This has been a topic I have been wanting to write about for quite some time, especially as I get asked about this on fairly regular basis from both partners and customers. I normally point folks over to our official Virtual Appliance (VA) authoring tool, VMware Studio which includes a number of development resources to help get started. Studio is used by many of our partners when creating their VA offerings, although it may not be the easiest thing to get started with, it does provide a complete end-to-end solution.
Most recently, I found myself building out a couple of VAs for my own day to day use, including a custom PhotonOS OVA that allows me to configure a static network address during deployment through the use of custom OVF properties. The official PhotonOS OVA that VMware ships does not provide this option and automatically defaults to DHCP. If you want to setup a static IP Address, you would need to first deploy the VM and then login to the console or SSH (if you have DHCP enabled) and then manually update the networking settings.
For my use case, Studio was going to be overkill and not to mention it may not even support PhotonOS or other modern OSes in general. However, everything that is needed to build your own VA is actually available right in vCenter Server. This was the perfect opportunity and excuse for me to finally document *my* process, in case it can help others wanting to do the same, especially for a home lab setup. In Part 1, I will take you through the two important concepts of building your own VA and then in Part 2 and Part 3, we will take a look at building both a Linux and Windows VA. I will also publish a reference Linux and Windows implementation so that you can use that as a basis to build your own VA, which is not limited to just Linux or Windows, it can be ANY GuestOS that vSphere supports.