Depending on whether you want to use baselines or images for software lifecycle management, you must comply with a different set of requirements. To achieve your goals, you must also know the specifics in behavior and limitations that vSphere Lifecycle Manager has.

Table 1. Requirements for Using vSphere Lifecycle Manager
Scenario Requirements
Using a single image to manage a cluster.
  • All ESXi hosts in the cluster must be of version 7.0 and later.
  • All ESXi hosts in the cluster must be stateful.

    A stateful install is one in which the the host boots from a disk.

  • All ESXi hosts in the cluster must be from the same vendor and with identical hardware.

    Different generations and models of servers need different software drivers, which implies that you must set up different vSphere Lifecycle Manager images to manage each generation or model. However, with vSphere Lifecycle Manager, you use one single image for the entire cluster. Also, vSphere Lifecycle Manager does not detect and handle the hardware differences between the hosts in the cluster.

    You can use a vSphere Lifecycle Manager image to manage a heterogeneous cluster only if the vSphere Lifecycle Manager image for the cluster includes vendor customization, for example a vendor or firmware add-on, that can address and handle the hardware differences across the hosts in the cluster, which is a rare scenario.

  • The cluster must include only integrated solutions. For example:
    • VMware vSAN™
    • VMware vSphere® High Availability (HA)
    • vSphere with Tanzu
Using baselines and baseline groups to manage a cluster.
  • To use baselines for ESXi host patching operations, vSphere Lifecycle Manager works with ESXi 6.5, ESXi 6.7, and ESXi 7.0.
  • To use baselines for ESXi host upgrade operations, vSphere Lifecycle Manager works withESXi 6.5, ESXi 6.7, and their respective Update releases.
Switching from using baselines to using a single image to manage a cluster.
Upgrading virtual machine hardware and VMware Tools

For VMware Tools and virtual machine hardware upgrade operations, vSphere Lifecycle Manager works with ESXi 6.5, ESXi 6.7, and ESXi 7.0.

Table 2. vSphere Lifecycle Manager Behavior Specifics
Scenario vSphere Lifecycle Manager Behavior
Using a single image to manage a cluster.
  • When you set up and save an image for a cluster, the image is not applied to the hosts in the cluster unless you remediate the hosts. The mere action of changing the management method does not alter the hosts in the cluster.
  • After you set up an image for the cluster and remediate the hosts in the cluster against the image, standalone VIBs are deleted from the hosts.
  • After you set up an image for the cluster and remediate the hosts in the cluster against the image, non-integrated solution agents are deleted from the hosts.
Switching from using baselines to using a single image to manage a cluster.
  • If you switch to using images, you cannot revert to using baselines for the cluster. You can move the hosts to a cluster that uses baselines, but you cannot change a cluster that already uses a single image for management purposes.
  • If you enable a solution that cannot work with vSphere Lifecycle Manager, for example Dell EMC VxRail, on an empty cluster and attempt to switch to using an image for that cluster, the transition operation succeeds. However, the result is an unsupported cluster configuration, because both vSphere Lifecycle Manager and the non-integrated solution are enabled on the cluster.