Installing ESXi Using vSphere Auto Deploy – Section 4
Jan 26, 2014

Auto Deploy Boot Process – Section 4


When you boot a host that you want to provision or re-provision with vSphere Auto Deploy, the Auto Deploy infrastructure supplies the image profile and, optionally, a host profile and a vCenter Server location for that host.


The boot process is different for hosts that have not yet been provisioned with Auto Deploy (first boot) and for hosts that have been provisioned with Auto Deploy and added to a vCenter Server system (subsequent boot).


First Boot Prerequisites


Before a first boot process, you must set up your system. Setup includes the following tasks:


  • Set up a DHCP server that assigns an IP address to each host upon startup and that points the host to the TFTP server to download the iPXE boot loader from.


  • Ensure that the Auto Deploy server has an IPv4 address. PXE booting is supported only with IPv4.


  • Other components in your Auto Deploy infrastructure can communicate either with IPv4 or with IPv6.


Identify an image profile to be used in one of the following ways:


  • Choose an ESXi image profile in a public depot.


  • (Optional) Create a custom image profile by using the Image Builder PowerCLI, and place the image profile in a depot that the Auto Deploy server can access. The image profile must include a base ESXi VIB.


  • (Optional) If you have a reference host in your environment, export the host profile of the reference host and define a rule that applies the host profile to one or more hosts.


  • Specify rules for the deployment of the host and add the rules to the active rule set.



First Boot Overview


When a host that has not yet been provisioned with vSphere Auto Deploy boots (first boot), the host interacts with several Auto Deploy components.


1. When the administrator turns on a host, the host starts a PXE boot sequence. The DHCP Server assigns an IP address to the host and instructs the host to contact the TFTP server.


2. The host contacts the TFTP server and downloads the iPXE file (executable boot loader) and an iPXE configuration file.


3. iPXE starts executing. The configuration file instructs the host to make a HTTP boot request to the Auto Deploy server. The HTTP request includes hardware and network information.


4. In response, the Auto Deploy server performs these tasks:

  • Queries the rules engine for information about the host.
  • Streams the components specified in the image profile, the optional host profile, and optional vCenter Server location information.


5. The host boots using the image profile. If the Auto Deploy server provided a host profile, the host profile is applied to the host.


6. Auto Deploy adds the host to the vCenter Server system that Auto Deploy is registered with.

  • If a rule specifies a target folder or cluster on the vCenter Server system, the host is placed in that folder or cluster. The target folder must be under a data center.
  • If no rule exists that specifies a vCenter Server inventory location, Auto Deploy adds the host to the first datacenter displayed in the vSphere Client or in the vSphere Web Client UI.


7. (Optional) If the host profile requires the user to specify certain information, such as a static IP address, the host is placed in maintenance mode when the host is added to the vCenter Server system. You must reapply the host profile and answer any questions to have the host exit maintenance mode.


8. If the host is part of a DRS cluster, virtual machines from other hosts might be migrated to the host after the host has successfully been added to the vCenter Server system.


Auto Deploy Installation, First Boot:

Auto Deploy First Boot


Subsequent Boots Without Updates


For hosts that are provisioned with Auto Deploy and managed by a vCenter Server system, subsequent boots can become completely automatic.


1. The administrator reboots the host.


2. As the host boots up, Auto Deploy provisions the host with its image profile and host profile.


3. Virtual machines are brought up or migrated to the host based on the settings of the host.


  • Standalone host. Virtual machines are powered on according to autostart rules defined on the host.
  • DRS cluster host. Virtual machines that were successfully migrated to other hosts stay there. Virtual machines for which no host had enough resources are registered to the rebooted host.


If the vCenter Server system is unavailable, the host contacts the Auto Deploy and is provisioned with an image profile. The host continues to contact the Auto Deploy server until Auto Deploy reconnects to the vCenter Server system.


Auto Deploy cannot set up vSphere distributed switches if vCenter Server is unavailable, and virtual machines are assigned to hosts only if they participate in an HA cluster. Until the host is reconnected to vCenter Server and the host profile is applied, the switch cannot be created. Because the host is in maintenance mode, virtual machines cannot start.


Subsequent Boots With Updates


You can change the image profile, host profile, or vCenter Server location for hosts. The process includes changing rules and testing and repairing the host’s rule compliance.


1. The administrator uses the Copy-DeployRule PowerCLI cmdlet to copy and edit one or more rules and updates the rule set.


2. The administrator runs the Test-DeployRulesetCompliance cmdlet to check whether each host is using the information that the current rule set specifies.


3. The host returns a PowerCLI object that encapsulates compliance information.


4. The administrator runs the Repair-DeployRulesetCompliance cmdlet to update the image profile, host profile, or vCenter Server location the vCenter Server system stores for each host.


5. When the host reboots, it uses the updated image profile, host profile, or vCenter Server location for the host.


If the host profile is set up to request user input, the host is placed in maintenance mode.

Auto Deploy installation subsequent boot process:

Auto Deploy Subsequent Boots





Get-DeployCommand Returns a list of Auto Deploy cmdlets.
New-DeployRule Creates a new rule with the specified items and   patterns.
Set-DeployRule Updates an existing rule with the specified items and patterns. You cannot update a rule that is part of a rule set.
Get-DeployRule Retrieves the rules with the specified names.
Copy-DeployRule Clones and updates an existing rule.
Remove-DeployRule Removes one or more rules from the working rule set and from the active rule set. Run this command with the -Deleteparameter to completely delete the rule.
Set-DeployRuleset Explicitly sets the list of rules in the working rule   set.
Get-DeployRuleset Retrieves the current working rule set or the current active rule set.
Switch-ActiveDeployRuleset Activates a rule set so that any new requests are   evaluated through the rule set.
Get-VMHostMatchingRules Retrieves rules matching a pattern. For example, you can retrieve all rules that apply to a host or hosts. Use this cmdlet primarily for debugging.
Test-DeployRulesetCompliance Checks whether the items associated with a specified host are in compliance with the active rule set.
Repair-DeployRulesetCompliance Given the output of Test-DeployRulesetCompliance, this cmdlet updates the image profile, host profile, and location for each host in the vCenter Server inventory. The cmdlet might apply image profiles, apply host profiles, or move hosts to prespecified folders or clusters on the vCenter Server system.
Apply-EsxImageProfile Associates the specified image profile with the specified host.
Get-VMHostImageProfile Retrieves the image profile in use by a specified host. This cmdlet differs from the Get-EsxImageProfile cmdlet in the Image Builder   PowerCLI.
Repair-DeployImageCache Use this cmdlet only if the Auto Deploy image cache is accidentally deleted.
Get-VMHostAttributes Retrieves the attributes for a host that are used when the Auto Deploy server evaluates the rules.
Get-DeployMachineIdentity Returns a string value that Auto Deploy uses to   logically link an ESXi host in vCenter to a physical machine.
Set-DeployMachineIdentity Logically links a host object in the vCenter Server database to a physical machine. Use this cmdlet to add hosts without specifying rules.
Get-DeployOption Retrieves the Auto Deploy global configuration options. This cmdlet currently supports the vlan-idoption, which specifies the default VLAN ID for the ESXi Management Network of a host provisioned with Auto Deploy. Auto Deploy uses the value only if the host boots without a host profile.
Set-DeployOption Sets the value of a global configuration option.   Currently supports the vlan-idoption for setting the default VLAN ID for the ESXi Management Network.
Remove-DeployRule Removes one or more rules from the working rule set and from the active rule set. Run this command with the -Deleteparameter to completely delete the rule.



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