Getting started with Auto Deploy requires that you learn how Auto Deploy works, install the Auto Deploy server, install vSphere PowerCLI, write vSphere PowerCLI rules that provision hosts, and power on your hosts to be booted with the image profile you specify. You can customize of the image profile, host profile, and vCenter Server location.

See Auto Deploy Proof of Concept Setup for a step-by-step exercise that helps you set up your first Auto Deploy environment on a Windows Server 2008 system.

To provision the hosts in your environment with Auto Deploy successfully, you can follow these steps.

  1. Install vCenter Server and the vCenter Server components, or deploy the vCenter Server Appliance.

    The Auto Deploy server is included with the management node.

  2. Install vSphere PowerCLI, which includes Auto Deploy and Image Builder cmdlets.

    See Install vSphere PowerCLI and Prerequisite Software and Using Auto Deploy Cmdlets.

  3. Find the image profile that includes the VIBs that you want to deploy to your hosts.

    • In most cases, you add the depots containing the required software to your vSphere PowerCLI session, and then select an image profile from one of those depots.

    • To create a custom image profile, use Image Builder cmdlets to clone an existing image profile and add the custom VIBs to the clone. Add the custom image profile to the vSphere PowerCLI session.

    You must use Image Builder for customization only if you have to add or remove VIBs. In most cases, you can add the depot where VMware hosts the image profiles to your vSphere PowerCLI session as a URL.

  4. Use the New-DeployRule vSphere PowerCLI cmdlet to write a rule that assigns the image profile to one host, to multiple hosts specified by a pattern, or to all hosts.

    New-DeployRule -Name "testrule" -Item image-profile -AllHosts

    See Assign an Image Profile to Hosts.


    Auto Deploy is optimized for provisioning hosts that have a fixed MAC address to IP address mapping in DHCP (sometimes called DHCP reservations). If you want to use static IP addresses, you must set up the host profile to prompt for host customization. See Set Up Host Profiles for Static IP Addresses in the vSphere Web Client.

  5. Power on the host to have Auto Deploy provision the host with the specified image profile.

  6. Set up the host you provisioned as a reference host for your host profile.

    You can specify the reference host syslog settings, firewall settings, storage, networking, and so on. See Setting Up an Auto Deploy Reference Host.

  7. Create and export a host profile for the reference host.

    See the Host Profiles documentation.

  8. To provision multiple hosts, you can use the Copy-DeployRule cmdlet.

    You can revise the rule to assign not only an image profile but also a host profile and a cluster location.

    Copy-DeployRule -DeployRule "testrule" -ReplaceItem my_host_profile_from_reference_host,my_target_cluster
                   -ReplacePattern  "ipv4=192.XXX.1.10-192.XXX.1.20"

    Where my_host_profile_from_reference_host is the name of the reference host profile, and my_target_cluster is the name of the target cluster.

  9. Power on the hosts that you want to provision.

    If the hosts that are specified by the pattern are not currently managed by a vCenter Server system, Auto Deploy provisions them with the already stored image profile and the specified host profile, and adds them to the target cluster.

  10. Verify that the hosts you provisioned meet the following requirements.

    • Each host is connected to the vCenter Server system.

    • The hosts are not in maintenance mode.

    • The hosts have no compliance failures.

    • Each host with a host profile that requires user input has up-to-date host customization information.

    Remedy host customization and compliance problems and reboot hosts until all hosts meet the requirements.

Read Understanding vSphere Auto Deploy for an introduction to the boot process, differences between first and subsequent boots, and an overview of using host customization.