Posts Tagged ‘host profiles’

vSphere Host Profiles: Using Customization Files

February 15, 2020

Overview

If you own vSphere Enterprise Plus licences, using vSphere Host Profiles is a no brainer. Even if you rarely add ESXi hosts to your cluster, why configure them by hand if you can do that by a few mouse clicks in a fast and consistent manner.

Host profiles are usually created by setting up one ESXi host according to your requirements and then capturing its state. Some settings in a host profile are unique to each host, which include the host name, VMkernel adapter network settings, user name for joining host to AD, etc. When you apply your profile to a new unprepared host, vCenter will ask you to specify these settings. This step is called host customization.

You can either type these settings manually or if you want to take your automation game one step further, you can use a customization file, which is simply the list of setting in .csv format.

This feature was first introduced in vSphere 6.5 and official documentation is a bit light on this topic. Purpose of this post is to close this gap by demonstrating where to find this configuration option.

Create

To create a customization file, right click on a ESXi host and choose Host Profiles > Export Host Customizations. This host has to have host profile already applied to it (including all customization settings), otherwise this option will be grayed out. This can be the first host you used to capture the original host profile.

Open .csv file in your editor of choice and change settings accordingly. If you adding multiple hosts to your cluster, you can write a script to generate multiple copies of this file for each new ESXi host you’re adding.

Apply

Host customization settings are specified (manually or using a customization file) when host profile is being applied to the host. So first right click on the host and choose Host Profiles > Attach Host Profile. Then on Customize hosts page import customization file by clicking on the Browse button:

Note: If you hit the “Host settings validation failed” error after applying host customizations, read my blog article here that explains the problem.

Conclusion

Pretty simple, isn’t it? Key is to not forget that customization file can be specified either when you are applying host profile or, alternatively, you can skip host customization step and use Host Profiles > Edit Host Customizations later. For host that doesn’t have a host profile associated with it, Edit Host Customizations option will always be greyed out.

Joining ESXi to AD in Disjoint Namespace

November 4, 2019

What is Disjoint Namespace?

Typically, when using Microsoft Active Directory you use AD-integrated DNS and your AD domain name matches you DNS domain name, but you don’t have to. This is quite rare, but I’ve seen cases where the two don’t match. For example, you might have a Linux-based DNS, where you register an esx01.example.com DNS record for your ESXi host and then you join it to an Active Directory domain called corp.local.

That’s called a disjoint namespace. You can read this Microsoft article if you want to know more details: Disjoint Namespace.

In my personal opinion, using a disjoint namespace is asking for trouble, but it will still work if you really want to use it.

Problem

If you end up going down that route, there’s one caveat you should be aware of. When you joining a machine to AD, among other things, it needs to populate DNS name field property of the AD computer object. This is an example of ESXi computer object in Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in:

If you configure example.com domain in your ESXi Default TCP/IP stack, like so:

And then you try to, for example, join your ESXi host to corp.local AD domain, it will attempt to use esx-01a.example.com for computer object DNS name field. If you’re using a domain account with privileges restricted only to domain join, this operation will fail.

This is how the problem manifested itself in my case in ESXi host logs:

Failed to run provider specific request (request code = 8, provider = ‘lsa-activedirectory-provider’) -> error = 40315, symbol = LW_ERROR_LDAP_CONSTRAINT_VIOLATION, client pid = 2099303

If you’re using host profiles to join ESXi host to the domain, remediation will fail and you will see the following in /var/log/syslog.log:

WARNING: Domain join failed; retry count 1.

WARNING: Domain join failed; retry count 2.

Likewise (ActiveDirectory) Domain Join operation failed while joining new domain via username and password..

Note: this problem is specific to joining domain using a restricted service account. If you use domain administrator account, it will force the controller to add the computer object with a DNS name, which doesn’t match the AD name.

Solution

Make sure ESXi domain name setting matches the Active Directory domain name, not DNS domain name. You can still use the esx-01a.example.com record to add the ESXi hosts to vCenter, but you have to specify corp.local domain in DNS settings (or leave it blank), because this is what is going to be used to add the host to AD, like so:

This way your domain controller will be happy and ESXi host will successfully join the domain.

Additional Notes

While troubleshooting this issue I saw a few errors in ESXi host logs, which were a distraction, ignore them, as they don’t constitute an error.

This just means that the ESXi host Active Directory service is running, but host is not joined to a domain yet:

lsass: Failed to run provider specific request (request code = 12, provider = ‘lsa-activedirectory-provider’) -> error = 2692, symbol = NERR_SetupNotJoined, client pid = 2111366

IPC is inter-process communication. Likewise consists of multiple services that talk to each other. They open and close connections, this is normal:

lsass-ipc: (assoc:0x8ed7e40) Dropping: Connection closed by peer

I also found this command to be useful for deeper packet inspection between an ESXi host and AD domain controllers:

tcpdump-uw -i vmk0 not port 22 and not arp

References

Host Profile Customization Issue

November 1, 2019

vSphere Host Profiles is a great feature for consistent ESXi host configuration and compliance checks, but can at times be flaky.

I’ve noticed an issue recently with Host Profiles in vSphere 6.7, where after providing host customization values the following error is shown in vSphere Web Client:

The “Update host customizations” operation failed for the entity with the following error message.

Host settings validation failed.

This is how the error message looks like in the client:

Even though it’s a bit annoying, I found it to be a furphy. Customizations are actually saved successfully and the error can be ignored. You can find the following messages in ESXi host’s /var/log/syslog.log file, which confirm that it works:


INFO: Execute completed
INFO: Validating AnswerFile Status1 = success
INFO: Cleaned up Host Configuration
INFO: GetAnswerFile completed

I’ve also found that this error doesn’t appear when you provide host customization values first time straight after attaching a profile to the host. Only when you update them. It also doesn’t show up in HTML5, only Web Client. I guess, one more reason to switch to HTML5.

Hope this blog post helps someone who searched in Google, but couldn’t find any information related to this error message.