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.

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 host boots from a disk.

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

If a host is of version earlier than ESXi 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 of the Transitioning Workflow

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.

Cluster Eligibility to Use vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images

Switching from baselines to images requires that you set up or import a vSphere Lifecycle Manager image to manage the cluster with. As part of the transition, before you set up the image, vCenter Server triggers an automatic task that checks whether the cluster is eligible to use vSphere Lifecycle Manager images.

The Check cluster's eligibility to be managed with a single image task ensures that the cluster is not undergoing remediation against a baseline and checks whether all requirements for using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images are met.

Also, the task checks for standalone VIBs and ensures that no unintegrated solutions are enabled for the cluster. You might not be able to switch to using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images if unintegrated solutions are enabled on the cluster.
Note: If you use any third-party products or solutions, you must confirm with your third-party software vendor whether the respective solution works with vSphere Lifecycle Manager.

The task returns three types of notifications: error, warning, and info.

Errors

The Check cluster's eligibility to be managed with a single image task reports an error if the cluster contains at least one host that is not stateful or that is not of a compatible ESXi version, that is 7.0 and later.

Also, the Check cluster's eligibility to be managed with a single image returns an error if the cluster contains VIBs of unintegrated solutions. In that case, you must deactivate the unintegrated solution and retry the transition.

Warnings

The Check cluster's eligibility to be managed with a single image task issues a warning if the cluster contains at least one host with a standalone VIB or an unknown VIB. Warnings do not block the transition to using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, but they require special attention or a user action.

For example, you see a warning notification if a host in the cluster contains a standalone VIB, for example a driver, for which a component is available in the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot. If you want to keep the VIB, you must add the respective component to the vSphere Lifecycle Manager image. Otherwise, the standalone VIB is deleted upon remediation.

You also get a warning if a host in the cluster contains an unknown VIB. Unknown VIBs are standalone VIBs for which no component is available in the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot. If vSphere Lifecycle Manager detects an unknown VIB, you must import a component that contains the VIB into the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot and restart the transition. Otherwise, the unknown VIB is deleted upon remediation.

Info

The Check cluster's eligibility to be managed with a single image task gives an info notification if the cluster contains at least one host with a standalone VIB, but you can still proceed to setting up a vSphere Lifecycle Manager image for the cluster without any additional actions.

For example, you see an info notification if the cluster is enabled for an integrated solution, for example vSphere HA or vSAN.

Option 1: Set Up a New Image

You can start using vSphere Lifecycle Manager images for an existing cluster that uses baselines by setting up an image manually.

If you switch to using images, you cannot revert to using baselines for the cluster. You can move the hosts to another cluster, which uses baselines, but you cannot change the cluster that already uses a single image.

For conceptual information about vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, see vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images.

For information about how to use vSphere Lifecycle Manager images to manage hosts and cluster, see Using vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images.

Prerequisites

  • Verify that all ESXi hosts in the cluster are of version 7.0 and later.
  • Verify that all ESXi hosts in the cluster are stateful. A stateful install is one in which the host boots from a disk.
  • Verify that all ESXi hosts in the cluster are from the same hardware vendor.
  • Verify that no unintegrated solution is enabled for the cluster.
  • Verify that you have the proper privileges. See vSphere Lifecycle Manager Privileges For Using Images.

Procedure

  1. In the vSphere Client, navigate to a cluster that you manage with baselines and baseline groups.
  2. On the Updates tab, click Image.
  3. Click the Set up image button.
    vSphere Lifecycle Manager starts checking if the cluster is eligible for using images. If no problems are reported, the Convert to an Image pane appears.
  4. If the Check cluster's eligibility to be managed with a single image tasks reports an error or a warning that requires an action, resolve the issue and restart the procedure.
  5. From the ESXi Version drop-down menu, select an ESXi image.
  6. (Optional) Add a vendor add-on to the image.
    1. Click Select.
      The Select Vendor Addon appears.
    2. Select an add-on from the list.
      An information panel appears on the right. The information panel shows information about the components that the add-on adds to the ESXi image and the components that it removes from the image.
    3. From the Version drop-down menu for the selected add-on, select the add-on version.
    4. Click Select.
  7. (Optional) Add a firmware and drivers add-on to the image.
    1. Click Select.
      The Select Firmware and Drivers Addon appears.
    2. Select a hardware support manager from the respective drop-down menu.
      A list of firmware and drivers add-ons appears.
    3. Select an add-on from the list.
      An information panel appears on the right. The information panel shows information about the supported ESXi versions and whether the add-on contains a driver or not.
    4. From the Version drop-down menu for the selected add-on, select the add-on version.
    5. Click Select.
  8. (Optional) Add additional components to the image.
    1. Click Show details.
    2. Click Add components.
      The Add Components dialog box appears.
    3. (Optional) Use the Show drop-down menu to sift out the components that are not part of the selected vendor add-on.
    4. Select one or multiple components from the list.
      An information panel appears on the right. The information panel shows information about the component that you selected first.
    5. From the Version drop-down menu for the selected component, select the component version.
    6. Click Select.
      The selected components appear in the list of components that the image contains. You can use the Show drop-down menu to sift out the additional components.
    7. (Optional) Click Hide details to hide the list of components.
  9. (Optional) To validate the image, click the Validate button.
    You validate an image to check for missing dependencies and component conflicts.
  10. Click Save.
    Saving the image triggers an automatic compliance check. All hosts in the cluster are checked against the image.
  11. In the Convert to an Image pane, finish the image setup.
    1. Click the Finish image setup button.
    2. In the Finish image setup dialog box, click Yes, finish image setup.

Results

You set up an image for the cluster. You now manage all hosts in the cluster collectively with a single image for the cluster. Upon remediation, the image is installed on all hosts in the cluster.

What to do next

To apply the image to all hosts in the cluster, remediate the cluster against the image.

Option 2: Import an Existing Image

To start managing with a single vSphere Lifecycle Manager image an existing cluster that already uses baselines, you can import an image from another cluster instead of setting up a new image manually.

If you switch to using images, you cannot revert to using baselines for the cluster. You can move the hosts to another cluster, which uses baselines, but you cannot change the cluster that already uses a single image.

For conceptual information about vSphere Lifecycle Manager images, see vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images.

For information about how to use vSphere Lifecycle Manager images to manage hosts and clusters, see Using vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images.

Prerequisites

  • Verify that all ESXi hosts in the cluster are of version 7.0 and later.
  • Verify that all ESXi hosts in the cluster are stateful. A stateful install is one in which the host boots from a disk.
  • Verify that all ESXi hosts in the cluster are from the same hardware vendor.
  • Verify that no unintegrated solution is enabled for the cluster.
  • Verify that you have the proper privileges. See vSphere Lifecycle Manager Privileges For Using Images.

Procedure

  1. In the vSphere Client, navigate to a cluster that you manage with baselines and baseline groups.
  2. On the Updates tab, click Image.
  3. Click the Import Image button.
    The Import Image dialog box appears.
  4. Select a JSON file to import and click Next.
    • Click the Browse button and select a JSON file on your local machine.
    • Enter a valid URL to a JSON file on a remote web server.
    vSphere Lifecycle Manager starts checking if the cluster is eligible for using images. If no problems are reported, the Convert to an Image pane appears. The elements of the imported image appear in the Define Image card.
  5. (Optional) Customize the imported image by changing any of its elements.
  6. (Optional) To validate the image, click the Validate button.
    You validate an image to check for missing dependencies and component conflicts.
  7. Click Save.
    Saving the image triggers an automatic compliance check. All hosts in the cluster are checked against the image.
  8. In the Convert to an Image pane, finish the image setup.
    1. Click the Finish image setup button.
    2. In the Finish image setup dialog box, click Yes, finish image setup.

Results

You now manage all hosts in the cluster collectively with a single image for the cluster. Upon remediation, the image is installed on all hosts in the cluster.

What to do next

To apply the image to all hosts in the cluster, remediate the cluster against the image.