You can manage a cluster with either baselines or images. You cannot use both at the same time for a single cluster. Even if you do not set up an image for the cluster during cluster creation, you can at any time switch from using baselines to switching images for that cluster.

To switch to vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, you must set up a new image or import an existing one. Before you proceed with setting up or importing an image, vCenter Server checks and reports if the cluster is eligible for using images. For more information about cluster eligibility, see Cluster Eligibility to Use vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images.

With standalone hosts, you can only use baselines. For more information about the difference between baselines and images, see vSphere Lifecycle Manager Baselines and Images.

System Requirements

To switch to using images, the cluster must meet multiple requirements.
  • All ESXi hosts in the cluster must be of version 7.0 and later.
  • All ESXi hosts in the cluster must be stateful.

    A stateful install is one in which the the host boots from a disk.

  • No host in the cluster can contain any unknown components.

If a host is of version earlier than 7.0, you must first use an upgrade baseline to upgrade the host and then you can successfully switch to using images. For more information about using baselines for host patching and upgrade operations, see Using vSphere Lifecycle Manager Baselines and Baseline Groups.

For more information about converting a stateless host into a stateful host, find information about Auto Deploy in the VMware ESXi Installation and Setup documentation.

Specifics

Several behavioral specifics exist when you switch to using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images.
  • If you switch to using images, you cannot revert to using baselines for the cluster. You can move the hosts to a cluster that uses baselines, but you cannot change a cluster that already uses a single image for management purposes.
  • When you set up and save an image for a cluster, the image is not applied to the hosts in the cluster unless you remediate the hosts. The mere action of changing the management method does not alter the hosts in the cluster.
  • After you set up an image for the cluster and remediate the hosts in the cluster against the image, standalone VIBs are deleted from the hosts.
  • After you set up an image for the cluster and remediate the hosts in the cluster against the image, non-integrated solution agents are deleted from the hosts.
  • If you enable a solution that cannot work with vSphere Lifecycle Manager, for example Dell EMC VxRail, on an empty cluster and attempt to switch to using an image for that cluster, the transition operation succeeds. However, the result is an unsupported cluster configuration, because both vSphere Lifecycle Manager and the non-integrated solution are enabled on the cluster.