To use vSphere Lifecycle Manager effectively, you must get acquainted with the basic terminology related to software updates, the way vSphere Lifecycle Manager works, and the operations that you can perform with vSphere Lifecycle Manager.

The presented terminology is grouped according to its relevance:
  • General terminology that is relevant to both vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines and images
  • Terminology that is relevant to vSphere Lifecycle Manager images only
  • Terminology that is relevant to vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines only
Table 1. General Terms
Term Definition
Update In general terms, a software update provides software fixes and enhancements. Both patching and upgrade are types of software update operations.

An update release is a release that makes small changes to the current version of the software. Starting with vSphere 7.0, update releases are marked in the following manner: 7.0 U1, 7.0 U2, and so on.

Upgrade Unlike an update, the 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.

Patch A patch is a small software update that provides bug fixes or enhancements to the current version of the software.

Starting with vSphere 7.0, patch releases are marked by adding a letter to the version: 7.0a, 7.0 U1a, and so on.

VIB VIB stands for vSphere Installation Bundle. A VIB is a software package that contains metadata and a binary payload, which represents the actual piece of software to be installed on ESXi. VIBs are the smallest container for installable payloads.
VIB metadata An XML file (descriptor.xml) that describes the contents of the VIB. It also contains dependency information, textual descriptions, system requirements, and information about bulletins.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager downloads only the metadata during a synchronization of the depot.

Standalone VIB A VIB that is not included in a component.
Depot The hosted version of the updates that VMware, OEMs, and third-party software vendors provide. The depot contains the metadata and the actual VIBs of the updates.
Offline bundle/Offline depot An archive that encapsulates VIBs and the corresponding metadata in a self-contained ZIP file that you use for offline patching and updates. Starting with vSphere 7.0, you can use offline bundles that contain vendor-created add-on to customize an ESXi release (that is, ESXi stock image).

A single offline bundle might contain multiple base images, vendor add-ons, or components.

OEM Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEMs are VMware partners, for example Dell, HPE, VMware Cloud on AWS.
Third-party software providers Providers of I/O filters, device drivers, CIM modules, and so on.
Table 2. vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images
Term Definition
Component A logical grouping of one or more VIBS that encapsulates a functionality. Starting with vSphere 7.0, the component is the smallest unit that is used by vSphere Lifecycle Manager to install VMware and third-party software on ESXi hosts. The component is defined in a similar way as the bulletin, but it contains some additional information.
Add-On A set of components that, typically, OEMs bundle together with an ESXi image to create a custom installable ESXi image. Add-ons provide OEM customization for ESXi. In vSphere 7.0, an ESXi base image plus a vendor add-on is practically identical to the OEM custom image from earlier vSphere releases.
Solution A VMware product that integrates with vCenter Server and adds some new functionality to the ESXi hosts in the inventory.

Some solutions, like HA and vSAN, integrate with vSphere Lifecycle Manager.

Hardware Compatibility Lists Lists of the certified hardware compatible with a selected ESXi or vSAN version.
Hardware support manager A vendor-provided plug-in that you must install to be able to validate and update the firmware of the servers from that vendor. Each OEM provides their own hardware support manager, which you must deploy and register as a vCenter Server extension.
Table 3. vSphere Lifecycle Manager Baselines
Term Definition
Bulletin A grouping of one or more VIBs. Bulletins are defined within the metadata of the VIB. Bulletins are the basic packaging mechanism for delivering software updates in previous vSphere releases. In vSphere 7.0, bulletins coexist with components. You can use bulletins to create vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines, but you cannot use bulletins with vSphere Lifecycle Managerimages.
Patch A bulleting that groups one or more VIBs together to address a particular issue or to provide enhancements.
Roll-up A collection of patches that is grouped to facilitate downloads and deployment.
Extension A bulletin that defines a group of VIBs for adding an optional component to an ESXi host. An extension is usually provided by a third party, which is also responsible for providing patches, or updates, for the extension.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager Operations

The main vSphere Lifecycle Manager operations are related to checking whether the objects in your environment are up to date with a baseline or an image and performing the actual updates of ESXi hosts.

Term Definition Relevant To
Validation A check that ensures that a vSphere Lifecycle Manager image is applicable to all hosts in a cluster. vSphere Lifecycle Manager images
Compliance check Scanning an ESXi hosts to determine its level of compliance against an attached baseline or against a single image used at cluster level.
  • vSphere Lifecycle Manager images
  • vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines
Staging When you stage patches or extensions to an ESXi host, you download patch and extension VIBs to the host without applying them immediately. Staging makes the patches and extensions available locally on the hosts. This action is available only when you use baselines and baseline groups for to manage the lifecycle of the hosts in your environment. vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines
Remediation Applying software updates to an ESXi host. During remediation, you actually install software on the hosts. Whether you use baselines or images, it is only though remediation that you can make a non-compliant host compliant with a baseline or an image.
  • vSphere Lifecycle Manager images
  • vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines