VMware, OEMs, and third-party software vendors distribute software by uploading it to online depots or by providing you with downloadable offline bundles. The vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot contains all software updates from the online and offline depots that you use with vSphere Lifecycle Manager.
In air-gap scenarios, you can configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to use a UMDS depot. With Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) clusters, you can take advantage of vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot overrides.
An online depot is a format for delivering software. You access the online depot through a URL. vSphere Lifecycle Manager downloads the content from the online depots that you configure it to use.
vSphere Lifecycle Manager is preconfigured to use the official VMware online depot.
Starting with vSphere 7.0, the official VMware online depot also hosts vendor add-ons and VMware-certified device drivers. Unlike previous releases, all software that you need to install, update, or customize the ESXi version of your hosts is available in the official VMware online depot.
Firmware updates are not hosted in the VMware depot. To perform firmware updates, you must install the hardware support manager plug-in that your hardware vendor provides. The plug-in gives you access to depots that contain the necessary firmware and related drivers updates.
In the vSphere Client, you can list additional online depots for vSphere Lifecycle Manager to download additional third-party components from, for example CIM modules. However, working with additional third-party depots and independent components is rarely necessary. In most cases, the vendor add-ons that are available in the official VMware depot provide full OEM customization for ESXi.
When you deploy vCenter Server, vSphere Lifecycle Manager synchronizes with the official VMware online depot. During synchronization, vSphere Lifecycle Manager downloads the updates metadata from the online depot and exposes it to you through the vSphere Client. After the initial synchronization, you can schedule a download task to run at regular intervals or you can initiate a download task manually.
When vSphere Lifecycle Manager synchronizes to online depots, it downloads only the metadata of the updates. The actual payload is downloaded during staging or remediation.
In vCenter Server deployments without access to the Internet, instead of synchronizing to online depots, you can configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to download updates from an UMDS-created shared repository. When you configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to use a UMDS repository, synchronization of the updates metadata is not triggered immediately. The metadata is downloaded according to the configured download schedule or when you initiate the download. When the default download source for vSphere Lifecycle Manager is a UMDS repository, only the metadata is stored and displayed in the vSphere Client. The actual payload is downloaded during staging or remediation.
An offline depot, also called an offline bundle, is a format for delivering software. The offline bundle is a ZIP file that you download from the Internet or copy from a media drive and you save them on a local or a shared network drive. You then can import the offline bundle to the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot. You can download offline bundles from the VMware website or from the websites of third-party vendors.
The import of offline bundles is supported only for hosts that are running ESXi 6.5 and later. For information about importing offline bundles to the vSphere Lifecycle Manager local depot, see Import Updates to the vSphere Lifecycle Manager Depot.
In vSphere 7.0, OEMs provide a new type of a ZIP file - Add-on.zip, which you can also import to the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot and use with vSphere Lifecycle Manager images. For more information about OEM add-ons, see ESXi Base Images and Vendor Add-Ons.
In ROBO scenarios, you can configure vSphere Lifecycle Manager to use a local depot with updates for a particular cluster instead of the depots that all clusters in that vCenter Server instance use by default.
For more information, see Manage Depot Overrides for a Cluster.