Provisioning a host that has never been provisioned with vSphere Auto Deploy (first boot) differs from subsequent boot processes. You must prepare the host and fulfill all other prerequisites before you can provision the host. You can optionally define a custom image profile with vSphere ESXi Image Builder by using the vSphere Web Client or PowerCLI cmdlets.

Make sure your host meets the hardware requirements for ESXi hosts.

See ESXi Hardware Requirements.

Prepare the system for vSphere Auto Deploy. See Preparing for vSphere Auto Deploy.

Write rules that assign an image profile to the host and optionally assign a host profile and a vCenter Server location to the host. See Managing vSphere Auto Deploy with PowerCLI Cmdlets or Managing vSphere Auto Deploy with the vSphere Web Client.

When the setup is complete, the vSphere Auto Deploy service is enabled, DHCP setup is complete, and rules for the host that you want to provision are in the active rule set.


Turn on the host.

The host contacts the DHCP server and downloads iPXE from the location the server points it to. Next, the vSphere Auto Deploy server provisions the host with the image specified by the rule engine. The vSphere Auto Deploy server might also apply a host profile to the host if one is specified in the rule set. Finally, vSphere Auto Deploy adds the host to the vCenter Server system that is specified in the rule set.


(Optional) If vSphere Auto Deploy applies a host profile that requires user input such as an IP address, the host is placed in maintenance mode. Reapply the host profile with the vSphere Web Client and provide the user input when prompted.

After the first boot process, the host is running and managed by a vCenter Server system. The vCenter Server stores the host's image profile, host profile, and location information.

You can now reboot the host as needed. Each time you reboot, the host is reprovisioned by the vCenter Server system.

Reprovision hosts as needed. See Reprovisioning Hosts.

If you want to change the image profile, host profile, custom script, or location of the host, update the rules and activate them by using the vSphere Web Client or perform a test and repair compliance operation in a PowerCLI session. See Rules and Rule Sets or Test and Repair Rule Compliance.