Before you can PXE boot an ESXi host with vSphere Auto Deploy, you must install prerequisite software and set up the DHCP and TFTP servers that vSphere Auto Deploy interacts with.

About this task

Prerequisites

  • Verify that the hosts that you plan to provision with vSphere Auto Deploy meet the hardware requirements for ESXi. See ESXi Hardware Requirements.

  • Verify that the ESXi hosts have network connectivity to vCenter Server and that all port requirements are met. See Required Ports for vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller.

  • If you want to use VLANs in your vSphere Auto Deploy environment, you must set up the end to end networking properly. When the host is PXE booting, the firmware driver must be set up to tag the frames with proper VLAN IDs. You must do this set up manually by making the correct changes in the UEFI/BIOS interface. You must also correctly configure the ESXi port groups with the correct VLAN IDs. Ask your network administrator how VLAN IDs are used in your environment.

  • Verify that you have enough storage for the vSphere Auto Deploy repository. The vSphere Auto Deploy server uses the repository to store data it needs, including the rules and rule sets you create and the VIBs and image profiles that you specify in your rules.

    Best practice is to allocate 2 GB to have enough room for four image profiles and some extra space. Each image profile requires approximately 350 MB. Determine how much space to reserve for the vSphere Auto Deploy repository by considering how many image profiles you expect to use.

  • Obtain administrative privileges to the DHCP server that manages the network segment you want to boot from. You can use a DHCP server already in your environment, or install a DHCP server. For your vSphere Auto Deploy setup, replace the gpxelinux.0 file name with snponly64.efi.vmw-hardwired for UEFI or undionly.kpxe.vmw-hardwired for BIOS. For more information on DHCP configurations, see Sample DHCP Configurations.

  • Secure your network as you would for any other PXE-based deployment method. vSphere Auto Deploy transfers data over SSL to prevent casual interference and snooping. However, the authenticity of the client or the vSphere Auto Deploy server is not checked during a PXE boot.

  • If you want to manage vSphere Auto Deploy with PowerCLI cmdlets, verify that Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 or 4.5.x and Windows PowerShell 3.0 or 4.0 are installed on a Windows machine. You can install PowerCLI on the Windows system on which vCenter Server is installed or on a different Windows system. See the vSphere PowerCLI User's Guide.

  • Set up a remote Syslog server. See the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation for Syslog server configuration information. Configure the first host you boot to use the remote Syslog server and apply that host's host profile to all other target hosts. Optionally, install and use the vSphere Syslog Collector, a vCenter Server support tool that provides a unified architecture for system logging and enables network logging and combining of logs from multiple hosts.

  • Install ESXi Dump Collector, set up your first host so that all core dumps are directed to ESXi Dump Collector, and apply the host profile from that host to all other hosts. See Configure ESXi Dump Collector with ESXCLI.

  • If the hosts that you plan to provision with vSphere Auto Deploy are with legacy BIOS, verify that the vSphere Auto Deploy server has an IPv4 address. PXE booting with legacy BIOS firmware is possible only over IPv4. PXE booting with UEFI firmware is possible with either IPv4 or IPv6.

Procedure

  1. Install vCenter Server or deploy the vCenter Server Appliance.

    The vSphere Auto Deploy server is included with the management node.

  2. Configure the vSphere Auto Deploy service startup type.
    1. Log in to your vCenter Server system by using the vSphere Web Client.
    2. On the vSphere Web Client Home page, click Administration.
    3. Under System Configuration click Services.
    4. Select Auto Deploy, click the Actions menu, and select Edit Startup Type.
      • On Windows, the vSphere Auto Deploy service is disabled. In the Edit Startup Type window, select Manual or Automatic to enable vSphere Auto Deploy.

      • On the vCenter Server Appliance, the vSphere Auto Deploy service by default is set to Manual. If you want the vSphere Auto Deploy service to start automatically upon OS startup, select Automatic.

  3. (Optional) : If you want to manage vSphere Auto Deploy with the vSphere Web Client, configure the vSphere ESXi Image Builder service startup type.
    1. Repeat Substep 2a through Substep 2c.
    2. Select ImageBuilder Service, click the Actions menu, and select Edit Startup Type.
      • On Windows, the vSphere ESXi Image Builder service is disabled. In the Edit Startup Type window, select Manual or Automatic to enable the service.

      • On the vCenter Server Appliance, the vSphere Auto Deploy service by default is set to Manual. If you want the vSphere ESXi Image Builder service to start automatically upon OS startup, select Automatic.

    3. Log out of the vSphere Web Client and log in again.

      The Auto Deploy icon is visible on the Home page of the vSphere Web Client.

  4. (Optional) : If you want to manage vSphere Auto Deploy with PowerCLI cmdlets, install PowerCLI.
    1. Download the latest version of PowerCLI from the VMware Web site.
    2. Navigate to the folder that contains the PowerCLI file you downloaded and double-click the executable file.

      If the installation wizard detects an earlier version of PowerCLI on your system, it will attempt to upgrade your existing installation

    3. Follow the prompts in the wizard to complete the installation.
  5. Configure the TFTP server.
    1. In a vSphere Web Client connected to the vCenter Server system, go to the inventory list and select the vCenter Server system.
    2. Click the Manage tab, select Settings, and click Auto Deploy.
    3. Click Download TFTP Boot Zip to download the TFTP configuration file and unzip the file to the directory in which your TFTP server stores files.
  6. Set up your DHCP server to point to the TFTP server on which the TFTP ZIP file is located.
    1. Specify the TFTP Server's IP address in DHCP option 66, frequently called next-server.
    2. Specify the boot file name, which is snponly64.efi.vmw-hardwired for UEFI or undionly.kpxe.vmw-hardwired for BIOS in the DHCP option 67, frequently called boot-filename.
  7. Set each host you want to provision with vSphere Auto Deploy to network boot or PXE boot, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  8. (Optional) : If you set up your environment to use Thumbprint mode, you can use your own Certificate Authority (CA) by replacing the OpenSSL certificate rbd-ca.crt and the OpenSSL private key rbd-ca.key with your own certificate and key file.
    • On Windows, the files are in the SSL subfolder of the vSphere Auto Deploy installation directory. For example, on Windows 7 the default is C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware vSphere Auto Deploy\ssl.

    • On the vCenter Server Appliance, the files are in /etc/vmware-rbd/ssl/.

    By default, vCenter Server 6.0 and later uses VMware Certificate Authority (VMCA).

Results

When you start a host that is set up for vSphere Auto Deploy, the host contacts the DHCP server and is directed to the vSphere Auto Deploy server, which provisions the host with the image profile specified in the active rule set.

What to do next

  • Define a rule that assigns an image profile and optional host profile, host location or script bundle to the host. For Managing vSphere Auto Deploy with PowerCLI cmdlets, see theManaging vSphere Auto Deploy with PowerCLI Cmdlets section. For managing vSphere Auto Deploy with the vSphere Web Client, see the Managing vSphere Auto Deploy with the vSphere Web Client section.

  • Configure the first host that you provision as a reference host. Use the storage, networking, and other settings you want for your target hosts to share. Create a host profile for the reference host and write a rule that assigns both the already tested image profile and the host profile to target hosts.

  • If you want to have vSphere Auto Deploy overwrite existing partitions, set up a reference host to do auto partitioning and apply the host profile of the reference host to other hosts. See Configure a Reference Host for Auto-Partitioning.

  • If you have to configure host-specific information, set up the host profile of the reference host to prompt for user input. For more information about host customizations, see the vSphere Host Profiles documentation.