You can add ESXi hosts to an Active Directory domain by using vSphere Authentication Proxy instead of adding the hosts explicitly to the Active Directory domain.

You only have to set up the host so it knows about the domain name of the Active Directory server and about the IP address of vSphere Authentication Proxy. When vSphere Authentication Proxy is enabled, it automatically adds hosts that are being provisioned with Auto Deploy to the Active Directory domain. You can also use vSphere Authentication Proxy with hosts that are not provisioned by using Auto Deploy.

Auto Deploy

If you are provisioning hosts with Auto Deploy, you can set up a reference host that points to Authentication Proxy. You then set up a rule that applies the reference host's profile to any ESXi host that is provisioned with Auto Deploy. vSphere Authentication Proxy stores the IP addresses of all hosts that Auto Deploy provisions using PXE in its access control list. When the host boots, it contacts vSphere Authentication Proxy, and vSphere Authentication Proxy joins those hosts, which are already in its access control list, to the Active Directory domain.

Even if you use vSphere Authentication Proxy in an environment that uses certificates that are provisioned by VMCA or third-party certificates, the process works seamlessly if you follow the instructions for using custom certificates with Auto Deploy.

See Use Custom Certificates With Auto Deploy.

Other ESXi Hosts

You can set up other hosts to use vSphere Authentication proxy if you want to make it possible for the host to join the domain without using Active Directory credentials. That means you do not need to transmit Active Directory credentials to the host, and you do not save Active Directory credentials in the host profile.

In that case, you add the host's IP address to the vSphere Authentication Proxy access control list, and vSphere Authentication Proxy authorizes the host based on its IP address by default. You can enable client authentication to have vSphere Authentication Proxy check the host's certificate.

Note:

You cannot use vSphere Authentication Proxy in an environment that supports only IPv6.