To convert your diskless ESXi hosts to a cluster managed by an image, you must first convert these hosts to stateful hosts by adding physical storage and installing an ESXi 7.0 image.

For information on stateless caching and stateful installs, see Using vSphere Auto Deploy for Stateless Caching and Stateful Installs.


  • Prepare your system and install the Auto Deploy Server. For more information, see Prepare Your System for vSphere Auto Deploy in the VMware ESXi Installation and Setup documentation.
  • The ESXi host is booting from an Auto Deploy rule that contains an Image Profile.
  • The Auto Deploy service is running.
  • You have a USB stick or other supported storage.


  1. From the home menu, click Policies and Profiles, and select Host Profiles.
  2. Extract a host profile from a running ESXi host or duplicate an existing host profile with a specified configuration and a host location.
    The existing host profile can be attached either to a host or to a cluster.
  3. Right-click the new host profile, select Edit Host Profile, and browse to Advanced Configuration Settings > System Image Cache Configuration > System Image Cache Configuration.
  4. Select Enable stateful installs to a USB disk on the host from the drop-down menu.
    If other supported storage is used, select the Enable stateful installs on the host from the drop-down menu, enter arguments for the first disk, and select the check boxes if needed.
  5. If you duplicated an existing host profile and the host profile was attached to a cluster, attach the new host profile to the cluster.
  6. From the home menu, click Auto Deploy.
  7. Deactivate the Auto Deploy rule that contains an Image Profile, and click Edit.
    The Edit Deploy Rule dialog box appears.
  8. On the Select image profile page of the wizard, select an ESXi 7.0 image profile.
  9. On the Select host profile page of the wizard, select the new host profile.
  10. Activate the rule and move the rule to the rule's initial position in the ordered list.
  11. On the Deployed Hosts tab, select a single or multiple ESXi hosts.
  12. Click Remediate Host Associations for the ESXi host.
    You can monitor the progress of the remediation process in the Recent Tasks pane.
  13. Shut down the remediated ESXi hosts.
  14. After the ESXi hosts are powered off, install the USB sticks or other supported storage as local boot disks.
    The USB sticks or other supported storage must be empty.
  15. Power on each ESXi host, enter the BIOS/UEFI setup, and change the boot order to boot first from the newly added storage and then from the network.
    Since the newly added storage is empty, each ESXi host boots from the network and installs the ESXi 7.0 image that you specified earlier on the storage. After the installation, each ESXi host reboots and boots from the newly added storage.


The ESXi hosts boot by default from the new storage and operate as if the ESXi 7.0 image is installed from a standard DVD.

What to do next

Add the ESXi hosts to a cluster that you manage by a single image. For more information, see Add a Host from the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation.