In vSphere 7.0, 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 did not set up an image for the cluster during the cluster creation, you can at any time switch from using baselines to switching images for the 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.

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 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.
Before you switch to using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, learn what the new functionality lets you do and what the differences between using baselines and using images are.
Using Baselines Using Images
Validation Not supported.

You do not validate a baseline before applying the updates to the hosts. You can only perform a remediation pre-check.

Supported.

You can validate a vSphere Lifecycle Manager image to check if it is applicable to all hosts in the cluster. You can also perform a remediation pre-check.

Compliance checks With baselines, you can check the compliance of an object against a single or against multiple baselines. With vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, you can check the compliance of the hosts against a single image. To check the compliance against another image, you must first set up the new image.
Staging

You can stage updates to the hosts before actually installing them.

Not supported.
Remediation With vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines, you can remediate an object against a single baseline or against multiple baselines. So, with a single operation, you can patch and upgrade a host. With vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, you can add, remove, or modify the components in the image that you use for a cluster. When you remediate the hosts against the new image, all modified components are applied to the host. So, you can upgrade and patch a host with a single remediation operation.
Firmware updates Not supported. With vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, firmware updates are carried out through firmware and drivers add-ons, which you add to the image that you use to manage a cluster. Updating firmware with images requires an OEM-provided hardware support manager plug-in, which integrates with vSphere Lifecycle Manager.
Hardware compatibility checks Not supported.

You can check the hardware compatibility of the hosts in a cluster against the VMware Compatibility Guide (VCG).

You can also check the compatibility of all hosts in a vSAN-enabled cluster against the vSAN Hardware Compatibility List (vSAN HCL).

Software recommendations Not supported. Supported.

Based on the hardware of the hosts in the cluster, you get recommendations about available and applicable ESXi updates or upgrades.

vCenter Server /Datacenter-level operations With vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines, you can trigger any of the main operations at the vCenter Server or data center level. With vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, you cannot operate at a vSphere Lifecycle Manager or data center level.
Virtual machine management You can upgrade the VMware Tools and virtual hardware versions of the virtual machines in a cluster that you manage with vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines. You can upgrade the VMware Tools and virtual hardware versions of the virtual machines in a cluster that you manage with vSphere Lifecycle Manager images.
Update Manager Download Service (UMDS) Supported. Supported.