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.

In our lab we have a pair of 5200v BIG-IPs that I’ve decided to test creating some new instances. These devices support up to four virtual guests. First, I’ve licensed the bare metal chassis with a key with a Best GBB license, and set the management IP via the console on the device. Once you have access to the web interface, you can set the hostname, and basic info. Avoid going through the whole wizard, as we won’t be using HA on the hypervisor. Finally, we’ll be doing some advanced networking to get things up and running.

A few things to know about vCMP. First, you can’t over provision resources. The 5200v has a quad-core processor, split up into hyper threaded “cores” available to vCMP. You can create either a 2 core + 8Gb guest, a 4 core + 16Gb guest, or a combination. Also, you can (and should) use up to the available resources of the hardware. Second, H/A is between guests, not the hypervisors. You configure the device with vCMP as a standalone device. Next, you create guests as H/A pairs between the two physical devices.

Its not recommended or supported to create an H/A pair on a single device. It doesn’t make much sense either. Third, you upgrade separately between hypervisor and guests. Starting with 11.6 you can share the hotfix and images between the hypervisor and guests. Before that version, you’ll need to copy it to each guest you want to upgrade.

Generally speaking, there are no requirements for the hypervisor or guests to be on the same version or any matrix of supported between the two, but I wouldn’t do any of this on a pre-11.4 version. Even if its supported, there’s no reason to be on older versions. Most of this definitely won’t work on version 10.

First, you’ll want to make sure you’ve set all of your basic settings such as NTP & DNS, syslog & SNMP. In the next post, we’ll go through F5 vCMP step by step.

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