A VMware content library is a built-in function in VMware vSphere that enables you to publish a native VM template (VMTX file) to subscriber libraries in vCenter. This allows you to sync the content of libraries that are geographically remote from one another.

Organizations that have multiple sites (datacenters) with vCenter servers on each site and that are configured for enhanced linked mode (ELM) can share VM templates across the entire infrastructure.

This has many advantages for an organization and its security. Moreover, it simplifies template management by maintaining a single location where you upload the up-to-date templates as well as templates that are optimized for performance and security.

The main idea with templates was always to have a "ready-to-go" image from which you can create (clone) a new VM with minimal effort. You can deploy VMs where the base OS is up to date with its patches and hardened without applications installed. All corporate VMs can be created with the same baseline level of security.

You can create and deploy a content library for one local vCenter Server instance or publish and share the organization's content across multiple vCenter instances. Once your content library is created, you can upload some templates and then deploy your virtual machines (VMs) from it. The content library also enables you to a secure your content with a password so that only admins knowing the password can actually deploy new VMs from it.

To access content libraries in vSphere, just select Menu > Content libraries.

Access the content library from the main menu

Access the content library from the main menu

Then click one of the local libraries you created on your vCenter. In our case, there is only one, called "local."

Access the content library from the main menu

Access the content library from the main menu

Click Templates to continue. Here, you can view the various kinds of templates you might have (VMTX, OVF). I uploaded one template called "PhotonOS_Template" for testing purposes.

Click the Templates tab

Click the template to view its details. Then select Actions > Publish.

Publish the template

Publish the template

If you do not have any subscriber library, you have to create one before you can publish the templates somewhere. To create a subscriber library, go to Content libraries and click one of the local libraries to display its details. Then select Actions > New Subscription.

Create a new subscription

Create a new subscription

A subscription creates a link between the publisher and subscriber libraries to ensure the content is synchronized between them. A wizard walks you through the process of creating a subscription.

Another option is to create a secondary subscription to an existing subscriber library. This option may be interesting if you have a third datacenter.

Create a new subscription to the new subscriber library

Create a new subscription to the new subscriber library

One configuration option enables you to download the content immediately or only when needed. If you chose "when needed," the template isn't copied to the subscriber library immediately. Subscriber libraries take their content from other published libraries. You can add a meaningful name and description to identify the library later on. I'd suggest using a site description with the name of the building, city, etc.

Create New Subscription wizard

Create New Subscription wizard

On the next screen, specify the folder for the subscriber library. In our case, it is another datacenter we created.

Select the target location for the subscription

Select the target location for the subscription

This screen specifies the compute resource needed for this subscriber library.

Select the destination compute resource for the subscriber library

Select the destination compute resource for the subscriber library

Once we have created the subscriber library, we can come back to the step in which we publish the VM template. Select the template file. Then select Actions > Publish. Now that we have the subscriber library created, so this subscriber library will now appear here.

Publish the template to the subscriber library

Publish the template to the subscriber library

Once done, the system will automatically synchronize the two libraries with the template if you have selected to download content "immediately." However, if you selected the option to download library content only when needed, only the content metadata is downloaded, not the content itself.

The concept of content libraries in VMware vSphere is fairly simple: subscribed libraries are content libraries where the content is connected to that of a published local library. You create a subscribed library to subscribe to a published library. Content cannot be added to a subscribed library. The only option is to synchronize the content of the subscribed library with the content of the published library. A subscribed library can be created on the same vCenter or on the vCenter at the remote site; in the latter case, the content is automatically synchronized with the source published library. You can create as many subscribed libraries as you like.

Content libraries can contain ISO images, text files, certificates, or VMTX files (these are VM templates cloned or transformed from VMs). All these items can be imported into a content library from your local administration workstation or from a web server.

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