vSphere ESXi Image Builder lets you manage vSphere image profiles and VIBs.

VIBs are software packages, and image profiles contain a set of software packages. See Software Depots and Their Components.

Figure 1. Image Builder Architecture

Image Builder takes an image profile and one or more VIBs as input and produces an ISO or a ZIP as output.

You use vSphere ESXi Image Builder cmdlets for managing the software to deploy to your ESXi hosts in several different situations.

Table 1. Cases Where You Can Use vSphere ESXi Image Builder
Use Case for vSphere ESXi Image Builder Description
Create image profiles for use by vSphere Auto Deploy Use vSphere ESXi Image Builder to create an image profile that defines the VIBs that vSphere Auto Deploy uses to provision hosts.
Add custom third-party drivers to existing image profile and export to ISO or bundle When you add third-party driver or extension custom VIBs to your ESXi hosts, use vSphere ESXi Image Builder to clone the base image provided by VMware, add the custom VIBs, and export to ISO or to offline bundle ZIP file.
Perform upgrades If you upgrade from a 4.0 or 4.1 system that includes custom extensions or drivers, you can use vSphere ESXi Image Builder to create an image profile that includes the vSphere 5 base VIB. You can create vSphere 5 VIBs for the custom extensions and add those VIBs to the base VIB. Export the custom image profile to an ISO you can install or to a ZIP that you can use with vSphere Update Manager.
Create custom images with reduced footprint If you require a minimal footprint image, you can clone the ESXi base image profile and remove VIBs using vSphere ESXi Image Builder.

The vSphere ESXi Image Builder cmdlets take image profiles and VIBs as input and produce various outputs.

Table 2. Input and Output to the vSphere ESXi Image Builder Cmdlets
Parameter Description
Input Image profiles and VIBs that are located in a software depot are used as input to PowerCLI cmdlets running on a Windows client.
Output PowerCLI cmdlets create custom image profiles that can be exported to an ISO image or an offline depot ZIP file. ISO images are used for installation. The ZIP depot can be used by Update Manager or by esxcli software commands to update or install images. Image profiles are also used in vSphere Auto Deploy rules to customize the software to provision ESXi hosts with.

Watch the video "Using Image Builder CLI" for information about vSphere ESXi Image Builder: