To use vSphere Lifecycle Manager effectively, you must understand the basic concepts related to the way software is created, packaged, and distributed.

A software update provides software fixes and enhancements. An update release is a release that makes small changes to the current version of the software. Update releases are marked in the following manner: 7.0 U1, 7.0 U2, and so on.

A software upgrade introduces major changes to the software. Upgrade releases change the major version of the software product. For example, the transitions from vSphere 6.0 to vSphere 6.7 or vSphere 7.0 are both upgrades.

A patch is a small software update that provides bug fixes or enhancements to the current version of the software. patch releases are marked by adding a letter to the version: 7.0a, 7.0 U1a, and so on.

Both patching and upgrade are types of software update operations.