vSphere 5 Video Series – VMware vSphere 5.0 Auto Deploy

Happy Holidays! This video is a continuation of my vSphere 5 Video Series, in this video I cover how to properly leverage VMware vSphere 5.0 Auto Deploy to automatically deploy ESXi hosts in your infrastructure. Auto Deploy is a new feature found in the Enterprise Plus edition of vSphere 5, it allows administrators to deploy stateless images that are deployed via gPXE directly to the RAM of the host. That’s right, ESXi hosts do not require a local HDD/USB/SDCARD to operate as they can simply download their image and configuration (via Host Profile) into RAM and automatically be placed in their correct vCenter Server datacenter/cluster or folder.


As shown above, PowerCLI is used to create an ESXi Image Profile, this image includes the base ESXi installation as well as any additional drivers, third-party integration or plug-in that you would like to include. That Image Profile is then attached to a Deployment Rule that is also created within PowerCLI. The deployment rule dictates what Image Profile is to be used, what host(s) are tied to the deployment rule and some other configuration specifics such as, which Host Profile to attach after the host has been added to vCenter as well as which vCenter DC/Cluster/Folder to add the host to. For example, you can leverage the same Image Profile but have different Deployment Rules based on DRS Cluster.

For those of you that would like to know a little more about how Auto Deploy functions under the covers, there are basically five core components when it comes to Auto Deploy. There is the actual Auto Deploy server (1) which is essentially a web server that pushes an ESXi Image Profile to the server, this is driven by the Rules Engine (2) which is accessed/configured via PowerCLI along with the Image Builder. There is a requirement for a TFTP Server (3) which will store the gPXE bootloader (4) and push it to potential ESXi hosts that are led to it by a DHCP Server (5). Once gPXE is booted it is notified to grab the ESXi Image and Configuration from the Auto Deploy server.

In the video I cover everything that is needed for Auto Deploy to work, including to installation of vCenter Server and the associated Auto Deploy service as well as PowerCLI and creation of the Image Profile and Deployment Rule. By the end of the video you should have a firm understanding of how to leverage Auto Deploy in your environment to its full potential. I even include steps on how to slipstream third party vendor packages into your ESXi Image Profile, including; EMC PowerPath/VE, the VMware vCloud Director agent and the VMware Fault Domain Manager agent (vmware-fdm) which is required for VMware HA to properly function.

For reference, the EMC PowerPath/VE 5.7 vibs can be downloaded from EMC Powerlink, the VMware vCloud Director agent can be copied from your vCloud Director server from the /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/agent folder and the vmware-fdm agent can be grabbed directly from the vCenter Server by adding http://<vcenter-server>/vSphere-HA-depot as an esxsoftwaredepot in PowerCLI.

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Created on December 27, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under vCenter, vSphere.

This blog has 4,652 views and 5 responses.

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vSphere 5 Video Series – Install vCenter 5.0 in Around 5 Minutes

In this video we’re going to cover the installation, configuration and usage of the VMware vCenter 5.0 Server Appliance (vCSA). The vCSA is a brand new production ready Virtual Appliance that allows you to stand up vCenter Server in literally a few minutes. Once you watch the video you’re going to be like, “Hey Rick, that was more than 5 minutes!”.  For that I do apologize, but when you do watch it you will realize we’re doing a lot more than just installing vCenter 5.0.

First a little disclaimer. vCSA is not for everyone, but in my opinion it should definitely be looked at and should be leveraged wherever it can. vCSA is obviously the direction of where the vCenter Server product is going and hopefully relatively soon it should be at par with its Windows based big brother.

So, why isn’t it for everyone?

As of right now it does not have support for integration with VMware Update Manager (VUM), VMware vCenter Linked-Mode, VMware vSphere Storage Appliance (vSA), VMware vCenter Heartbeat and VMware View Composer. Another concern you may have is that it’s embedded database option (based on DB2) is limited to 5 Hosts and 50 Virtual Machines. Think of the embedded option to be similar to the SQL Express Option in vCenter Server for Windows, great for POC, Demo, Test and extremely small SMB situations, but not practical for production. The final nail in the coffin might be that it only supports Oracle to offer external DB functionality.

Some of those constraints are not going to be avoidable, for example if you require more than 1,000 hosts or 10,000 powered on virtual machines you’re obviously going to need Linked-Mode and the Windows based vCenter Server. If you’re looking to deploy a VDI solution based on VMware View, you’re going to need the Windows based vCenter Server as well. But, if you’re like the majority of VMware vSphere customers, have less than 1,000 hosts, are confident in VMware DRS and HA to protect your vCSA and are OK with the fact that you need Oracle for the external database (which you can virtualize as well)….the vCSA might be for you!

One last thing I wanted to comment on was VMware Update Manager, in my opinion the lack of VUM support for the vCSA might not be that big of an issue, and here’s why; With the introduction of vSphere 5.0, VMware also introduced a few new features, Auto Deploy and Image Builder. These features tied together with Host Profiles truly enable the concept of stateless ESXi. My thought is, if you need to update your ESXi host, simply update the Auto Deploy rule and reboot the machine. Upon the next boot it will automatically be updated and configured properly.  Obviously VUM does a lot more than just ESXi patching, but again, for the majority of vSphere customers they’d be just fine with Auto Deploy.

So have a view of this video to see just how easy it is. I have sped up some portions of the video, specifically the loading of the vSphere Client as well as the deployment of the vCSA OVF template. Also, I suggest watching the video in full-screen mode by clicking the icon on the bottom right of the video. If for whatever reason the video isn’t displaying, you can also use the following link to view; http://youtu.be/o2f1b1vYSis


Created on October 13, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under vCenter, vSphere.

This blog has 2,643 views and one response.

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vSphere 5 Video Series – Installing ESXi 5.0 in Under 5 Minutes

This is going to be the first of many in my vSphere 5 Video Series where I’ll cover the basics to getting vSphere 5.0 installed, configured and operating. In this video see just how easy it is to do a bare-metal installation of ESXi 5.0. Out of all of the install and upgrade options available for vSphere 5.0 this by far is the easiest and cleanest method in my opinion.

Upgrading can be extremely easy as well, by leveraging VMware Update Manager (VUM) it allows existing configurations to be migrated and will even allow you to migrate from ESX to ESXi. One thing to keep in mind when doing a migration with VUM from vSphere 4 to vSphere 5 is that if you are using the ESX edition of vSphere 4 and have custom scripts, agents or modules loaded into ESX those will not be migrated into ESXi 5.0.

Whatever your situation might be, my recommendation has always been to do a fresh installation of ESXi then leverage Host Profiles to push the configuration to the host. Even if you’re not an Enterprise Plus customer you can still get all of the benefits, like Host Profiles, free for 60 days by simply not licensing the product. Remember, you must license before the 60 days are up to avoid any service disruption.

Another great feature of vSphere 5 is Image Builder and Auto Deploy, I’ll cover Auto Deploy into more detail later, but with Image Builder you can build custom ESXi builds that include third party drivers and other custom data. Don’t worry though, you can still do custom installations with kickstart if you’d like, but after you see Auto Deploy you’re not going to want to.

So have a view of this video to see just how easy it is. I have sped up some portions of the video, specifically the blade server booting, the hardware discovery process and actually installation portion. Also, I suggest watching the video in full-screen mode by clicking the icon on the bottom right of the video. If for whatever reason the video isn’t displaying, you can use the following link to view; http://youtu.be/aN9mc9YNiC0


Created on October 10, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under vSphere.

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vmware 2011 Mega Launch

It is 9am Pacific Time on Tuesday, July 12th 2011 and I sure hope you’re tuned into the vmware Mega Launch so greatly titled “Raising the Bar, Part V”. If you’re not watching the live broadcast, stop right here and tune into it by clicking this link, then come back and read this post.

Spoiler alert… reading beyond this point talks about amazing updates and new features from vmware!

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Created on July 12, 2011 by Rick Scherer

Posted under Cloud, Security, SRM, Storage, vCenter, VMware HA, vSphere.

This blog has 5,044 views and 2 responses.

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