Installing ESXi Using vSphere Auto Deploy
Jan 26, 2014

Installing ESXi Using vSphere Auto Deploy

As a VCI, whether in my VMware classes, or when working with a client, I am often asked about the standard technology items, such as networking and storage, as well as the “esoteric” technology items such as Virtual SAN, NSX, and Auto Deploy. I thought it would be worthwhile to spend some time with you examining Auto Deploy, and along the way, answer many of the questions that I am often asked about how the technology works, and the best way to set up and use Auto Deploy in the datacenter.

To that end, the discussions below will help you walk through the key steps, and will provide support for each step with the appropriate pointers to on-line help if needed.

I have also created a detailed step by step how to deployment guide that will walk you through each of the steps required to setup and use Auto Deploy as a functional solution for managing and deploying ESXi hosts into your production environment. You can either take a look at the additional posts on how to do this by section, as listed below, or you can download the full guide as a Microsoft Word document Setting Up and Deploying VMware vSphere Auto Deploy in the Enterprise.

Section 1: State information for ESXi hosts

Section 2: Auto Deploy architecture

Section 3: Rules and Rule Sets

Section 4: Auto Deploy Boot Process

Section 5: Preparing for vSphere Auto Deploy

Section 6: Provisioning ESXi Systems with vSphere Auto Deploy

Section 7: Using Auto Deploy for Stateless Caching and Stateful Installs

Section 8: Reregister Auto Deploy

Section 9: Using Auto Deploy with the VMware vCenter Server Appliance


Auto Deploy Overview

vSphere Auto Deploy can provision hundreds of physical hosts with ESXi software. You can specify the image to deploy and the hosts to provision with the image. Optionally, you can specify host profiles to apply to the hosts, and a vCenter Server folder or cluster for each host.

When a physical host set up for Auto Deploy is turned on, Auto Deploy uses a PXE boot infrastructure in conjunction with vSphere host profiles to provision and customize that host. No state is stored on the host itself. Instead, the Auto Deploy server manages state information for each host.

Auto Deploy stores the information for the ESXi hosts to be provisioned in different locations. Information about the location of image profiles and host profiles is initially specified in the rules that map machines to image profiles and host profiles. When a host boots for the first time, the vCenter Server system creates a corresponding host object and stores the information in the database.

Here is an overview of installing and configuring vSphere Auto Deploy:

  1. Prepare for vSphere Auto Deploy, which includes:
    • Ensuring that you meet all prerequisites. For more information, see Prepare       Your System and Install the Auto Deploy Server in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
    • Installing the vSphere Auto Deploy server as part of a vCenter Server installation or standalone on a Windows system, or deploying the vCenter Server Appliance to an ESXi system of your choice. For more information, see Prepare Your System and Install the Auto Deploy Server in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
    • Installing PowerCLI and other required software. For more information, see Install PowerCLI and Prerequisite Software in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
    • Getting familiar with Auto Deploy cmdlets. For more information, Using Auto Deploy Cmdlets in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
    • Setting up bulk licensing. For more information, see Set up Bulk Licensing in the vSphere Installation and Setup Guide.
  2. Manage AutoDeploy with PowerCLI Cmdlets, which includes:
  3. Provision ESXi Systems with vSphere Auto Deploy, which includes:

Note: vSphere 5.1 introduces these new features for Auto Deploy:

  • Auto Deploy Stateless Caching – This feature allows you to cache the host’s image locally on the host or on a usb drive and continue to provision the host with Auto Deploy.
  • Auto Deploy Stateful Installs – This feature allows you to install hosts over the      network without setting up a complete PXE boot infrastructure. After the initial network boot, these hosts boot like other hosts on which ESXi is installed.For more information about Auto Deploy Stateless Caching and Stateful Installs, see Understanding vSphere Auto Deploy Stateless Caching and Stateful Installs (2032881).


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