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I've set up a private and a public Distributed Switch with vCenter. Is there a way to tell vCenter/vSphere which IP range it can use to assign private IPs to each VM? For example: assign 10.0.1.2 to VM1, 10.0.1.3 to VM2, 10.0.1.4 to VM3, ...

Or would this require me to run my own DHCP server on the private network?

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A distributed switch is still just a switch, i.e. it's a layer 2 thing that doesn't directly deal with layer 3 protocols such as IP. vApps can hand out IP addresses however, look at those to perhaps do what you want, oh and get some training please, this is basic stuff.

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