Host Profiles allow you to take an existing host configuration and overlay it onto your ESX/i servers. They also allow you to determine if a host has changed from its original design and help to ensure that all your hosts are identically configured.
What makes up a Host Profile ?
A Host Profile is comprised of two parts:
- Configuration details: describes policies that govern how a host config should look including details about each specific configuration setting.
- Compliance details: describes a set of checks that are performed to ensure that the host is configured as specified in the profile.
Users new to Host Profiles should begin by familiarizing themselves with the VMware technical paper: Host Profiles Technical Overview
Host Profile Tips:
- Ensure that all hosts can see the same data stores, and have the same pathing policy configured.
- VMware recommends using a static IP address to simplify client access.
- In order to create an ESXi 5.0 host profile from vCenter Server 5.1, you must first have an ESXi 5.0 host in which to apply the profile.
- When starting a new deployment with mixed ESX and ESXi Hosts: Use an ESX host as the reference host and apply the Host Profile from this host to your ESX and ESXi Hosts.
- When adding an ESXi host to a vSphere deployment that previously held only ESX hosts, use a host profile created from an ESX host.
- When adding an ESX host to a vSphere deployment that previously held only ESXi hosts, use a host profile created from an ESXi host.
- Keep your ESX and ESXi hosts separately managed by different host profiles.
KB Articles on Host Profiles:
- Applying host profiles on ESX/ESXi 4.x and 5.x can swap vmk# order (1037576)
- Applying the host profiles on an HP box with 10G NetXen fails with the error: msg = "Error during the configuration of the host: Input/output error: Input/output error" (1014373)
- Creating host profiles of ESXi 5.0 hosts might fail with the error message: [Errno- 2] Name or service not known (2010068)
- ESXi 5.0 Auto Deploy does not support /etc/nsswitch.conf, /etc/hosts, /etc/services files through Host Profiles (2002699)
- ESXi 5.0 Auto Deploy does not support /etc/pam.d/passwd configuration file through Host Profiles (2002694)
- ESXi 5.0 Auto Deploy does not support /etc/security/login.map and /etc/security/access.conf files through Host Profiles (2002695)
- ESXi 5.0 Auto Deploy does not support krb5.conf, krb5-affinity.conf, and krb.realms.conf files through Host Profiles (2002692)
- Host Profiles compliance check fails when rebooting hosts with NMP device configuration inconsistently listed in VMware ESXi 5.1.x (2032822)
- Host Profiles compliance check shows compliance when host is configured for an Organizational Unit but added to another Organizational Unit (2001364)
- Host Profiles do not save default gateway configuration in vSphere 5.1 (2032817)
- Host Profiles reports error: Hosts do not have shared datastores (2010671)
- How to find the appropriate value for the 'String specifying the time zone' option of Host Profiles (1027572)
- Physical NICs set to Auto-negotiate cannot be changed to Fixed by using Host Profiles if the same speed and duplex settings are present (2005112)
- Some advanced configuration options are not supported with Host Profiles (2001994)
- Troubleshooting options are not applied as expected when you use host profiles (2002615)
One more interesting tidbit can be found on the topic over on this blog: Grappling With vSphere 5 Host Profiles (external).