I heard about this new feature in vSphere 5.1 auto deploy and wanted to share this with you. Below the demonstration of the new Auto Deploy Stateful Install mode, available in VMware vSphere 5.1, for environments already configured to use Auto Deploy. Auto Deploy Stateful Install simplifies host provisioning with no custom scripting required.
Auto Deploy stateful install mode enables administrators to leverage the Auto Deploy infrastructure to provision new vSphere hosts. With stateful install, users perform a one-time PXE boot of a new host from the Auto Deploy server. Following the one-time PXE boot, all subsequent reboots will take place from the dedicated boot disk. Setting up stateful installs is similar to configuring stateless caching. The difference is the BIOS boot order configured on the server.
Where stateless caching is set to boot from the network first and fall back to the local disk only when the PXE boot fails, with stateful installs the host is configured to always try to boot from the local disk first and boot from the network only when no boot image can be found on the disk. With Auto Deploy stateful install mode, a new host will perform an initial one-time PXE boot using the Auto Deploy infrastructure to configure the host. After the initial boot, all subsequent reboots take place using the boot device.
With stateful installs, the Auto Deploy infrastructure is being leveraged as a provisioning tool similarly to how scripted installations or kickstart might be used. The advantage to Auto Deploy stateful install is that users are able to rapidly deploy hosts without having the need to create and maintain custom scripts. The software to be installed is determined using the Auto Deploy rules engine, and the host is configured using the vCenter host profiles and therefore doesn’t rely on external scripts.
With stateful installs, users leverage the Auto Deploy infrastructure to provision new hosts but forgo most of the benefits of stateless or stateless caching because after the vSphere hosts have been deployed, they must be maintained, patched and updated individually.
Read more on stateful install: http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/09/vsphere-5-1-auto-deploy-stateless-caching-and-stateful-installs.html