vSphere Auto Deploy: Consider the Asset Tag to categorize ESXi Hosts

While designing for vSphere Auto Deploy you may want to group (categorize) your ESXi Hosts and attach a deploy rule (rule set) to them:

You specify the behavior of the Auto Deploy server by using a set of rules written in Power CLI. The Auto Deploy rule engine checks the rule set for
matching host patterns to decide which items (image profile, host profile, or vCenter Server location) to provision each host with.

So for instance, by creating a deploy rule (rule set) which matches on hardware type you could add all the same hardware to a specific cluster (with a specific host profile). But what if you got different vSphere Clusters, identical hardware and don’t want to make an exception by manually adding a pattern like hostname or mac address every time? In that case you could consider using the hardware Asset Tag to categorize your ESXi Hosts.

The overview below shows which patterns are available to filter on:

vendor Machine vendor name.
model Machine model name.
serial Machine serial number.
hostname Machine hostname.
domain Domain name.
ipv4 IPv4 address of the machine.
mac Boot NIC MAC address.
asset Machine asset tag.
oemstring OEM-specific strings in the SMBIOS.

As you can see most of the patterns are system specified and don’t leave any room to be creative yourself.

I personally find it a good idea to always add a pattern to your deploy rule to ensure that the ESXi hypervisor is never booted (by accident), unless a pattern matches. For new hardware you could for instance create a deploy rule named “Initial Boot”, which adds the ESXi Host to vCenter but doesn’t apply a Host Profile (it’s new hardware so you probably want to create a Host Profile for that first right?)
Hardware that (accidently) is booted to PXE and doesn’t match a pattern will simply display the message “Sleeping for 5 minutes and then rebooting” rather then starting the ESXi hypervisor and getting added to vCenter inventory.

PXE Sleeping

The key message here is that you could consider using the hardware Asset Tag to group (categorize) your ESXi Hosts and attach corresponding rule sets to them.

How do we change this Asset Tag? This obviously depends on the hardware manufacturer but I’ve outlined my experiences with IBM and HP servers below:

For IBM Servers you need to use the Advanced Setting Utility (ASU)

Usage: asu.exe set SYSTEM_PROD_DATA.SysEncloseAssetTag "XXXXXXX" --host <IMM_ip_address>

For HP Servers you can directly enter the Asset Tag from within the BIOS configuration.


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