Before you start installing the BIG-IP, we recommend that you browse the BIG-IP Solutions Guide and find the load balancing solution that most closely addresses your needs. If the BIG-IP® unit is running the 3-DNS software module, you may also want to browse the 3-DNS Administrator Guide to find a wide area load balancing solution. Briefly review the basic configuration tasks and the few pieces of information, such as IP addresses and host names, that you should gather in preparation for completing the tasks.
Once you find your solution and gather the necessary network information, turn back to the Installation Guide for hardware installation instructions, and then return to the Administrator Guide to follow the steps for setting up your chosen solution.
The BIG-IP offers both web-based and command line configuration tools, so that users can work in the environment that they are most comfortable with.
All users will use the First-Time Boot utility, a wizard that walks you through the initial system set up. You can run the First-Time Boot utility from the command line, or from a web browser. The First-Time Boot utility prompts you to enter basic system information including a root password and the IP addresses that will be assigned to the network interfaces. The BIG-IP Reference Guide provides a list of the specific pieces of information that the First-Time Boot utility prompts you to enter.
The Configuration utility is a web-based application that you use to configure and monitor the load balancing setup on the BIG-IP. Once you complete the installation instructions described in this guide, you can use the Configuration utility to perform the configuration steps necessary for your chosen load balancing solution. In the Configuration utility, you can also monitor current system performance, and download administrative tools such as the SNMP MIB or the SSH client. The Configuration utility requires Netscape Navigator version 4.7, or Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.0 or later.
The bigpipeTM utility is the command line counter-part to the Configuration utility. Using bigpipe commands, you can configure virtual servers, open ports to network traffic, and configure a wide variety of features. To monitor the BIG-IP, you can use certain bigpipe commands, or you can use the bigtopTM utility, which provides real-time system monitoring. You can use the command line utilities directly on the BIG-IP console, or you can run commands using a remote shell, such as the SSH client (encrypted communications only), or a Telnet client (for countries restricted by cryptography export laws). For detailed information about the command line syntax, see the BIG-IP Reference Guide, Chapter 7, bigpipe Command Reference, and Chapter 11, Monitoring and Administration.
The BIG-IP Administrator Kit provides all of the documentation you need to work with the BIG-IP. The information is organized into the guides described below. The following printed documentation is included with the BIG-IP unit.
The following guides are available in PDF format from the CD-ROM provided with the BIG-IP. These guides are also available from the first Web page you see when you log in to the administrative web server on the BIG-IP.
To help you easily identify and understand important information, our documentation uses the stylistic conventions described below.
All examples in this documentation use only non-routable IP addresses. When you set up the solutions we describe, you must use IP addresses suitable to your own network in place of our sample addresses.
To help you identify sections where a term is defined, the term itself is shown in bold italic text. For example, a virtual server is a specific combination of a virtual address and virtual port, associated with a content site that is managed by a BIG-IP or other type of host server.
We apply bold text to a variety of items to help you easily pick them out of a block of text. These items include web addresses, IP addresses, utility names, and portions of commands, such as variables and keywords. For example, with the bigpipe pool <pool_name> show command, you can specify a specific pool to show by specifying a pool name for the <pool_name> variable.
We use italic text to denote a reference to another document. In references where we provide the name of a book as well as a specific chapter or section in the book, we show the book name in bold, italic text, and the chapter/section name in italic text to help quickly differentiate the two. For example, you can find information about bigpipe commands in the BIG-IP Reference Guide, Chapter 7, bigpipe Command Reference.
We show complete commands in bold Courier text. Note that we do not include the corresponding screen prompt, unless the command is shown in a figure that depicts an entire command line screen. For example, the following command shows the configuration of the specified pool name:
bigpipe pool <pool_name> show
b pool <pool_name> show
Table Intro.1 explains additional special conventions used in command line syntax.
|Item in text||Description|
|\||Indicates that the command continues on the following line, and that users should type the entire command without typing a line break.|
|< >||Identifies a user-defined parameter. For example, if the command has <your name>, type in your name, but do not include the brackets.|
||||Separates parts of a command.|
|[ ]||Indicates that syntax inside the brackets is optional.|
|...||Indicates that you can type a series of items.|
You can find additional technical information about this product in the following locations:
The BIG-IP offers the following major new features in version 4.1, in addition to many smaller enhancements.
This release includes support for the IP Application SwitchTM hardware platform.
This release includes an SSL-to-server feature. In some situations, your security needs may require you to encrypt traffic behind the virtual server. You can use this feature to re-encrypt traffic after it is processed by the BIG-IP.
This release includes two startup enhancements:
This release features enhanced statistics for BIG-IP interfaces. The following state information and statistics are now available: MTU, Speed, MAC address, packets in, errors in, packets out, errors out, collisions, dropped packets, bits in, bits out. The purpose of the change is:
In this release, the WMI Data Collecting Agent (ISAPI) and the WMI Monitor Agent (WMIHttpAgent) have been enhanced to support WMI metrics for Windows MediaTM Services.
For the BIG-IP® IP Application SwitchTM, you can copy traffic from any port or set of ports to a single, separate port. This is called port mirroring. The target port, called the mirror-to port, should have attached to it a sniffer device for debugging and monitoring.
Spanning tree protocol is supported in this release.
This release includes a number of improvements to the web-based Configuration utility. All new features for this release are supported by the Configuration utility.
The BIG-IP platform offers many different software systems. These systems can be stand-alone, or can run in redundant pairs, with the exception of the BIG-IP e-Commerce Controller, which is only available as a stand-alone system. You can easily upgrade from any special-purpose BIG-IP to the BIG-IP HA software, which supports all BIG-IP features.