Other than using a third party app like Acronis or Ghost, what is the best way to quickly provision a VM Windows Guest by cloning a Gold VM? How can I do thi in ESX?
Build a new VM, shut it down, click mark as template. Then click the template, choose deploy from this template, and (potentially) customize the guest OS using the wizard.
From what interface do I find this object called "Mark as template"? I have looked in the Web interface and the "Virtual Infrastructure Client".
The ability to make template is provided from VI interface and only when using Infrastructure. The easiest way to clone a VM without the template options is to copy the vmdk file from within the console.
Create your gold image. When you want to clone it use the VI client to create a new VM with a disc of the same size. From the console use the vmdktools -i command to copy the 'gold' vmdk over the newly created vdmk.
Start up your new server.
Once you have your Gold Image guest created, just shut it down and clone to new virtual machine in virtual center. You don't have to create templates. This way, if you need to update you image, just power it on, makes the changes and power it back off. Then you are ready to make more clones.