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Manual Chapter: Setting Up Application Statistics Collection
Manual Chapter
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What is Analytics?

Analytics (also called Application Visibility and Reporting) is a module on the BIG-IP® system that you can use to analyze the performance of web applications. It provides detailed metrics such as transactions per second, server and client latency, request and response throughput, and sessions. You can view metrics for applications, virtual servers, pool members, URLs, specific countries, and additional detailed statistics about application traffic running through the BIG-IP system.

Transaction counters for response codes, user agents, HTTP methods, countries, and IP addresses provide statistical analysis of the traffic that is going through the system. You can capture traffic for examination and have the system send alerts so you can troubleshoot problems and immediately react to sudden changes.

The Analytics module also provides remote logging capabilities so that your company can consolidate statistics gathered from multiple BIG-IP appliances onto syslog servers or SIEM devices, such as Splunk.

About Analytics profiles

An Analytics profile is a set of definitions that determines the circumstances under which the system gathers, logs, notifies, and graphically displays information regarding traffic to an application. The Analytics module requires that you select an Analytics profile for each application you want to monitor. You associate the Analytics profile with one or more virtual servers used by the application, or with an iApps™ application service. Each virtual server can have only one Analytics profile associated with it.

In the Analytics profile, you customize:

  • What statistics to collect
  • Where to collect data (locally, remotely, or both)
  • Whether to capture the traffic itself
  • Whether to send notifications

The BIG-IP® system includes a default Analytics profile called analytics. It is a minimal profile that internally logs application statistics for server latency, throughput, response codes, and methods. You can modify the default profile, or create custom Analytics profiles for each application if you want to track different data for each one.

Charts shown on the Statistics > Analytics screens display the application data saved for all Analytics profiles associated with iApps application services or virtual servers on the system. You can filter the information, for example, by application or URL. You can also drill down into the specifics on the charts, and use the options to further refine the information in the charts.

Overview: Setting up application statistics collection

This implementation describes how to set up the BIG-IP® system to collect application performance statistics. The system can collect application statistics locally, remotely, or both. You use these statistics for troubleshooting and improving application performance.

You can collect application statistics for one or more virtual servers or for an iApps™ application service. If virtual servers are already configured, you can specify them when setting up statistics collection. If you want to collect statistics for an iApps application service, you should first set up statistics collection, creating an Analytics profile, and then create the application service.

The system can send alerts regarding the statistics when thresholds are exceeded, and when they cross back into the normal range. You can customize the threshold values for transactions per second, latency, page load time, and throughput.

Task Summary

Following are tasks for setting up application collection.

Setting up local application statistics collection

You need to provision the Application Visibility and Reporting (AVR) module before you can set up local application statistics collection. You must have Adobe® Flash® Player installed on the computer where you plan to view Analytics statistics.
You can configure the BIG-IP® system to collect specific application statistics locally.
  1. On the Main tab, click Local Traffic > Profiles > Analytics .
    Tip: If Analytics is not listed, this indicates that Application Visibility and Reporting (AVR) is not provisioned, or you do not have rights to create profiles.
    The Analytics screen opens and lists all Analytics profiles that are on the system, including a default profile called analytics.
  2. Click Create. The New Analytics Profile screen opens. By default, the settings are initially the same as in the default analytics profile.
  3. In the Profile Name field, type a name for the Analytics profile.
  4. For the Statistics Logging Type setting, verify that Internal is selected. If it is not, select the check box on the right first to activate the setting, then select Internal. Selecting Internal causes the system to store statistics locally, and you can view the charts on the system by clicking Overview > Statistics > Analytics .
  5. Review the read-only Transaction Sampling Ratio value, which shows the current global (analytics) status of sampling for the system. Learning from all transactions provides the most accurate statistical data but impacts performance. The system can perform traffic sampling; for example, sampling 1 of every 99 transactions; sampling is less precise but demands fewer resources. If you need to change the value, you can do it later by editing the default analytics profile. If using traffic sampling, the Traffic Capturing Logging Type setting and User Sessions metric option are not available.
  6. In the Included Objects area, specify the virtual servers for which to capture application statistics:
    1. For the Virtual Servers setting, click Add. A popup lists the virtual servers that you can assign to the Analytics profile.
    2. From the Select Virtual Server popup list, select the virtual servers to include and click Done.
    Note: You need to have previously configured the virtual servers (with an HTTP profile) for them to appear in the list. Also, you can assign only one Analytics profile to a virtual server so the list shows only virtual servers that have not been assigned an Analytics profile.
    Special considerations apply if using Analytics on a BIG-IP system with both Application Security Manager™ and Access Policy Manager™, where security settings (in Portal Access webtop or an iRule) redirect traffic from one virtual server to a second one. In this case, you need to attach the Analytics profile to the second virtual server to ensure that the charts show accurate statistics.
  7. To the right of the Statistics Gathering Configuration area, select the Custom check box. The settings in the area become available for modification.
  8. In the Statistics Gathering Configuration, for Collected Metrics, select the statistics you want the system to collect:
    Option Description
    Server Latency Tracks how long it takes to get data from the application server to the BIG-IP system (selected by default).
    Page Load Time Tracks how long it takes an application user to get a complete response from the application, including network latency and completed page processing.
    Note: End user response times and latencies can vary significantly based on geography and connection types.
    Throughput Saves information about HTTP request and response throughput (selected by default).
    User Sessions Stores the number of unique user sessions. For Timeout, type the number of minutes of user non-activity to allow before the system considers the session to be over. If using transaction sampling, this option is not available.
  9. For Collected Entities, select the entities for which you want the system to collect statistics:
    Option Description
    URLs Collects the requested URLs.
    Countries Saves the name of the country where the request came from based on the client IP address.
    Client IP Addresses Saves the IP address where the request originated. The address saved also depends on whether the request has an XFF (X-forwarded-for) header and whether Trust XFF is selected.
    Response Codes Saves HTTP response codes that the server returned to requesters (selected by default).
    User Agents Saves information about browsers used when making the request.
    Methods Saves HTTP methods in requests (selected by default).
  10. Click Finished.
  11. If you need to adjust the Transaction Sampling Ratio value, click the default analytics profile on the Profiles: Analytics screen. You can use the sampling ratio to fine-tune the tradeoff between more accurate data and a possible performance impact. The value set here applies to all Analytics profiles on the system.
    • Select all to collect all of the traffic that is being monitored and produce the most accurate results; it also poses the risk of performance reduction.
    • Select 1 of every n to sample every nth transaction; not all possible traffic is processed producing more generalized results, but performance is better.
    Generally, it is best to use all when the BIG-IP system has low TPS, and use 1 of every n when it has high TPS (for example, select 1 of every 20 to sample every twentieth request). If you enable sampling (by selecting a setting other than all), the User Sessions metric and Traffic Capturing Logging Type settings become unavailable.
The BIG-IP system collects statistics about the application traffic described by the Analytics profile. You can view the statistics by clicking Statistics > Analytics.
If you want to monitor statistics for an iApps™ application, create the iApp application service, enable Analytics on the template, and specify the Analytics profile you just created. The BIG-IP system then collects statistics for the application service, and the application name appears in the Analytics charts.

Setting up remote application statistics collection

You need to provision the Application Visibility and Reporting (AVR) module: System > Resource Provisioning before you can set up remote application statistics collection. You also need the IP address and port number for the remote logging server.
You can configure the BIG-IP® system to collect application statistics remotely on syslog servers or SIEM devices, such as Splunk.
  1. On the Main tab, click Local Traffic > Profiles > Analytics .
    Tip: If Analytics is not listed, this indicates that Application Visibility and Reporting (AVR) is not provisioned, or you do not have rights to create profiles.
    The Analytics screen opens and lists all Analytics profiles that are on the system, including a default profile called analytics.
  2. Click Create. The New Analytics Profile screen opens. By default, the settings are initially the same as in the default analytics profile.
  3. In the Profile Name field, type a name for the Analytics profile.
  4. To the right of the General Configuration area, click the Custom check box. The settings in the area become available for modification.
  5. For the Statistics Logging Type setting, click External.
  6. For the Remote Server IP Address field, type the IP address of the external logging server.
  7. For the Remote Server Port field, type the port used for the external logging server.
  8. From the Remote Server Facility list, select the facility category of the logged traffic. The possible values are LOG_LOCAL0 through LOG_LOCAL7.
    Tip: If you configure remote logging for multiple applications, you can use the facility filter to sort the data for each.
  9. In the Included Objects area, specify the virtual servers for which to capture application statistics:
    1. For the Virtual Servers setting, click Add. A popup lists the virtual servers that you can assign to the Analytics profile.
    2. From the Select Virtual Server popup list, select the virtual servers to include and click Done.
    Note: You need to have previously configured the virtual servers (with an HTTP profile) for them to appear in the list. Also, you can assign only one Analytics profile to a virtual server so the list shows only virtual servers that have not been assigned an Analytics profile.
    Special considerations apply if using Analytics on a BIG-IP system with both Application Security Manager™ and Access Policy Manager™, where security settings (in Portal Access webtop or an iRule) redirect traffic from one virtual server to a second one. In this case, you need to attach the Analytics profile to the second virtual server to ensure that the charts show accurate statistics.
  10. In the Statistics Gathering Configuration, for Collected Metrics, select the statistics you want the system to collect:
    Option Description
    Server Latency Tracks how long it takes to get data from the application server to the BIG-IP system (selected by default).
    Page Load Time Tracks how long it takes an application user to get a complete response from the application, including network latency and completed page processing.
    Note: End user response times and latencies can vary significantly based on geography and connection types.
    Throughput Saves information about HTTP request and response throughput (selected by default).
    User Sessions Stores the number of unique user sessions. For Timeout, type the number of minutes of user non-activity to allow before the system considers the session to be over. If using transaction sampling, this option is not available.
  11. For Collected Entities, select the entities for which you want the system to collect statistics:
    Option Description
    URLs Collects the requested URLs.
    Countries Saves the name of the country where the request came from based on the client IP address.
    Client IP Addresses Saves the IP address where the request originated. The address saved also depends on whether the request has an XFF (X-forwarded-for) header and whether Trust XFF is selected.
    Response Codes Saves HTTP response codes that the server returned to requesters (selected by default).
    User Agents Saves information about browsers used when making the request.
    Methods Saves HTTP methods in requests (selected by default).
  12. If one of the Traffic Capturing Logging Type check boxes is selected, in the Capture Filter area, adjust the settings to specify criteria to determine what application traffic to capture.
    Tip: You can use the captured information for troubleshooting purposes.
  13. Click Finished.
The BIG-IP system collects statistics regarding application traffic described by the Analytics profile and stores the statistics on a separate remote management system, where you can view the information.

Configuring application performance alerts

Before you can configure the system to send alerts concerning statistics, you need to have created an Analytics profile to collect application statistics locally (Statistics Logging Type must have Internal selected). To set up e-mail alerts, the default analytics profile must specify an SMTP configuration.
You can configure the BIG-IP® system to send alerts concerning local application statistics based on threshold values that you set. The system sends notifications when threshold values are breached, and when they return to normal. Therefore, it is a good idea to get familiar with the typical statistics for the web application before attempting to set up alerts and notifications. When you understand the typical values, you can configure the system to alert you of limiting system situations, such as system overload.
Note: End user response times and latencies can vary significantly based on geography and connection types, which makes it difficult to set an accurate alerting threshold for page load times.
  1. On the Main tab, click Local Traffic > Profiles > Analytics.
    Tip: If Analytics is not listed, you need to provision Application Visibility and Reporting (AVR) first.
    The Profiles: Analytics screen opens.
  2. Click the name of a previously created Analytics profile, or create a new one.
  3. For the Statistics Logging Type, ensure that the Internal check box is selected. If you also want external logging, click External and fill in the remote server fields.
  4. To send email alerts, specify an SMTP Configuration (this can only be done on the default analytics profile). If you created a new profile, configure SMTP later.
  5. For the Notification Type setting, select the appropriate check boxes to determine the type of notification and where you want to receive it:
    To Send Alerts Like This Do This
    Local BIG-IP syslog ( System > Logs > Local Traffic ) Select Syslog. The alerts are logged in the /var/log/ltm file.
    Remote syslog server Select Syslog. You must configure the remote syslog server on the BIG-IP system (refer to the BIG-IP documentation for details).
    SNMP traps sent to an external SNMP receiver Select SNMP. If you need to configure SNMP, wait until after you finish creating alerts.

    The system selects both Syslog and SNMP.

    E-mail Select E-mail.

    To send email alerts, you need to configure the BIG-IP system to communicate with a mail server.

  6. In the Alerts and Notifications Configuration area, for the Add New Rule setting, define the rules that determine when the system sends alerts. Note that you cannot add overlapping rules, for example, two rules that request an alert when average TPS is greater than 100 and greater than 50 for 200 seconds.
    1. For Alert when, select the condition under which you want to send an alert.
    2. Select below or above, type an integer that represents the threshold value, and type the number of seconds (an integer) that the rule has to apply.
    3. Select the granularity level to which the threshold applies: traffic sent to an Application, a Virtual Server, or a Pool Member.
    4. Click Add. The rule is added to the list of Active Rules.
    Continue to add as many rules as you want to specify conditions under which you want to be alerted.
  7. Click Update.
  8. If SNMP is not configured on the BIG-IP system and you want to send SNMP traps, configure it now:
    1. In the General Configuration area, for the Notification Type setting, next to SNMP, click the link. The SNMP Traps Destination screen opens.
    2. Click Create.
    3. Configure the version, community name, destination IP address, and port.
    4. Click Finished.
  9. If you need to configure SMTP (if sending alerts by e-mail), click the default analytics profile on the Profiles: Analytics screen.
    1. For SMTP Configuration, select a configuration.
    2. If no SMTP configurations are listed, click the here link to create one. When you are done, you need to select the configuration you created in the the default analytics profile.
Based on the rules you configured and the notification type, the system sends an alert when thresholds are breached and when they cross back from the threshold.

Creating an SMTP configuration

If you want the BIG-IP system to send email or alerts, you need to create an SMTP server configuration.
  1. On the Main tab, click System > Configuration > Device > SMTP.
  2. Click Create. The New SMTP Configuration screen opens.
  3. In the Name field, type a name for the SMTP configuration.
  4. In the SMTP Server Host Name field, type the IP address or the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the SMTP server. If using the FQDN, make sure the DNS server is on the DNS lookup server list, and configure the DNS server on the BIG-IP system ( System > Configuration > Device > DNS ).
  5. In the SMTP Server Port Number field, type the port number used for the SMTP server. Typically, the default SMTP port numbers are 25 (unencrypted or TLS), 465 (SSL encrypted), or 587 (TLS encrypted).
  6. In the Local Host Name field, type the host name used in SMTP headers in the format of an FQDN; for example, bigip.net. This setting does not refer to the host name of the BIG-IP system.
  7. In the From Address field, type the email address that the email is being sent from. This is the address that the recipient sees. Because the BIG-IP system does not accept reply email, use either a valid email address or a from address such as do-not-reply@bigip.net.
  8. To encrypt traffic between the BIG-IP system and the SMTP server, for Encrypted Connection, select the type of encryption, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security).
  9. To require authentication on the SMTP server, for Use Authentication, select the Enabled check box, and type the user name and password.
  10. Click Finish.
The SMTP configuration you created is now available for use. For example, you can use it when emailing statistics.
After you create the SMTP configuration, you need to specify it in the appropriate profile. You can create more than one SMTP configuration, if needed.
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