How to Avoid a Custom ESXi Image Patch Cycle

By Chris Weber, Staff Technical Account Manager (TAM).

Most customers use custom ESXi images to install new servers or upgrade to the next major release, and then our tools to install updates. When you add ESXi hosts you need to install from an image (or a disk created from an image.) Problem:  if you install from an image older than a current patch, then after you finish the install process you still need to patch the host.  Each step requires that you reboot the host.  Each time you restart the physical hardware, it takes a while. That makes it difficult to automate.

Adding a VIB (vSphere Installation Bundle) to a custom image is fairly straightforward, but adding patches means more than one release of multiple packages, and could lead you down a confusing path sorting out what VIBs to remove.

Simple steps for avoiding a post-deployment patch cycle

In this Image Builder Patching doc, we provide how-to steps for including updates to avoid a post-deployment patch cycle.

This is particularly useful for customers who are continually going through maintenance cycles, where once every month part of the environment needs a new custom image. Do the math:  if you reinstall every host once a year because of hardware lifecycle, firmware updates or VMware version upgrades, that’s 1,500 hosts at a pace of 125 a month.  Even if rolling patches into the custom image you already use saves one reboot, that is potentially 42 hours per month that you don’t want to spend patching. Even if you have a smaller environment with 100 hosts and build a custom image twice a year, updating a handful a month, adding the most recent updates to the image still takes time.

Understanding what’s going on under the hood makes this task straightforward.

Review Image Builder Patching for time-saving instructions.


About the author:

Chris Weber is a Staff Technical Account Manager and Team Lead at VMware. He’s been at VMware TAM for over 5 years and holds a Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance. Chris has the pleasure of working every day with Cleveland area businesses, solving problems and enjoying all of the weather Northern Ohio has to share.


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