Labs Gallery: Putting VMware vSphere 4 Host Profiles to the Test

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Labs Gallery: Putting VMware vSphere 4 Host Profiles to the Test

by Cameron Sturdevant

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Host Profiles

In VMware vSphere 4, a host profile captures the configuration of a physical ESX host that you have perfected, including network, storage and security settings. The Host Profile View—shown here—is where host profiles are created and managed. In the lower left you see the first step in the Create Profile Wizard: Here, I am creating a host profile from an existing host that I've custom-configured for eWEEK Labs.

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Specify Reference Host

Since I'm creating a host profile from an existing system, it makes sense that I have to tell the vSphere 4 wizard which host to use. The reference physical system must have ESX or ESXi 4 installed on it, and it must be in maintenance mode. Host profiles won't work with any previous versions of VMware virtual infrastructure products.

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Ready to Complete the Profile

This is a summary screen that shows I'm using ESX host system at IP address .104 to create the profile name eweek_prof1.

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More on Host Profile

Host profiles must be created by an experienced VMware virtualization expert. This isn't because the technical process is difficult, but because the host profile will be used to create many more systems in the future. You can see at the bottom of the screen that this is where you can edit or export a host profile.

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Main Inventory Screen

Host Profiles is a new tab on the vSphere inventory home page.

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Apply Profile to Another Host

The first step in applying a host profile is to put the target host into maintenance mode. Here you see I have all of my ESX hosts (which are a mix of HP and Sun servers, all running Intel Xeon 5500 series processors with 12GB RAM) in maintenance mode. In the next step I'll apply the profile I created from Host .104 to Host .106.

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Not So Fast ...

Before a host profile can be applied, it must first be attached. "Attachment," from what I could see in my tests, is a manual process that makes the profile available to specific hosts. Again, this is an operation that requires an expert understanding of vSphere operations, since host profiles will be appropriate for some systems but not for others based on the physical configuration and intended purpose of the host. Here you see that I've attached the host profile I created from Host .104 to all of the other hosts in my "T2_cluster" vSphere cluster.

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Just Before Application

On the far left I've selected Host .106 and opened the "host profile" sub-menu, and I'm about to apply the profile.

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Configuration Changes to Apply

A small number of network and time server changes will be applied from the host profile to Host .106.

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Recent Tasks

Here you see a snippet from the vSphere 4 client "recent tasks" portion of the screen. I've successfully performed a number of host profile tasks, the most recent of which was to apply a profile to Host .106.

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Using Host Profiles for Compliance

I'm about to delete the iSCSI software adapter from the storage adapters on Host .108 to demonstrate how host profiles can be used to show when a system deviates from a specified configuration and how to correct the situation.

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Checking Compliance

Compliance checking is done through the same interface that I used when I applied the host profile. Here you see (from left to right) that I've selected Host .108, Host Profile and Check Compliance. Because I've deleted the storage networking adapter from this host, I expect to get a warning that the system is out of compliance. (Just for reference, you may notice in the lower right that a just completed compliance check was successful, as indicated by the green dot with a check mark in it.)

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As expected, the compliance check has turned up a deviation from the specified configuation, as indicated by the red dot with an X in it. I've hovered the mouse over the hyperlink in the vSphere client, which popped up the explainatory window that indicates that vSwitch1 was not found.

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Enforcing Compliance

I've reselected Host .108 and have started to apply the host profile. In this screen, you see that the networking components that were missing must have some IP address information. Since I use static IP addresses on these systems, I'm about to supply that information at this point in the host profile wizard.

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Changes to Apply

Here you see a long list of changes that will be applied to Host .108 to bring the host into compliance with the host profile I'm about to apply.

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Running Configuration

The host profile was successfully added to Host .108.

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