Stateless ESXi overview

The stateless ESXi feature in vCenter allows managing and monitoring ESXi installations. When a host is configured as stateless, it does not preserve its state across reboots, and prevents live installations of VIBs. Each time the ESXi boots, it is reinstalled from a predefined image. Stateless ESXi simplifies updates to the hypervisor and VIB, since they can be managed from one central point, without the need to update and install each host manually.

VMware provides the PowerCLI tool, which is used to build ESXi image profiles and to apply them to a host using deployment rules. After the image profile is created and the deployment rules are configured, the hosts will boot up and the configured image profile will be installed on each host.

In order to preserve essential settings on the ESXi when it is reinstalled, such as network configuration and kernel module parameters, vCenter manages entities called host profiles. A host profile contains settings that can be applied to multiple hosts. Multiple hosts can be attached to a single host profile, with some customization allowed for each individual host. Some settings, such as the kernel module parameters, are configured per host profile and are applied to all hosts attached to this profile. Other settings, such as IP addresses and IQN identifiers, are configured individually for each host.