F5 BIG-IP Device Service Cluster Configuration

One question people ask me is “What is the best way to setup a HA?” Also known as an F5 BIG-IP Device Service Cluster, what are the steps are to configure one. There’s a few tricks, and missing one might mean hours of troubleshooting for something simple. I’ll go through the steps to setting up the group right on the first try below. A few things to note. With the device clusters, you can now create multiple active devices in a cluster, but generally I prefer to still run things active/standby. Also, you can pair different types of devices such as VE’s with hardware, or different types of hardware, but I also don’t recommend this. Some things may not work, such as mirroring, and it ends up complicating things unnecessarily.

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F5 BIG-IP vCMP Configuration

If you haven’t read step 1 here Starting out with vCMP, first take a look. This describes the features of F5 BIG-IP vCMP. With the basic system settings all set and licensed, go into the System: Resource Provisioning to provision vCMP. You can also do this step as part of the initial setup wizard. You’ll notice that when you have vCMP provisioned, the only option is dedicated, and that when you select it, no other modules can be provisioned with it; provisioning modules such as LTM will disable vCMP.

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Starting out with F5 vCMP

We’ve recently refreshed our F5 equipment and have decided to use F5’s version of virtualization called vCMP or virtual clustered multiprocessing. The nice thing about the technology is that we can split our F5’s for different sites, or different business units, so we can perform maintenance on one virtual F5 while the sites on the other virtual instances aren’t affected. Let’s discuss some of the F5 vCMP Concepts.

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F5 Virtual Server (VIP) Creation

Now that we have the basic ADC setup, we need to actually allow traffic to connect via the BIG-IP to the web application. We’ll do this by creating an F5 Virtual Server. There are a few things we need to build, and F5 has some great training at https://university.f5.com/ that explains the details, but for now, we can just build the relevant pieces and go from there.

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How to deploy an F5 VE in ESXi

As part of my series of posts related to the infrastructure behind websites, this post will show how to deploy an F5 VE in ESXi. Here’s a high level overview of the steps:

  1. Download the template from https://downloads.f5.com/
  2. Deploy to your hypervisor (ESXi in this case)
  3. Boot Vitual Machine
  4. Configure management networking
  5. Install License
  6. Setup Basic Networking
  7. Lock down and customize

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Building a highly available website with F5 BIG-IP LTM & Joomla/MySQL

Working with technology, one of the most important things that any website can have is availability. A beautiful layout, with great content doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t access it! There’s a lot of ways you can accomplish this, such as using round robin DNS or having disaster recovery sites, but what I’d like to focus on today is utilizing an application delivery controller (ADC) to load balance two different web servers. My preferred ADC is F5’s Local Traffic Manager(LTM). There’s a lot of technical reasons, but first for me is that its the leader in market share, which has been a big boost in my professional career.
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