VMware Host Profiles is a vCenter Server tool for designing and deploying ESX/ESXi hosts.
Host Profiles works by encapsulating a reference host configuration and turning it into a profile, or template, upon which other hosts or clusters of hosts can be configured. Deploying VMware Host Profiles can ensure host conformity in a mixed ESX and ESXi vSphere infrastructure. Host Profiles will not work with VI 3.5 or earlier hosts, however.
VMware recommends Host Profiles for vSphere environments with more than one host or cluster in vCenter Server. Administrators can manage host configuration images without individual host-by-host interventions, enabling compliance checks, automated host builds and other tasks.
Host Profiles bases policies for networking, storage and other settings on the reference host. These policies can be applied to hosts and clusters of hosts. Profile Editor allows administrators to change the policies attached to specific host profiles. They can also switch out the reference host for a host profile.
VMware has expanded the configuration control options since Host Profile's debut, but some administrators prefer to configure and reconfigure hosts and perform compliance checks by using PowerCLI scripts.