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May 6, 2015

Cloning and deploying ESXi

I’ve got a pile of MicroSD cards, a few racks worth of blades in different locations, and a hankering to deploy VMware in a stateful manner by simply plugging these SD cards in and booting up the blades or deploy blades with SD cards and perform remote installs with as little effort as possible.

 

First challenge is to reduce the amount of effort in prepping or installing the base hypervisor on the SD cards.

I can clone them quickly using an SD card reader from a base image – however ESXi has to be prepared for cloning (Windows engineers will recognize this as a Sysprep).

  1. Install ESXi on a blade as you normally would.
  2. Boot ESXi and make sure it boots up without issues. You could join it to vCenter and push any applicable patches or VIBs your blade will need (Nexus 1k VEM, EMC PowerPath, etc).
  3. Log into the console and select the last option “Reset System Configuration” , press F-11 to confirm, press Enter to restart the host.
  4. Once ESXi reboots, shutdown the blade and grab the SD Card, that’ll be your master image.
  5. You can now clone this SD card or better yet, create a master template image file so you can push it multiple times. Each copy will generate its own UUID and Service Console MAC address so there will be no conflicts.

One thing to note – your password is now BLANK, so when you deploy – make sure you get a strong password on it. I’ll be using host profiles so that’ll be taken care of during the prep for production.

 

My second option is to create a custom install ISO. I’m looking to have this ISO boot to a menu or prompt that will allow the installing engineer enter in the host name, IP address, and whatnot – then install and customize the ESXi install automatically and reboot.

Still investigating that.

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