Template, Sysprep, Best Practice

Guys I am looking for some general advice and best practice.

I have a VMware environment with 16 hosts and about two hundred VM’s.

We are constantly deploying new servers for production testing and new applications. We typically retire and deploy about 8-15 servers per month.

I am looking for the best practice for deployment.

Typically I would create 1-3 master images and setup as templates.

I know when I use templates I must sysprep before final capture. The only thing is I need to update these images probably once per quarter or more frequently and I know that Microsuck has some limitations around number of times you can sysprep before we reach arm limitation.

Should we be using OVF or just templates?

What would you guys think is best practice?

Thanks in advance.



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  1. Which version of vSphere are you running? vSphere 7 brought out some awesome new functionality with Content Library and templates, might be worth looking into.

    Playing Devil’s Advocate for a moment, why do you sysprep the VM before turning it into a template?

  2. Look at using Packer to do your template creation. This process does a fresh install of the OS each time and configures it as required (including installing updates), which avoids the rearm issue you mentioned. Also, it’s command line-based so it’s easy to include in whatever automation/scheduling systems you have in place. As an example: One place I worked at had a scheduled task in Teamcity to build VMware templates every month.

  3. we don’t sysprep before converting to template. use the customization spec to deploy which will sysprep for you if you check generate new sid

  4. You don’t want to sysprep BEFORE saving as a template, and then just deploy a bunch of VMs. That defeats the purpose of sysprep.

    vSphere customization automatically calls sysprep (via VMware Tools) during the deployment of a VM, if you check the correct box when you are deploying it. It only adds a few minutes at most to the deployment time of each VM.

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