When you manage configuration of your ESXi hosts through your clusters, you should always try to make it as uniform as possible. A slightly different parameter in one of your hosts can bring you hours of troubleshooting. Using Host Profiles to apply the same configuration to all your ESXi 7 hosts within the cluster is easy.

Host Profiles allow you to automate and centralize the configuration of your hosts, whether part of a cluster or an individual host. They allow storing parameters that can configure networking, storage, security, and another host's configuration by simply applying the Host Profile to a particular host.

Host Profiles also allow validating a host config by checking the compliance against the Host Profile. This is valid for a single host or for a whole cluster. You can clearly see the benefits here of having completely uniform clusters with 100 percent identical host configuration. You will never be sure with manual work.

Note that Host Profiles are only part of Enterprise Plus licensing. If you don't have Enterprise Plus, you should do a 60-day trial and create a virtual lab to see whether it would help your organization or not.

Set up and configure a reference host ^

In this step, which we will not detail, you'll basically need to configure a reference host with all the necessary configuration. You'll install a new host and configure networking, storage, and security. We won't go into those details as they are outside the scope of this post.

Create a new vSphere 7 Host Profile ^

The best way to create a new Host Profile is to extract one from an already configured host. In this way, you don't start from scratch. Instead, you're taking an existing config that you'll apply to the rest of the cluster.

Go to Menu > Shortcuts and click the Host Profiles shortcut.

vSphere 7 Host Profiles shortcut icon

vSphere 7 Host Profiles shortcut icon

Once there, click the Extract Host Profile link button. On the next screen, we'll need to select the host we want to extract the profile from. This will be our reference host (source host).

vSphere 7 Host Profiles shortcut icon 1

vSphere 7 Host Profiles shortcut icon 1

Then simply give it a meaningful name and click the Finish button. It is important to correctly name your reference profile. If you're in a regulated environment, you'll probably have to respect some naming conventions. You can also add a description, where you can detail the configuration, if necessary.

Give it a meaningful name and click _Finish

Give it a meaningful name and click _Finish

The system will start extracting and creating the profile, and after a while you should see the profile created.

That was the first part of what we have to do to successfully create and manage our ESXi 7 hosts within our cluster via Host Profiles.

Now that we have our Host Profile created, we can do many things. We can:

  • Duplicate the Host Profile
  • Copy settings from a host
  • Copy settings to Host Profiles
  • Import/export Host Profiles
Possible actions available with vSphere 7 Host Profiles

Possible actions available with vSphere 7 Host Profiles

Edit the vSphere 7 Host Profile ^

When you want to change the configuration of your hosts, the first thing to do is to edit your Host Profile and then apply the configuration to your hosts.

For some reason, the link to edit the Host Profile is missing on this screen, so we must click through the Host Profile. You'll see this screen where you can click Actions > Edit Host Profile.

Edit Host Profile

Edit Host Profile

You can edit the existing configuration or add new configuration attributes.

For our example, we'll add another vSwitch to our profile. When you click the networking configuration > Standard switch and hover your mouse over, you'll see a green plus sign that allows you to add a component. In our case, we'll add a vSwitch.

Click the green plus sign to create a new vSwitch

Click the green plus sign to create a new vSwitch

Note that when you hover a mouse over an existing component, you can delete it.

When you hover a mouse you can also delete a component

When you hover a mouse you can also delete a component

You can also add additional attributes.

When you finish editing your Host Profile, you can reapply the configuration to your hosts. Once you do, they will be automatically updated.

Note: If your host changed and you added some new configuration to your host, you can use the Copy settings from host option.

Copy settings to Host Profile ^

This option allows you to modify the settings of a Host Profile from another Host Profile. You can pick a section that you want, check the box, and then update this section to your existing Host Profile.

Copy settings to a Host Profile

Copy settings to a Host Profile

Then choose the destination Host Profile to apply.

Apply a Host Profile to a host or cluster ^

Once you have the Host Profile created and extracted from a reference host, you can apply it to a cluster or host.

Right-click the host or cluster and select Host Profiles > Attach Host Profile.

Attach a Host Profile to a cluster

Attach a Host Profile to a cluster

Pick the profile you want to attach and click OK. Now, when you select that cluster, you can see it has a profile attached.

Check compliance of an ESXi host in a cluster

Check compliance of an ESXi host in a cluster

We need to check the compliance via the Check Compliance button. But as the reference profile was extracted from a host that was part of a vSAN cluster, we'll most likely get some errors because we only have a single host in this cluster. But it was just a part of our test.

Here is the view. When you select the check box next to the host, the lower pane shows you why it is not compliant.

Host not compliant and details

Host not compliant and details

As you can see, the system will tell you exactly what's not the same compared to the profile. Before you execute the remediation, you can click the Pre-Check Remediation button and see what will be changed on the host before the remediation.

When a host or cluster is not in compliance with the attached profile, you must remediate it. Once you remediate, you should have green everywhere, and everything should match the Host Profile configuration. You can be sure that the cluster config is the same within each of the hosts that are part of this cluster.

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Final words ^

VMware vSphere 7 Host Profiles are a very powerful utility for all IT admins. It really makes it simple to create uniform configurations across hosts and clusters. VMware Host Profiles can be modified or duplicated as many times as needed to match your requirements.

1 Comment
  1. Korso 1 week ago

    Hi Vladan,
    First of all, thank you for the article, it's very helpful.
    In my understanding to have host profiles carrying over configuration, at least one host should be configured properly. Networking, storage I understand. I'm talking about "Advanced System Settings". There are a bunch of settings where I am clearly lost.
    Could you please recommend any article / source where I can find best practices for these settings?
    Thank you.

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