vSAN generates system baselines and baseline groups that you can use with vSphere Lifecycle Manager. vSphere Lifecycle Manager in vSphere 7.0 includes the system baselines that Update Manager provided in earlier vSphere releases. It also includes new image management functionality for hosts running ESXi 7.0 and later.

vSAN 6.6.1 and later generates automated build recommendations for vSAN clusters. vSAN combines information in the VMware Compatibility Guide and vSAN Release Catalog with information about the installed ESXi releases. These recommended updates provide the best available release to keep your hardware in a supported state.

System baselines for vSAN 6.7.1 to vSAN 7.0 also can include device driver and firmware updates. These updates support the ESXi software recommended for your cluster.

For vSAN 6.7.3 and later, you can choose to provide build recommendations for the current ESXi release only, or for the latest supported ESXi release. A build recommendation for the current release includes all patches and driver updates for the release.

In vSAN 7.0 and later, vSAN build recommendations include patch updates and applicable driver updates. To update firmware on vSAN 7.0 clusters, you must use an image through vSphere Lifecycle Manager.

vSAN System Baselines

vSAN build recommendations are provided through vSAN system baselines for vSphere Lifecycle Manager. These system baselines are managed by vSAN. They are read-only and cannot be customized.

vSAN generates one baseline group for each vSAN cluster. vSAN system baselines are listed in the Baselines pane of the Baselines and Groups tab. You can continue to create and remediate your own baselines.

vSAN system baselines can include custom ISO images provided by certified vendors. If hosts in your vSAN cluster have OEM-specific custom ISOs, then vSAN recommended system baselines can include custom ISOs from the same vendor. vSphere Lifecycle Manager cannot generate a recommendation for custom ISOs not supported by vSAN. If you are running a customized software image that overrides the vendor name in the host's image profile, vSphere Lifecycle Manager cannot recommend a system baseline.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager automatically scans each vSAN cluster to check compliance against the baseline group. To upgrade your cluster, you must manually remediate the system baseline through vSphere Lifecycle Manager. You can remediate vSAN system baseline on a single host or on the entire cluster.

vSAN Release Catalog

The vSAN release catalog maintains information about available releases, preference order for releases, and critical patches needed for each release. The vSAN release catalog is hosted on the VMware Cloud.

vSAN requires Internet connectivity to access the release catalog. You do not need to be enrolled in the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) for vSAN to access the release catalog.

If you do not have an Internet connection, you can upload the vSAN release catalog directly to the vCenter Server. In the vSphere Client, click Configure > vSAN > Update, and click Upload from file in the Release Catalog section. You can download the latest vSAN release catalog.

vSphere Lifecycle Manager enables you to import storage controller drivers recommended for your vSAN cluster. Some storage controller vendors provide a software management tool that vSAN can use to update controller drivers. If the management tool is not present on ESXi hosts, you can download the tool.

Working with vSAN Build Recommendations

vSphere Lifecycle Manager checks the installed ESXi releases against information in the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) in the VMware Compatibility Guide. It determines the correct upgrade path for each vSAN cluster, based on the current vSAN Release Catalog. vSAN also includes the necessary drivers and patch updates for the recommended release in its system baseline.

vSAN build recommendations ensure that each vSAN cluster remains at the current hardware compatibility status or better. If hardware in the vSAN cluster is not included on the HCL, vSAN can recommend an upgrade to the latest release, since it is no worse than the current state.

Note: vSphere Lifecycle Manager uses the vSAN health service when performing remediation precheck for hosts in a vSAN cluster. vSAN health service is not available on hosts running ESXi 6. 0 Update 1 or earlier. When vSphere Lifecycle Manager upgrades hosts running ESXi 6.0 Update 1 or earlier, the upgrade of the last host in the vSAN cluster might fail. If remediation failed because of vSAN health issues, you can still complete the upgrade. Use the vSAN health service to resolve health issues on the host, then take that host out of maintenance mode to complete the upgrade workflow.

The following examples describe the logic behind vSAN build recommendations.

Example 1
A vSAN cluster is running 6.0 Update 2, and its hardware is included on the 6.0 Update 2 HCL. The HCL lists the hardware as supported up to release 6.0 Update 3, but not supported for 6.5 and later. vSAN recommends an upgrade to 6.0 Update 3, including the necessary critical patches for the release.
Example 2
A vSAN cluster is running 6.0 Update 2, and its hardware is included on the 6.0 Update 2 HCL. The hardware is also supported on the HCL for release 6.7 Update 3. vSAN recommends an upgrade to release 6.7 Update 3.
Example 3
A vSAN cluster is running 6.0 Update 2 and its hardware is not on the HCL for that release. vSAN recommends an upgrade to 6.7 Update 3, even though the hardware is not on the HCL for 6.7 Update 3. vSAN recommends the upgrade because the new state is no worse than the current state.
Example 4
A vSAN cluster is running 6.0 Update 2, and its hardware is included on the 6.0 Update 2 HCL. The hardware is also supported on the HCL for release 6.7 Update 3 and selected baseline preference is patch-only. vSAN recommends an upgrade to 6.0 Update 3, including the necessary critical patches for the release.

The recommendation engine runs periodically (once each day), or when the following events occur.

  • Cluster membership changes. For example, when you add or remove a host.
  • The vSAN management service restarts.
  • A user logs in to My VMware using a web browser or RVC.
  • An update is made to the VMware Compatibility Guide or the vSAN Release Catalog.

The vSAN Build Recommendation health check displays the current build that is recommended for the vSAN cluster. It also can warn you about any issues with the feature.

System Requirements

vSphere Lifecycle Manager is an extension service in vCenter Server 7.0 and later.

vSAN requires Internet access to update release metadata, to check the VMware Compatibility Guide, and to download ISO images from My VMware.

vSAN requires valid credentials to download ISO images for upgrades from My VMware. For hosts running 6.0 Update 1 and earlier, you must use RVC to enter the My VMware credentials. For hosts running later software, you can log in from the ESX Build Recommendation health check.

To enter My VMware credentials from RVC, run the following command: vsan.login_iso_depot -u <username> -p <password>