A well-designed reference host connects to all services such as syslog, NTP, and so on. The reference host might also include setup of security, storage, networking, and ESXi Dump Collector. You can then apply the host setup to other hosts with host profiles.

The exact setup of your reference host depends on your environment, but you might consider the following customization.

NTP Server Setup

When you collect logging information in large environments, you must make sure that log times are coordinated. Set up the reference host to use the NTP server in your environment that all hosts can share. You can specify an NTP server with the vicfg-ntp command. You can start and stop the NTP service for a host with the vicfg-ntp command, the vSphere Client, or the vSphere Web Client.

Syslog Server Setup

All ESXi hosts run a syslog service (vmsyslogd), which logs messages from the VMkernel and other system components to a file. You can specify the log host and manage the log location, rotation, size, and other attributes with the esxcli system syslog vCLI command or with the vSphere Web Client. Setting up logging on a remote host is especially important for hosts provisioned with Auto Deploy that have no local storage. You can optionally install the vSphere Syslog Collector to collect logs from all hosts.

Core Dump Setup

You can set up your reference host to send core dumps to a shared SAN LUN, or you can install ESXi Dump Collector in your environment and set up the reference host to use ESXi Dump Collector. See Configure ESXi Dump Collector with ESXCLI. You can either install ESXi Dump Collector by using the vCenter Server installation media or use the ESXi Dump Collector that is included in the vCenter Server Appliance. After setup is complete, VMkernel memory is sent to the specified network server when the system encounters a critical failure.

Security Setup

In most deployments, all hosts that you provision with Auto Deploy must have the same security settings. Make any customization in your reference host. You can, for example, set up the firewall to allow certain services access to the ESXi system. See the vSphere Security documentation. Security setup includes shared user access settings for all hosts. You can achieve unified user access by setting up your reference host for Microsoft Active Directory.


If you set up Active Directory by using host profiles, the passwords are not protected. Use the vSphere Authentication Service to set up Active Directory to avoid exposing the Active Directory password.

Networking and Storage Setup

If you reserve a set of networking and storage resources for use by hosts provisioned with Auto Deploy, you can set up your reference host to use those resources.

In very large deployments, the reference host setup supports an Enterprise Network Manager, which collects all information coming from the different monitoring services in the environment.

Auto Deploy Reference Host Setup
Auto Deploy Server and vCenter Server connect through a switch with multiple ESXi hosts. Hosts use either local storage or SAN storage. The reference host setup, which might include setup for DNS, NTP, syslog, monitoring, and more configures the reference host for the syslog server, DNS Server, or NTP server in the environment.

Configuring an Auto Deploy Reference Host explains how to perform this setup.