It’s 2016, are you still installing VMware ESXi by mounting ISO images in a browser-based console? That’s probably fine for one-off efforts, and it sure beats making a trip to the datacenter with physical CDs, but network deployments are the way of the future.
If you have not yet made the move to PXE deployments, then a new guide from VMware may be the catalyst needed to get your environment moving towards greater operational maturity:
Today, there are a number of large-scale VMware deployments leveraging Auto Deploy to centrally install, patch, and upgrade ESXi hosts that do not utilize local disks. For environments not quite ready to dive into this world of highly automated, stateless deployments, then network installs via PXE – either interactive or scripted – are a good starting point. Getting familiar with the required infrastructure, such as DHCP, TFTP, and properly configured DNS today can pave the way for future automation with Auto Deploy technology.
This new technical paper from VMware is a very thorough guide on PXE installation of ESXi 6, including differences between the two major hardware architectures: legacy BIOS and UEFI. Also note that UEFI even supports IPv6 – if you’re into that kind of thing. In addition to that, advice is offered on how to control, on a per-host basis, which configuration files are booted, which can enable a gradual transition. Details, such as the following boot sequence diagram, contribute to a better understanding in the event troubleshooting is needed.
So take a look and consider how your environment may benefit by reducing manual tasks required for ESXi host deployment. Speaking of reducing manual tasks – this small script that can automatically prepare the contents of an ISO image for PXE use may also be of interest.