2010-04-20

ESXi Deployment Solution - the beginning

I posted a small preview about a new ESXi Deployment Solution.

First question I would like to answer is why?

  1. Why is a Deployment solution needed for ESXi?
  2. Why is it any different to Deploying the full ESX version?

So the answers were:

  1. VMware has announced multiple times that ESXi will be the platform of choice for the next version of ESX. They are moving away from the Service Console for a multitude of reasons.

    The same way that you as a Virtualization Administrator would like to prepare a standard installation configuration for all your ESX Hosts, I am sure that you would like to deploy a standard ESXi across your environment.
  2. ESX you can deploy with a kickstart script. This is fully supported by VMware. At present there are two Virtual Appliances that you can use to deploy ESX, namely the UDA and the EDA. Personally I prefer using the UDA, just came more naturally to me. With the customization of kickstart script you can practically do what you would like - anything that can be run from the command line.

    Back to ESXi. At present there is no way to mass deploy - at least not any officially supported by VMware method. There are one or two mentions of how to do this. I do suppose (or so I am told) that this functionality will be available before we are all moved off of the Service Console.

Next Question is - what?

  1. What can you do with this deployment solution?
  2. What components will I need for this solution?

And the Answers:

  1. Anything you can do with the API, you can configure through this solution. Including adding the host to a cluster, patching, the options are almost endless
  2. a. PowerCLI
    b. PUTTY (or ssh client of your choice)
    c. One of the above mentioned deployment appliances (NOT compulsory) or a CD burner to create an
        ISO

And now for the open topic questions:

  1. Can this be used as a replacement for Host Profiles (which is only available in Enterprise Plus)?
  2. Will this be customizable - Can I make changes to suit my environment?
  3. Does this contain any proprietary code or compiled executables?
  4. How is this different to the mentions above of how to deploy ESXi?

The Answers:

  1. Host Profiles deals (at least the way I see it) with two different issues.
    a. Initial Configuration
    b. Compliance to a Baseline
    This solution will deal with the initial configuration only - it will not track to the compliance to a baseline thereafter.
  2. Yes and yes. The changes you will make will be limited only by what the vSphere API can do, and what changes you would like to put into the configuration script.
  3. Nope. All Powershell and Python - taken from example freely available on the internet.
  4. The idea is basically the same. There is the same kind of client/server framework. The ESXi host is deployed and when completed it notifies (client) a Powershell script (server) of its existence. The script then performs the configuration steps that you define on the new host. I was not satisfied with the results I was getting from the ideas that were posted above. There are some flaws in the process (at least from my point of view) and the flexibility of being able to make changes was minimal. I find that this new approach simplifies things for me and allows for greater flexibility.

So when will we see how this works?

I will be posting in the next upcoming posts, the process of setting up this system.

Comments and questions are always welcome.

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