VMware Auto Deploy – Stateless ESXi

Over the past few days I've been looking into deployment tools to help me deploy a large amount of ESXi Host's in a short space of time. One of the tools I've been looking at is VMware Auto Deploy

VMware Auto Deploy

VMware Auto Deploy

The auto deploy application which comes as an OVT template is basically just a jumped-up vMA, with the added extra's of DHCP, TFTP, HTTP servers and a deploy-cmd CLi and Database.

Here is a brief overview of how VMware Auto Deploy works once configured:

  • PXE boot the target server
  • ESXi is installed onto the target server from the auto deploy app
  • The ESXi host will then be added into your vCenter
  • The ESXi host will then have a Host Profile applied to it.

This makes life pretty easy.

What I didn't know and it didn't mention on the labs site was that the ESXi install was Stateless. The ESXi install is only held in memory. So if you reboot the server you'd see a "No Operating System Found" message.

Before VMware Auto Deploy, I hadn't ever given Stateless ESXi a second thought. The configuration of a host once ESXi was installed was a lot more detailed than the initial install itself and took time to complete. Now with the use of Host Profiles we are able to Install and Configure an ESXi host within a matter of minutes and 100% automatically. At this rate I'll be doing myself out of a job! However, I also believe it's the way most large deployments will head in the not so distant future. We are beginning to see an increase in the amount of diskless servers/blades coming onto the market, which is ushering us down the route of using Stateless installs. 

I'm not going to go into the in's and out's of the application configuration as it's all available in the VMware Auto Deploy Administrator's Guide. It's very simple

  • Nicolai

    Interresting…..abit “Citrix Provisioning Server”-ish…..the idear looks cool….i just HAVE to try this out.

  • Hi Simon,
    I'm a bit confused here.
    “What I didn't know and it didn't mention on the labs site was that the ESXi install was Stateless. The ESXi install is only held in memory. So if you reboot the server you'd see a “No Operating System Found” message.”
    The install should still be to a local disk (or USB key or SAN LUN). Normally it will run in memory, but syncs configuration changes back to the disk on a regular basis (every 60 seconds I think). This is why, it is possible to some settings if the server reboots shortly after you make a configuration change.
    However if you reboot the server it should still boot up.
    Now when you configure it as stateless, that just means the state (i.e. configuration) isn't stored locally, but applied through Host Profiles (or some other method). It should still have the base OS installed.
    Or am I confused and missing something (wouldn't be the first time ;))
    Cheers, Forbes.

  • Hi Forbes,

    I've extensively tested this out and I can assure you that nothing is written to disk. I've asked questions about this to the developers who verified my foundings. It's real stateless and disappears after a reboot.

    Cheers,

    Kenneth van Ditmarsch

    VMware PSO

  • Mike_wpb

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I didn't see any host profile attached nor is it adding to vCenter as it is advertised. Also, it is building using a name that is used elsewhere in my environment, so not sure (nor can I figure out) where it is getting this name from, since there is no scripting being done.

    Any thoughts or suggestions here??

    M

  • a problem I had was that after the ESXi picks up a DHCP address, it's added to vCenter, then host profiles starts doing it's thing and I have a different IP address I want for my ESXi server. So once the profile starts getting attached, the management interface IP is changed then drops connection from vCenter, and the configuration never completes. just my $.02

    http://kendrickcoleman.com/index.php?/Tech-Blog/using-vmware-autodeploy-for-esxi.html

  • cram

    Take a look at xCAT – This is made for this kind of stuff

  • Matthew Heap

    5 mins and into VC very nice

    Dec 3 11:52:02 buildserver deploy-cli: addhost — {‘profile’: ‘VC-TEST’, ‘assettag’: ‘VHTEST’, ‘status’: ‘NEW’, ‘bootmac’: ’00:50:56:9B:00:16′, ‘last_booted’: None}
    Dec 3 11:52:36 buildserver deploy-cgi[2294]: host boot — (5, ’00:50:56:9B:00:16′, None, ‘VHTEST’, ‘VC-TEST’, None, ‘NEW’, ‘2010-12-03 16:52:02′)
    Dec 3 11:54:45 buildserver deploy-cli: starting escort of host 1 (VHTEST) — host(5, ’00:50:56:9B:00:16’, ‘%VMHOSTIP%’, ‘VHTEST’, ‘VC-TEST’, ‘2010-12-03 16:52:36’, ‘BOOTING’, ‘2010-12-03 16:52:02’), boot-profile(‘VC-TEST’, ‘172.19.10.10’, ”, ‘b.z,k.z,s.z,c.z,oem.tgz,m.z’, ‘no-auto-partition’, ”, ‘/DC1’, ”)
    Dec 3 11:54:45 buildserver deploy-cli: waiting 1 more seconds for hostd to spin up on VHTEST
    Dec 3 11:54:46 buildserver deploy-cli: waiting 2 more seconds for hostd to spin up on VHTEST
    Dec 3 11:54:50 buildserver deploy-cli: waiting 4 more seconds for hostd to spin up on VHTEST
    Dec 3 11:54:55 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to HOSTD_UP
    Dec 3 11:54:55 buildserver deploy-cli: escorting host 1 to vCenter %VCENTERIP%
    Dec 3 11:54:55 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to VC_SETUP
    Dec 3 11:55:42 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to ENTER_MAINT_MODE
    Dec 3 11:55:44 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to IN_MAINT_MODE
    Dec 3 11:55:44 buildserver deploy-cli: adding host 1 to folder /DC1
    Dec 3 11:55:44 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to ADDING_TO_VC
    Dec 3 11:56:58 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to ADDED_TO_VC
    Dec 3 11:57:02 buildserver deploy-cli: no host profiles found for host 1
    Dec 3 11:57:03 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to REREGISTERING_VMS
    Dec 3 11:57:05 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to REREGISTERED_VMS
    Dec 3 11:57:06 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to EXIT_MAINT_MODE
    Dec 3 11:57:11 buildserver deploy-cli: changing status of host 1 (VHTEST) to UP

  • Great article.

  • sony vadakel

    its so complex…. to manage it. for any reason if your autodeploy server crashes entire VM Infrastructure is GONE… Troubleshooting is nightmare…  

    NEXT CERTIFICATION…..VMWARE  AUTODEPLOY EXPERT … (VAE)

 
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