I owe a special thanks to TinkerTry visitors and frequent commenters Karel Moermans and Jean for the tip! In related news, vMA (SuSE) finally works with CyberPower's new version of the UPS shutdown package , CyberPower PowerPanel Business Edition 2.21, to handle consumer-priced USB based UPSs, working on an article about that now. Finally, ways to automatically and gracefully shut down when the power goes out, and restore VMs when the power comes back on line, affordable. It's about time!
Posted by Kyle Gleed, Sr. Technical Marketing Architect, VMware
Good news! The Auto Start bug introduced with 5.0 Update 1, which broke the VM Auto Start feature on the free version of ESXi, has finally been resolved. VMware released the ESXi patch "ESXi500-201207001" on July 12, 2012 which includes the fix.
Installing the patch does require a reboot of the host so be sure to coordinate the downtime.
You can download the patch from here: http://www.vmware.com/patchmgr/findPatch.portal
You can review the bulletins and image profiles included with the patch from here: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2019107
For help installing the patch check out this blog on ESXi Patches.
Happy Auto Starting :)