Starting with vSphere 7.0, in addition to using baselines, you can also use images to manage the hosts and clusters in your vSphere inventory. The introducion of images affects the way you manage and work with vSAN clusters.

In earlier vSphere releases, you could update and upgrade the hosts in a vSAN cluster by using system-managed baselines grouped in an automatically generated recommendation baseline group. By using recommendation baseline groups, you could also perform firmware and driver updates on the hosts in the cluster.

In vSphere 7.0, you can manage vSAN clusters with vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines or vSphere Lifecycle Manager images.

What's New in vSphere 7.0

When you manage a vSAN cluster with vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines and baseline groups:
  • You can still use baselines and baseline group to manage vSAN clusters.

    System-managed baseline groups are now called recommendation baseline groups. Recommendation baseline groups no longer contain firmware and driver updates, but only a patch baseline. For more information about using baselines to manage hosts and clusters, see Using Baselines and Baseline Groups.

  • You cannot perform firmware updates by using a vendor-specific firmware tool and remediating a cluster against the recommendation baselines that vSAN generates.

    To update the firmware of a vSAN cluster, you must switch to using a single image instead of baselines for that cluster. You must set up or import an image that contains a firmware add-on and remediate the cluster against that image.

    If an existing cluster contains ESXi hosts of versions earlier than 7.0, you must use an upgrade baseline to upgrade the hosts before you can switch to using images for the cluster.

    For more information about performing firmware updates by using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, see Firmware Updates.

When you manage a vSAN cluster with a single image:

  • The image can define the full software stack to run on the hosts in the cluster: ESXi version, vendor customization, drivers, and firmware.

    You set up an image for a cluster during cluster creation. If you do not set up an image during cluster creation, the cluster uses baselines. You can switch to using images at any time, provided the cluster is eligible for the transition. For more information about using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, see Using Images.

  • You can manually trigger a hardware compatibility check for the cluster.

    The hardware compatibility check task verifies that the image for the cluster can be successfully applied to all hosts and that it is compliant with the vSAN Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). For more information about hardware compatibility checks, see Hardware Compatibility Checks

  • When you perform a compliance check against the image, firmware compliance is also checked. As a result, you can easily notice if a driver or firmware in your cluster becomes non-compliant. For more information about checking the compliance of a cluster against an image, see Checking Compliance Against a Single Image.
  • The recommendations that vSphere Lifecycle Manager generates in the form of pre-validated images include a recommended firmware version for the hosts in your cluster. For more information about vSphere Lifecycle Manager recommended images, see Recommended Images.