Provisioning a Virtual Machine

One of the most common things that we do as cloud or virtualisation administrators is to create new virtual machines or instances. We get used to the procedure; picking a template, selecting a target cluster, datastore and network, choosing a suitable name. These are generally manual steps, but CloudForms and ManageIQ have an out-of-the-box virtual machine provisioning workflow that automates the process.

There are many steps involved in automatically provisioning a virtual machine. The provisioning workflow has been designed to be extremely flexible, and allows a great deal of customisation based on tagging, the requesting user’s group membership, and the destination Provider type (e.g. RHEV, VMware, OpenStack, etc.).

The Provisioning Process

The virtual machine provisioning process starts with a user (the requester) selecting either Provision VMs from under the Infrastructure → Virtual Machines → Lifecycle button group, or Provision Instances or from under the Cloud → Instances → Lifecycle button group(see Initiating a provisioning operation).

Figure 1. Initiating a provisioning operation

This takes us into a selection dialog where we pick an image or template to provision from, and click the Continue button (see Selecting the provisioning source template).

Figure 2. Selecting the provisioning source template

Once we click Continue, we enter into the virtual machine provisioning workflow, starting with information retrieved from the profile and moving into the state machine.

Group-Specific Considerations, and Common Processing

Provisioning a virtual machine or instance involves many separate decisions, and steps that come together to form the VM provisioning workflow.

Some of these steps need to be performed or evaluated within the context of the requesting user’s access control group membership, such as the choice of provisioning dialog to present to the user in the WebUI. We may for example, wish to customise the WebUI dialog to present a restricted set of options to certain groups of users (see also The Provisioning Dialog). We can decide to apply quotas to access control groups, or create specific customisations such as group-specific virtual machine naming schemes. Group-specific processing is typically performed in Request context, before the Tasks are created (see Requests and Tasks for a description of requests and tasks).

Other steps in the virtual machine provisioning workflow are common to all virtual machine or instance provisioning operations. These typically include the allocation of an IP address, registration with a CMDB, or emailing the requester that the provision has completed for example.

The group-specific Provisioning Profile contains the per-group attributes, instance and state machine names that are used in processing the provisioning Request, and in preparing the provisioning Task(s).

The more generic sequence of common steps involved in provisioning a virtual machine or instance come from the VM Provisioning State Machine. This is processed in the context of the provisioning Task.


This short chapter has introduced the group-specific provisioning profile and the more generic VM provisioning state machine that combine to form the virtual machine provisioning workflow.

In the following chapters, we will examine these in more detail, starting with the provisioning profile.

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