Provisioning a host that has never been provisioned with Auto Deploy (first boot) differs from subsequent boot processes. You must prepare the host, define the image using the Image Builder PowerCLI, and fulfill all other prerequisites before you can provision the host.

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 Auto Deploy with PowerCLI Cmdlets.

When setup is complete, the Auto Deploy server and PowerCLI are installed, 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 gPXE from the location the server points it to. Next, the Auto Deploy server provisions the host with the image specified by the rule engine. The Auto Deploy server might also apply a host profile to the host if one is specified in the rule set. Finally, Auto Deploy adds the host to the vCenter Server system that is specified in the rule set.


(Optional) If Auto Deploy applies a host profile that requires user input such as an IP address, the host is placed in maintenance mode. In the vSphere Client, check the answer file or reapply the host profile and provide the user input when prompted.

The information is stored in an answer file that is associated with the host.

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, or location of the host, update the rules and perform a test and repair compliance operation. See Test and Repair Rule Compliance.