I was introduced to HashiCorp Packer several years back by Timo Tsugliani, who if you are not following on Twitter, you are missing a TON of really useful nuggets which this guys shares both VMware/IT related and cool stuff. I am constantly learning about new things things from Timo and this guys is just a wealth of knowledge if you get the chance to work with him. At the time, I had played with Packer for a bit but did not have an actual use case for it, so I mostly forgot about it.
Fast forward a few years later and with recent projects like the vCenter Event Broker Appliance (VEBA) Fling, I have really spent time learning about Packer in greater depth and I now realize how powerful Packer is for building various artifacts including VMware-based templates that is not only easy but consistently from source control. It took me awhile to get to the aha moment but now I use Packer for so many different things to help simplify my life.
With the recent open sourcing of our VEBA Fling which includes the use of PhotonOS and Packer, I was reminded of a blog series that I did earlier on how to build your own Linux and/or Windows Virtual Appliance using OVF properties (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). I realized it would have been useful to have an actual reference implementation on building a very simple PhotonOS Virtual Appliance that exercises some basic OVF properties so folks could quickly get started beyond the manual steps that were documented. I was also motivated by a chat I had with Luc Dekens (Godfather of PowerCLI) last week on some of the Automation he was trying to with PhotonOS and I figured this might be something he and others could also benefit from.