Today I managed to succeed in my objective of fully automating the base ESXi install and initial configuration using a PXE setup with TFTP and DHCP. I have to configure the datastore array on the server (ready for automated partitioning) and ensure UEFI network book is off (opting for Legacy), but with the Lights-Out capabilities of the server this is easily done remotely. Each host uses it’s own ks.cfg file so this has to be edited prior to deployment and a corresponding MAC address pxeclient file created. I plan to use just one ks.cfg file with the kickstart process pulling network details during an initial DHCP boot via DNS (if possible) and this should eliminate the need to setup the MAC pxeclient file too if I decide to.
I used information gleaned from http://everythingshouldbevirtual.com/build-tftp-server-esxi-installs and http://www.geeksecrets.net/ to inspire me.
With hardware shipping to the DC soon, I wanted to be in a position where I could build and rebuild hosts from a remote location without having to faff around with USB or CDROM virtually mounted media.