ESXi 5.1 U2 and Vcenter 5.1 U2
Back about a month ago a was creating a new template in vCenter for Windows Server 2012 R2. (see blog post on creating a new template). After doing a test deployment paired with custom specs (also created new one for 2012 R2) I ran into an issue. After the VM deployed from template it would never run the custom specs. I found out that, despite having the checkbox for ‘connect at power on‘ checked on the NIC, it was not turning the NIC on. Since the NIC wasn’t on, the custom specs could never run successfully (they tried). If I manually connected the NIC (check the box for ‘connected’) then the custom specs would complete successfully. However, partly because I am lazy and partly because I wanted to figure out the issue – this wasn’t good enough.
I spent the next week trying everything from re-adding the NIC, starting the template over from scratch, making a new custom specs from scratch, changing NIC drivers, re-installing the NIC drivers, re-installing the VM tools, etc, etc, etc. It was driving me nuts.
Finally I realized the VM Hardware version was version 8 where the latest and greatest for v5.1 was 9. Every other VM in our environment was also on 9. As it turns out, when building a new VM from scratch (right click > new Virtual Machine) it defaults to version 8 in 5.1 even though the latest greatest version is 9. Once I upgraded the VM Hardware version, everything worked as expected!
One more thing to note, be sure to have the box checked to have it check and upgrade vm tools on power on, otherwise you will run into more issues. The combination of having the latest VM Hardware version and VM tools version solved my issue.