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Manual Chapter: Working with Interfaces
Manual Chapter
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A key task of the BIG-IP® system configuration is the configuration of BIG-IP system interfaces. The interfaces on a BIG-IP system are the physical ports that you use to connect the BIG-IP system to other devices on the network. These other devices can be next-hop routers, Layer 2 devices, destination servers, and so on. Through its interfaces, the BIG-IP system can forward traffic to or from other network devices.
Note: Throughout this guide, the term interface refers to the physical ports on the BIG-IP system.
Every BIG-IP system includes multiple interfaces. The exact number of interfaces that you have on the BIG-IP system depends on the platform type. For information on BIG-IP platform types, see the relevant platform guide.
One of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system is a special interface dedicated to performing a specific set of system management functions. This interface is called the management interface.
All other interfaces on the BIG-IP system are known as TMM switch interfaces. TMM switch interfaces are those interfaces that the BIG-IP system uses to send or receive application traffic, that is, traffic slated for load balancing. The remainder of this chapter describes how to configure TMM switch interfaces. For information on how to configure and use the management interface, see Chapter 4, Configuring BIG-IP Platform Properties.
Each of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system has unique properties, such as media speed, duplex mode, VLAN tagging, and spanning tree protocol settings. You can use the Configuration utility to configure these properties. For more information, see Configuring interfaces.
In addition to configuring interface properties, you can implement a feature known as interface mirroring, which you can use to duplicate traffic from one or more interfaces to another. You can also view statistics about the traffic on each interface. For more information, see Configuring interface mirroring, and Displaying interface statistics.
Once you have configured the properties of each interface, you can configure several other features of the BIG-IP system that control the way that interfaces operate. For example, by creating a virtual local area network (VLAN) and assigning interfaces to it, the BIG-IP system can insert a VLAN ID, or tag, into frames passing through those interfaces. In this way, a single interface can forward traffic for multiple VLANs. For more information on configuring other BIG-IP features related to interfaces, see Related configuration tasks.
Note: An alternate way to configure interfaces is to use either the bigpipe utility or tmsh. For more information, see the Bigpipe Utility Reference Guide or the Traffic Management Shell (tmsh) Reference Guide.
Each interface on the BIG-IP system has a set of properties that you can configure, such as enabling or disabling the interface, setting the requested media type and duplex mode, and configuring flow control. Configuring the properties of each interface is one of the first tasks you do after running the Setup utility on the BIG-IP system. While you can change some of these properties, such as media speed and duplex mode, you cannot change other properties, such as the media access control (MAC) address.
Note: Only users with either the Administrator or Resource Administrator user role can create and manage interfaces.
By convention, the names of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system use the format <s>.<p> where s is the slot number of the network interface card (NIC), and p is the port number on the NIC. Examples of interface names are 1.1, 1.2, and 2.1. BIG-IP system interfaces already have names assigned to them; you do not explicitly assign them.
An exception to the interface naming convention is the management interface, which has the special name MGMT. For more information on the management interface, see Chapter 4, Configuring BIG-IP Platform Properties.
Using the Configuration utility, you can display a screen that lists all of the BIG-IP system interfaces, as well as their current status (UP or DOWN). You can also view other information about each interface:
This information is useful when you want to assess the way that a particular interface is forwarding traffic. For example, you can use this information to determine the specific VLANs for which an interface is currently forwarding traffic. You can also use this information to determine the speed at which an interface is currently operating.
On the General Properties screen for interfaces, you can view the media speed and the duplex mode of an interface. Use the following procedures to view the list of interfaces and related information, and to view the media properties of an interface.
On the Main tab of the navigation pane, expand Network, and click Interfaces. This displays a list of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system, along with their status and related information.
1.
On the Main tab of the navigation pane, expand Network, and click Interfaces.
This displays the list of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system.
2.
Click an interface name in the list.
This displays the general properties of that interface, as well as some configuration settings.
3.
In the General Properties area of the screen, view the Media Speed and Active Duplex properties.
You can configure a number of general properties for each interface. When you configure these properties, you customize the way that the interface forwards traffic. For example, if you want the interface to operate as part of a trunk, you can set the Requested Duplex mode to full, which is a requirement for trunk participation. Table 7.1 lists and describes these properties.
Specifies a media type and mode, or auto for automatic detection.
Use the following procedure to configure the general properties of an interface. For detailed information on these individual properties, see the sections following the procedure.
1.
On the Main tab of the navigation pane, expand Network, and click Interfaces.
This displays the list of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system.
2.
In the Name column, click an interface name.
This displays the general properties of that interface, as well as some configuration settings.
3.
In the Configuration area, configure the properties as needed.
For information on each property, see the following sections.
4.
Click Update.
You can either enable or disable an interface on the BIG-IP system, by configuring the State property. By default, each interface is set to Enabled, where it can accept ingress or egress traffic. When you set the state to Disabled, the interface cannot accept ingress or egress traffic.
You can configure the Requested Media property to specify the media type and duplex mode of the interface card, or you can use the auto setting for auto-detection. The values that you can choose from when configuring the Requested Media property are: auto, 10baseT full, 10baseT half, 100baseTX full, 100baseTX half, and 1000baseT full, and 1000baseT half.
The default setting for this property is auto. If the media type is set to auto and the card does not support auto-detection, the default type for that interface is used, for example 1000BaseT half.
Full duplex mode means that traffic on that interface can travel in both directions simultaneously, while half duplex mode means that traffic on that interface can only travel in one direction at any given time. Note that if you want the interface to be part of a trunk, the media type must be set to one with full duplex mode.
If the media type of the interface does not allow the duplex mode to be set, this is indicated by an on-screen message. If setting the duplex mode is not supported for the interface, the duplex setting is not saved to the bigip_base.conf file.
Note: If the BIG-IP system is inter-operating with an external switch, the media setting should match that of the external switch.
You can configure the Flow Control property to manage the way that an interface handles pause frames for flow control. Pause frames are frames that an interface sends to a peer interface as a way to control frame transmission from that peer interface. Pausing a peers frame transmissions prevents an interfaces First-in, First-out (FIFO) queue from filling up and resulting in a loss of data. Possible values for this property are:
Pause None
Disables flow control.
Pause TX/RX
Specifies that the interface honors pause frames from its peer, and also generates pause frames when necessary. This is the default value.
Pause TX
Specifies that the interface ignores pause frames from its peer, and generates pause frames when necessary.
Pause RX
Specifies that the interface honors pause frames from its peer, but does not generate pause frames.
For reliability reasons, you can configure a feature known as interface mirroring. When you configure interface mirroring, you cause the BIG-IP system to copy the traffic on one or more interfaces to another interface that you specify. By default, the interface mirroring feature is disabled.
Specifies one or more interfaces for which you want to mirror traffic on the destination interface.
1.
On the Main tab of the navigation pane, expand Network, and click Interfaces.
This displays the list of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system.
2.
On the menu bar, click Interface Mirroring.
The Interface Mirroring screen opens.
3.
From the Interface Mirroring State list, select Enabled.
This displays additional configuration settings.
4.
From the Destination Interface list, select the interface that you want the BIG-IP system to use for mirrored traffic.
5.
For the Mirrored Interfaces setting, click an interface number in the Available box, and using the Move button (<<), move the interface number to the Selected box. Repeat this step for each interface that you want to mirror.
6.
Click Update.
1.
On the Main tab of the navigation pane, expand Network, and click Interfaces.
This displays the list of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system.
2.
On the menu bar, click Statistics.
This displays statistics for the interfaces on the BIG-IP system.
3.
In the Display Options area of the screen, verify that the Statistics Type setting is set to Interfaces.
4.
For the Data Format setting, retain the default value (Normalized), or select Unformatted from the list.
5.
For the Auto Refresh setting, retain the default value of Disabled, or select an automatic refresh interval from the list.
Note: Setting the Auto Refresh value to a short interval could impact system performance.
After you have configured the interfaces on the BIG-IP system, one of the primary tasks you perform is to assign those interfaces to the virtual LANs (VLANs) that you create. A VLAN is a logical subset of hosts on a local area network (LAN) that reside in the same IP address space. When you assign multiple interfaces to a single VLAN, traffic destined for a host in that VLAN can travel through any one of these interfaces to reach its destination. Conversely, when you assign a single interface to multiple VLANs, the BIG-IP system can use that single interface for any traffic that is intended for hosts in those VLANs. For more information on VLANs and assigning interfaces to them, see Chapter 8, Configuring VLANs and VLAN Groups.
Another powerful feature that you can use for BIG-IP system interfaces is trunking, with link aggregation. A trunk is an object that logically groups physical interfaces together to increase bandwidth. Link aggregation, through the use of the industry-standard Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP), provides regular monitoring of link status, as well as failover if an interface becomes unavailable. For more information on using trunks and LACP, see Chapter 9, Working with Trunks.
Finally, you can configure your BIG-IP system interfaces to work with one of the spanning tree protocols (STP, RSTP, and MSTP). Spanning tree protocols reduce traffic on your internal network by blocking duplicate routes to prevent bridging loops. Chapter 19, Configuring Spanning Tree Protocols, describes the spanning tree protocols and the procedure for configuring these protocols on the BIG-IP system. The chapter also includes information on setting spanning tree-related properties on individual interfaces.
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