Over a period of time – vSphere configuration changes, new ESXi hosts are added and should be configured identically so as they can co-exist with other ESXi hosts within the cluster. vSphere Host Profile feature enables us to export the configuration from a master ESXi host and save it as a template of policies known as host profile which can be used to configure other ESXi hosts with the same set of policies and configuration.

What is host profile

vSphere Host profiles eliminate manual UI-based host configuration and maintain consistency across the data center by using host profile policies.

These policies capture the blueprint from reference host configuration and then use it to configure networking, storage, security, and other settings on multiple ESXi hosts or clusters.

Using Host Profiles, the overall time required to set up and troubleshoot configurations drops dramatically because of the centralized configuration management and compliance checking.

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Creating a Host Profile

We start by setting up and configuring a host to be used as the reference host from which the host profile is created.

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We then use the Create Profile wizard to create a profile from the reference host. The entire configuration of the reference host including IP addressing, NFS Mounts are retrieved by vCenter Server which can be edited to further customize the policies in the host profile.

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Attaching Host Profile

Once the reference host profile is created, we then attach the host profile to a host or a cluster and check the host for compliance to the reference host’s profile ensuring the hosts are correctly configured.

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If the hosts are showing as non – compliant to the reference host’s we need to bring them to compliance after remediating them against the host profile.

Depending upon the host profile policy configurations it may require to reboot the host after remediation wherein we are prompted to place the host into maintenance mode before remediation, ESXi Hosts that are part of fully-automated vSphere DRS cluster are placed in maintenance mode at remediation.

Customizing a Host Profile

Host customization is created when the host profile is first applied to ESXi host which contains settings and configuration values which are unique to a host, like IP addresses, MAC addresses, and iSCSI qualified name.

With Host Profiles, we can simply specify the configuration we want instead of specifying how to do it. VMware vCenter Server will intelligently determine how to get to that desired configuration, for example: during the configuration process, Host Profiles can instruct VMware vCenter Server to automatically pick up network adaptors and assign them to a particular virtual switch rather than we as user worrying about which network adapters need to be assigned to a virtual switch.

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Host Profiles can also be used for standardization across multiple vCenter Server instances. For example, some organizations might have large environments that span across many vCenter Server instances and they want to standardize a single host configuration across multiple vCenter Server environments. This can be done by exporting the host profile in VMware Profile Format (.vpf) from one vCenter Server instance and then importing the host profile in other vCenter Server instances for using in their environments.

When a host profile is exported from a vCenter Server, the administrator and other user profile passwords are not exported because of security measures that stop passwords from being exported in plain text. And, after the profile is imported to the vCenter Server, we are prompted to enter values for the password.

Summary

Host Profiles is a unique feature of VMware vSphere available with enterprise plus licensing, which is used to apply the identical configuration to multiple VMware ESXi hosts. Certain items are unique to individual ESXi hosts which are known as ESXi Host Customizations, these Key items which are unique to individual ESXi hosts available through customizations and can be updated via CSV file or through UI. Host profiles are not just limited to standardization within a single vCenter Server and can be used across vCenter Server instances.

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