vSphere Content Library was introduced into the VMware suite back in version 6.0. Since then, VMware has made some significant changes and enhancements to this feature. With the latest vSphere 7 version, the Content Library has matured and offers some new ways of working with your VMs, templates, and external files, such as OVF or ISO files.

All these files can be shared within your organization or outside of your organization. The access to content libraries can be password protected. The transfer service on the vCenter Server manages the import and export of content between the subscriber and the publisher libraries. It uses HTTP NFC protocol.

When you enable authentication for the Content Library, you basically set a password on the static username vcsp, which you cannot change. This user account, however, is not associated with vCenter Single Sign-On or Active Directory.

The idea is to have an efficient, centralized method to manage important data required in a vSphere environment. Note that it is possible to edit items only in a local library, no matter whether it is published or not. Library items in subscribed libraries cannot be modified.

The use of subscriptions allows content distribution between a publisher and a subscriber in some scenarios. We can consider the following:

  • The publisher and subscriber are in the same vCenter Server instance.
  • The publisher and subscriber are in vCenter Server instances that are in Enhanced Linked mode.
  • The publisher and subscriber are in vCenter Server instances that are in Hybrid Linked mode.

Create a local or subscription Content Library in vSphere 7 ^

Connect to your vSphere web client and select Home > Shortcuts > Content Libraries. Click Create to start the assistant.

Create a local or subscription Content Library in vSphere 7

Create a local or subscription Content Library in vSphere 7

Give it a meaningful name and click Next. You'll have to choose whether you're creating a local library or a Subscribed content library. This is a library that is created in another datacenter or another vSphere environment. You'll need to know the exact address so you can connect to it.

Create a local Content Library in vSphere 7

Create a local Content Library in vSphere 7

The other option is the Subscribed content library. We'll show you what it looks like here.

It's very important you do not select the "immediately" option because in this case, the system would start to download all the content from the remote library to your environment. And this is probably not what you want.

Download content from a subscribed Content Library when needed

Download content from a subscribed Content Library when needed

Once done, you can execute different actions on different objects. In our example, we can see that we have some OVA templates from which we can create a new VM, or we can clone/export them.

Possible actions on OVA objects in a Subscribed Content Library

Possible actions on OVA objects in a Subscribed Content Library

When you create a local library within your vSphere environment, you basically create a space where you can store different kinds of files and enable certain new functionality that VMware calls Check-in/Check-out.

This functionality is active for VM templates in Content Libraries and can be edited with version control. You can check out a Virtual Machine from the template while you keep the template as is. You can then patch or edit the Virtual Machine. When you are ready, you can check it back in to update the VM template.

What is Check-In/Check-Out? ^

Before vSphere 7, when an administrator needed to perform maintenance on a VM template (vmtx), the process was quite manual and included multiple steps. For example:

  • Convert the VM template back to a VM.
  • Snapshot the VM if rollback is needed.
  • Update the guest OS or other VM object settings.
  • Convert the VM back to a VM template.
  • Copy the VM template back to a Content Library.
  • Delete the old VM template(s) from the Content Library.

Now with the check-in/check-out function, you have versioning. You'll be able to check out the VM from this template for edits and then check in that template VM back to the Content Library to save the changes you made.

Simply select the template. The go to the Versioning tab and click Check out VM from this template.

Check out VM from this template

Check out VM from this template

A new wizard will start. Follow the wizard and specify where you want to create and power on this VM.

Choose host and cluster and optionally also power on

Choose host and cluster and optionally also power on

Once you make at least one change, you'll be able to see the versioning. In our case, we edited the VM's virtual hardware and added some vCPU to test it. Be sure to add some notes so we know what we modified.

The VMTX templates will now be able to see different versions when you change the template. You may want to apply some patches to the VM or change add/remove some of the VM's virtual hardware.

Content Library Roles ^

vCenter Server uses roles to protect certain areas of the infrastructure from unwanted access. When you work with a team of IT administrators, you can delegate certain roles to different team members.

The Content Library Administrator role is a predefined role that gives a user privileges to monitor and manage a library and its contents.

A user who has this role can:

  • Create, edit, and delete local or subscribed libraries
  • Synchronize a subscribed library and synchronize items in a subscribed library
  • View the item types supported by the library
  • Configure the global settings for the library
  • Import items to a library
  • Export library items

Advanced Content Library settings ^

The Advanced settings button next to Create on the Content Library page allows you to set some advanced sync operations, the auto sync refresh interval, or adjust some performance optimization settings.

Let's have a look. The auto sync, when enabled, allows you to automatically sync all items from the subscription library to your own local datacenter.

Advanced configuration of Content Library

Advanced configuration of Content Library

You can find other options by hovering a mouse over the information icon, as we won't be able to explain all settings in this blog post.

What's interesting with subscription libraries is that you can easily share your templates with a sister company and allow those two entities to put a common template together.

When relying on a high-speed fiber internet connection, you don't even need to keep all the templates locally and waste your storage space. Simply deploy a new VM from a subscribed Content Library and this template will be downloaded and transformed into a VM automatically.

Final words ^

Content libraries are a great way of organizing content and keeping your templates, ISO, and OVF files in one central location accessible for your subsidiary companies, remote offices, and so on.

VMware vSphere 7 Content Library, with versioning available and activated, allows large enterprise IT admins to track changes to those templates and return to the version they need.

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vSphere 7 Content Library has evolved and become a very simple feature to use, decreasing the time needed to add and remove content.

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4 Comments
  1. Radhan 2 years ago

    Hi Seget,

    Thank you for this vmware library configuration, I tried different ways to add this library with vsphere, but it keeps giving me the following error 

    HTTP request error: Connect to wp-content.vmware.com:443 [wp-content.vmware.com/23.41.208.27] failed: Connection timed out (Connection timed out).

    I dont use proxy in my local network 

    Any idea ? I am stucked 

  2. Radhan 2 years ago

    I am using Windows 10

    I turned off the windows Firewall, still getting the same error.

    Any idea which firewall to be configured (I am using Cisco FMC to manage my Cisco Firepower 2110)

  3. Craig 1 year ago

    Thanks for a great article – the advanced settings are just what I’m looking for to have some control over our WAN utilisation.

    One question. If the site hosting the publisher is offline/inaccessible is it possible to convert the Subscriber CL so that I can upload new content without waiting for the publisher to come back online? Obviously, we’d have to upload that new content to the original publisher and then reset the subscriber once the whole environment is available. We’re using automation to deploy VMs and would rather not have to pause that while the primary site is unavailable.
    Thanks.

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