VMware provides several methods to provision vSphere virtual machines. The optimal method for your environment depends on factors such as the size and type of your infrastructure and the goals you are trying to achieve.

Create a single virtual machine if no other virtual machines in your environment have the requirements you are looking for, such as a particular operating system or hardware configuration. For example, you might need a virtual machine that is configured only for testing purposes. You can also create a single virtual machine and install an operating system on it, then use that virtual machine as a template to clone other virtual machines from. See Creating a Virtual Machine.

Deploy and export virtual machines, virtual appliances, and vApps stored in Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) to use a preconfigured virtual machine. A virtual appliance is a prebuilt virtual machine that typically has an operating system and other software already installed. You can deploy virtual machines from local file systems, such as local disks (such as C:), removable media (such as CDs or USB keychain drives), and shared network drives. See Deploying OVF Templates.

Create a template to deploy multiple virtual machines from. A template is a master copy of a virtual machine that you can use to create and provision virtual machines. Templates can be a real time saver. If you have a virtual machine that you want to clone frequently, make that virtual machine a template. See Working with Templates and Clones.

Cloning a virtual machine can save time if you are deploying many similar virtual machines. You can create, configure, and install software on a single virtual machine and clone it multiple times, rather than creating and configuring each virtual machine individually. See Working with Templates and Clones.

If you have a smaller IT environment, you can use VMware vCenter Guided Consolidation to convert physical systems to virtual machines and import them into vSphere. See Converting Physical Systems to Virtual Machines.