Custom deployment using VMware VM Template

Creating a new Virtual Machine from a VMware VM template is a very simple process. It is wizard driven and can also be run using command line. In this article as part of the series on how to deploy Windows Server 2016 in VMware we’ll review the stages on how to deploy a custom Virtual Machine based on a VM template.

As already mentioned in the previous article also the VMware vCenter takes the full advantage of the Windows SysPrep utility for Microsoft based operating systems.

In this step the usual wizard for creating a new Virtual Machine will take place. As an option we’ll choose to deploy this one from a VM template and will also add a custom specification file. As soon as the new Virtual Machine is deployed and running after the reboot the specification file will be injected inside the VM to configure the required settings.

Let’s take a look at the steps in more details.


Create new Virtual Machine from VM template

From the Data Center, Host or folder view let’s start the wizard to create a new Virtual Machine and select Deploy from VM template option. VM Template Deploy

Next we need to point to the desired VM template we want to use. Depending on the size of your home lab you might want to organize them in a folder structure.

It is important to also check the “Customize the operating system” option. Moreover unless I’m happy to use the VM template as it is I’m not selecting the option to automatically Power On the Virtual Machine after creation.

This allows me to change some settings like Network Port Groups, adding new drives and eventually adjust vCPUs and RAM Memory. select VM Template

At this point we can select the location where this new Virtual Machine will be placed. In the same screen also the option to select the Virtual Machine name. This goes in line with the instructions in the Custom Specification file. VM Template new name

From this screen we can select the Host associated to this particular Virtual Machine. Interestingly the wizard it also showing any incompatibility upon selection. Very useful for network and storage inconsistency across multiple vSphere Hosts associated to the same virtual Distributed Switches. VM Template compute resource

As a next step now we can select the Datastore where the New Virtual Machine is going to be deployed. It is also interesting from the same page we can also dictate which VM Storage Policy to use. VM Template storage

At this point we are ready to select the Custom Specification file to associate to the VM template and create the new Virtual Machine. VM Template customization

As per customization file we can choose the Hostname for the newly created Virtual Machine. And as the name suggests I’m already preparing my home lab to build a Veeam Cloud Connect environment! VM Template hostname

As a final step the wizard shows the main settings before committing and proceeding. VM Template wizard summary

At this point the vCenter will run a Provisioning job to clone the VM template into a a regular Virtual Machine. Effectively the main file extension will  change from “*.vmtx” to “*.vmx”.

As part of this process the vCenter will also inject the Custom Specification file. VM Template boot

The new Virtual Machine is now running the first reboot and is executing the instruction in the Custom Specification file. VM Template customization in progress

As we can see from the final result the new Virtual Machine is installed and customized with the desired name. The activation process failed as I did provide the wrong network information! I have already fixed this by updating the Custom Specification file 🙂 VM Template custom VM

This article concludes the series dedicated on how to Deploy Windows Server 2016 on VMware. I will keep this series open to extra pertinent topics.

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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