vSphere Auto deploy TFTP on Citrix PVS

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I occasionally do a deployment of Citrix on vSphere. When using Citrix a returning component is Provisioning Services (PVS) for automated deployment of Citrix session servers or VD images. When using a management cluster (to prioritize and separate control layer or infrastructure components) an option is to use auto deploy for the session images hypervisor hosts (depending on the edition, depending on the cluster requirements).
One of the components to use in auto deploy is TFTP for the boot image. This can be leveraged for PVS as well, as PVS also needs a type of boot image to start up the VM’s. With PVS this is also a TFTP service (or boot image, but we leave this out for this posting) that is installed at the PVS server.

Why not use this TFTP service as vSphere Auto Deploy does not include one?

What is Auto Deploy?

vSphere Auto Deploy facilitates a infrastructure for automatic server provisioning and network deployment (streaming) of the ESXi hypervisor image. It uses a central managed image, administrators just need to manage the central image and the host profiles. The deployment can be on local storage, state full on HDD, SD or USB or stateless to the hosts ram. It works in conjunction with:

– vCenter,
– host profiles,
– TFTP server,
– Auto Deploy server and Image Builder,
– a PXE boot infrastructure with a DHCP service.

These services can be installed on the vCenter host or hosted/integrated on specific services. When using the stateless host option be sure to have a high available Auto Deploy infrastructure. For example load balancing the TFTP and auto deploy services.

Auto Deploy and host profiles are available from the Enterprise plus Edition. Okay, not always will a virtual desktop cluster be set up with Enterprise Plus, but we can also do this in the management cluster as long as we prioritize the right machines.

What is PVS?

Provisioning Services infrastructure is also based on software-streaming technology. This technology allows computers to be provisioned and re-provisioned in real-time from a single shared-disk image. In doing so, administrators can completely eliminate the need to manage and patch individual systems. Instead, all image management is done on the master image.

PVS works with:

– PVS vDisk store for the master image,
– PVS Console for setting up farm, device collections and managing updates and assignments,
– PVS Streaming service,
– PVS Citrix Shared components, such as MSSQL data store, License server,
– PVS Network services DHCP, PXE and TFTP.

Boot image

A boot image or boot strap file is a small kernel used to start up the machine, connect to the network and receive it’s image via network. The boot file must be configured so that it contains the information needed to communicate with the streaming services, Auto Deploy or PVS.

Putting it all together

As the list above we have some components that are used on both the infrastructures, DHCP, TFTP and PXE. The DHCP is used to provide a bootp image server and image name to the PXE clients (options 66 to the PXE/TFTP on the PVS server and 67 for the boot image name). The PXE infrastructure is a networking zone where client connect to. These clients are configured to boot from network (change the VM bios boot order for example). This can be a separate network, a logical separated network (vLAN) or just a one in all network (policies are advisable to guarantee some networking bandwidth to different types) depending on the requirements of the organization. We will be using a DHCP scope already set up on Microsoft DHCP and TFTP service on the PVS server (why set up more than one).

We can setup the DHCP options on scopes (if logical separate networks) or on leases (DHCP reservations for the smallest amount of host. If we have less ESXi hosts than streaming VM’s we put a scope option to the common image and use DHCP reservations to the other image). We will use to same TFTP service (66), but depending on the sort of machine (VM or ESXi host) we use a different boot image name.

First we get the Auto deploy TFTP image from the vCenter service and put it in the PVS image locations. We connect to the vCenter services via the Web client and browse to vCenter, vCenter server name, manage and auto deploy. Here we have the option to download the TFTP boot zip.


The boot zip is a collection of vSphere boot straps with the correct IP of your auto deploy service (it is created on installation).


Next we connect to the PVS server and go to the PVS TFTP image location. This is in C:ProgramDataCitrixProvisioning ServicesTFTPboot.


Here we place the Auto Deploy images from the boot zip.


Next up we change the DHCP options accordant, I used the DHCP scope options for the PVS image and used a reservation for the ESXi hosts (as these are just three hosts). Citrix is using the ARDBP32.bin image from the lab PVS server.


And VMware is setup to use the undionly.kpxe.vmw-hardwired image from the same lab PVS server.


Let’s boot the machines up. First the ESXi host. It receives the correct VMware image and starts to boot the base image from auto deploy.


Next up start a VM to use the PVS stream image:

imageIt boot’s up to connect to the PVS server. Unfortunately I apparently forgot to add an entry for this device (auto create is off as well), no vDisk in this example. But if we add a vDisk this will load as well.


Alternatively we can setup a TFTP service in on a other host if we want to separate this service from the PVS service and do the same for the Citrix boot image. Just follow the same procedure and add the Citrix images as well.

High Available

Standard the TFTP service is not high available, and when using multiple dependent services the need to increase availability is even higher. Set up a High available PVS, auto Deploy service by for example leveraging a Netscaler (or other LB with service check technique) to load balance the TFTP services and streaming services.

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