An image that you define with vSphere Lifecycle Manager has four composing elements. When you set up and edit an image for a cluster, you select and combine those elements in such a way as to define a precise desired image that is applicable to all hosts in the cluster.
An image might consist of four elements: an ESXi version, a vendor add-on, a firmware and drivers add-on, and additional components. Spcifying an ESXi version is mandatory. Adding the other elements to an image is optional.
- ESXi Base Image
- The base image is an ESXi release version that contains an image of VMware ESXi Server and additional components such as drivers and adapters that are necessary to bring up a server.
- Vendor Add-On
- A vendor add-on is a collection of software components for the ESXi hosts that OEMs create and distribute. This vendor add-on can contain drivers, patches, and solutions.
- Firmware and Drivers Add-On
- The firmware and drivers add-on is a special type of vendor add-on designed to assist in the firmware update process. The firmware and drivers add-on contains firmware for a specific server type and corresponding drivers. To add a firmware and drivers add-on to your image, you must install the hardware support manager plug-in provided by the hardware vendor for the hosts in the respective cluster.
- A component is the smallest discrete unit in an image. VMware and OEMs do not publish components. VMware packages components into base images. OEMs package components into vendor add-ons. However, third-party software vendors can create and publish components, for example drivers or adapters, independently. You can add such independent components to your image.
- When you create a new cluster, you set up a single image to manage all hosts in the cluster collectively.
In that case, you only select an ESXi base image and, optionally, a vendor add-on. You can add more elements to your image afterwards by editing the image.
- When you switch to using a single image for a cluster that already uses baselines.
In that case, during image set-up, you can immediately select and include any of the four elements in the image.