vSphere Lifecycle Manager Feature Spotlight: Image Seeding

February 07, 2022

vSphere Lifecycle Manager Image Seeding allows for easy desired image creation based on an existing ESXi host with a known good image state.

Use Case

vSphere Lifecycle Manager Image Seeding is especially useful when creating additional clusters because you can easily import the image definition from an existing ESXi host in the same or a different vCenter Server instance. This helps keep cluster image state uniform across clusters or vCenter Server instances. The reference ESXi host can also be a standalone unmanaged host.

It is also useful in air-gapped environments where external internet access may restrict the ability for vSphere Lifecycle Manager to download image definitions.

During image seeding, vSphere Lifecycle Manager will check if the image elements of the selected host already exist in the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot. If the elements do not already exist, vSphere Lifecycle Manager will extract the elements from the selected host and copy them to the depot. If the elements do already exist, vSphere Lifecycle Manager will not duplicate any pre-existing elements in the depot.

Using Image Seeding

Image seeding during new cluster creation

vSphere Lifecycle Manager image seeding is available in vCenter Server 7 Update 2 and later.

During the new cluster creation wizard, there are three options relevant to vSphere Lifecycle Manager image creation.

Host seeding options

  1. Compose a new image.
    • Manual select the image version from the current available images in the vSphere Lifecycle Manager depot
    • Optionally select a Vendor add-on for the cluster image
    • Cluster desired image can be edited after cluster creation
  2. Import image from an existing host in vCenter inventory
    • Extracts the selected hosts image and assigns it as the new clusters desired image
    • Selected host must be version 7 Update 2 or later
    • Selected host must already exist in the vCenter Server inventory
    • Selected host is not placed into the new cluster
    • Cluster desired image can be edited after cluster creation
  3. Import image from a new host
    • Extracts the selected hosts image and assigns it as the new clusters desired image
    • Can be used to import an image from an ESXi host residing in a different vCenter Server inventory
    • Host FQDN/IP and credentials are required
    • Host must be version 7 Update 2 or later
    • Host can be optionally added to the new cluster
    • Cluster desired image can be edited after cluster creation

Import image from an existing host in vCenter inventory

During new cluster creation, host seeding is used to extract the image from an existing host in the vCenter inventory. This is useful to avoid repetition and ensure uniform image definitions are used across clusters if and when desired. The selected hosts ESXi version, Vendor Addon, and Components are extracted and used as the desired image definition of the new cluster.

If a Firmware and Driver Addon is defined in the source image, this is not copied to the new cluster image. The Firmware and Driver Addon must be added to the new cluster manually, if required.

Cluster solution elements, such as vSphere HA, vSphere with Tanzu or VMware NSX-T Data Center, are not seeded from the target ESXi host. For more on vSphere Lifecycle Manager and solutions see the vSphere documentation about vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images and Other VMware Products and Solutions.

Host Seeding from existing host

Import image from a new host

You can import the image of a new ESXi host during cluster creation. This may be useful, for example, if new hosts have be commission with a specific image definition in a staging environment and are now being adding to a different vCenter environment. You can use the host to define the cluster image definition, and also optionally add the host to the cluster in the same workflow.

Host seeding from new host

Summary

Image seeding allows for easy desired image creation based on existing ESXi hosts with a known good image state. This is useful to avoid repetition and ensure uniform image definitions are used across clusters if and when desired.

References

For more on vSphere Lifecycle Manager image seeding, see the vSphere documentation about Importing an Image from a Host

For more on see the vSphere documentation about vSphere Lifecycle Manager Images and Other VMware Products and Solutions.

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