO is used for the upgrade and the custom VIBs are overwritten.
  9. Set the correct permissions on the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json file:

    chmod -R 775 /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json

    chown -R vcf_lcm:vcf /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json

  10. Open the /opt/vmware/vcf/lcm/lcm-app/conf/ file.
  11. In the lcm.esx.upgrade.custom.image.spec= parameter, add the path to the JSON file.
    For example, lcm.esx.upgrade.custom.image.spec=/nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json
  12. On the SDDC Manager Dashboard, click Inventory > Workload Domains.
  13. Click the management domain and then click Updates/Patches.
  14. Schedule the ESXi upgrade bundle.
  15. Monitor the upgrade progress. See Monitor Updates.
  16. After the upgrade is complete, confirm the ESXi version by clicking Current Versions. The ESXi hosts table displays the current ESXi version.