Auto Deploy Deep Dive, Part 4: Troubleshooting

Part 4 of the Auto Deploy Deep Dive Series details some of the issues I encountered along the way and how to troubleshoot them.



In a VLAN’ed environment (most production, and some home labs), the native VLAN and the destination VLAN for your host may be separate. You can of course boot the host on a port with no VLANs, the move/reconfigure the port to have the correct VLANs, but I would suggest entering the PXE manager at boot and setting the proper VLAN to eliminate possible failure points. If not, you may run into this situation…

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Auto Deploy Deep Dive, Part 3: PowerCLI, Image Builder, and PXE Boot

Auto Deploy Deep Dive Series, Part Three focuses on PowerCLI and Image Builder, puts the wrap on DHCP, and brings the first auto-deployed VMhost to life!

PowerCLI and Image Builder

We are going to use some PowerCLI next. You can find plenty of PowerCLI primers elsewhere (I suggest Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens sites for the novice. I’ve also done a few articles on Power CLI…), so I’m going to assume some familiarity with it. Connect to your vCenter server with “Connect-VIServer <hostname>” and provide your credentials. The rule we are about to create relies on a host profile and a cluster name , so first we grab that information:

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Auto Deploy Deep Dive, Part 2: Host Profiles

In part 2 of the Auto Deploy Deep Dive Series, I will show you how to build a host profile in preparation for the deployment. Launch the vSphere Web Client and we can get started.

Host Profiles

Host Profiles are a very powerful, complicated, and finicky tool that vCenter offers. These profiles are useful for compliance checking of your hosts, to ensure settings are consistent across a cluster, and in our case, Auto Deploy. We’re only going to use a small part of the host profile’s capability, which is to allow stateful installs on the new hosts, and ignore the rest – a tale for another time.

You cannot simply create a blank host profile, but you can use an existing host to create a populated profile. This can be done a number of ways, the easiest of which is to extract a host profile from an existing host. If you don’t already have an existing host in your vCenter, you’re going to need one to continue. You can extract the profile by going to the Hosts and Clusters page and selecting the highlighted option:

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Auto Deploy Deep Dive, Part 1: Auto Deploy, TFTP, DHCP

Over Christmas, I expanded my home lab with another ESXi host. It seemed like the perfect time to set up Auto Deploy so my new host could be brought online with a minimum of effort. The process requires some assembly and I ran into a few minor issues along the way, so I thought I would detail those issues for others. The process is also quite lengthy, and this will be a multi-part series. Stay tuned, and check back at Auto Deploy Deep Dive Series for the rest of the articles. Credit goes to Vladan Seget’s Auto Deploy post and VMware’s own documentation for getting me started.

Auto Deploy requires multiple components – Image Builder, PowerCLI, Host Profiles, TFTP, DHCP, and vSphere Enterprise Plus licensing for your vCenter server. You have your choice of the TFTP and DHCP providers, the rest are provided by vCenter and VMware.  For TFTP, I used SolarWinds’s TFTP server (you do not have to provide a valid email address to access the download) for Windows and ISC tftp for CentOS. I had an existing CentOS server running ISC DHCP; Windows DHCP server on Server 2003+ is fine but I skipped over it because it’s familiar to most and easy to pick up by the rest.

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