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VMware ESXi Host Profiles

Using host profiles with ESXi hosts with version 7

So…why would I want to use host profiles? The answer is, easier administration, easier management, and easier troubleshooting and avoidance of configuration drift. Many times in my career, I have seen examples of misconfiguration of incomplete host configurations with items like NTP. Miss one of those critical core configuration items, and you may run into an issue down the road, potentially causing unneeded downtime.

As an administrator or engineer who is likely multi-tasking and is pulled in multiple directions and busy doing other items, it’s very easy to misconfigure or even forget to configure some host settings at all. Leveraging ESXi host profiles reduces the possibility of missing those items and helps guarantee your deployment will be successful!

With that said, let’s take a closer look at host profiles. One thing to note: one can use older hosts profiles with new hosts, but one cannot use new profiles with older hosts.

View existing host profiles

Take a look at your existing host profiles by going to vCenter, clicking on the main menu, selecting Policies and Profiles, and finally clicking on host profiles:

Note that by default, there are no host profiles

Let’s go ahead and create a host profile by extracting a from a host. Getting started with this, you will want to extract settings from a host that is already setup and configured with a desired state.

In my case, my ESXi-01 is setup and running, and I want to extract from this host


Alternatively, from the Inventory page, right click on the selected host, and select Host Profiles -> Extract Host Profile

Give it a Name and Description, then click OK

And now I can verify there is a single host profile

Now that the host profile has been extracted, it’s possible to either attach the profile or edit the profile. If there’s any setting in the profile extracted from the host that may need to be edited or de-selected, now is the time to edit the profile, before attaching it to any other cluster or host.

Editing host profiles can get fairly involved, and it’s a bit beyond the scope of this blog, so I will post another later covering this topic more in depth.

If all the settings are OK, then let’s attach the profile to more hosts. Right-click on the host profile and select Attach/Detach Hosts and Clusters

Demonstrating the options to attach host profiles, notice that I’m going to select the box next to MW-Prod, which will then apply this host profile to all the hosts in my cluster. At the same time, I’ll attach this host profile to my single host in the MW-Mgmt cluster and the hosts in that cluster

Let’s now check compliance on ESXi-01. Navigate to the host, click on configure, and under System click on Host Profile.

There in the right panel, next to Status, there’s a “?” – click Check Compliance and the compliance check will begin

When finished, you should see a compliant status like below, showing all is good

Next let’s perform a compliance check on the Prod cluster

Oh, well…it appears we have some non-compliant hosts. Let’s take a closer look and remediate…

Looking further at this host, I have a custom host value for the Product Locker! Because that setting is not a value I can edit for a customization, this host profile is not going to work on these two hosts and the cluster. Let’s fix that.

I’m going to create a new host profile based on ESXi-03.

Easy enough…go to the host, extract host profile (just like above) and now I have two host profiles – one with a customer location of the Product Locker (for VMware Tools), and another with the default location

Going back to the cluster, Host Profile section, I’m now going to change the Host Profile on the cluster – select the checkboxes and click Change

Select the new available host profile, click OK

Now let’s check for compliance again, and we’re good!

And going back to my Host Profiles panel, I see that all 3 of my ESXi host are now compliant with their attached host profile

That’s it! Now take a look at other items like Host Customizations.

Later on I’ll create some additional content that covers Host Exceptions and how to Edit a Host Profile, so watch for those!

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