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Manual Chapter: Synchronizing Access Policies
Manual Chapter
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Overview: Syncing access policies with a Sync-Only device group

This implementation describes how to sync access policies from one BIG-IP® Access Policy Manager® device to another Access Policy Manager device, or to multiple devices in a device group. This allows you to maintain up-to-date access policies on multiple Access Policy Manager devices, while adjusting appropriate settings for objects that are specific to device locations.

To synchronize access policies between multiple devices, you configure a Sync-Only device group, which includes the devices between which you want to synchronize access policies. Device group setup requires establishing trust relationships between devices and creating a device group. You set the devices in each group to use Automatic Sync and Full Sync, and then synchronize access policies one at a time, resolving conflicts as you go.

Important: You must restrict a Sync-Only device group that you will use to sync access policies to no more than 5 members.
Important: Sync-Only groups must be configured before you pair Active-Standby devices. To add an Active-Standby device pair to a Sync-Only device group, first you must reset the trust between the devices. Next, you must remove the devices from the Sync-Failover device group. Next, you must add both devices to a Sync-Only device group. Finally, add the devices as an Active-Standby pair to the Sync-Failover group.

Understanding policy sync for Active-Standby pairs

Policy sync during ConfigSync for Active-Standby pairAccess policy synchronization in Sync-Only and Sync-Failover device groups

Before you configure device trust

Before you configure device trust, you should consider the following:

  • Only version 11.x or later systems can join the local trust domain.
  • You can manage device trust when logged in to a certificate signing authority only. You cannot manage device trust when logged in to a subordinate non-authority device.
  • If you reset trust authority on a certificate signing authority by retaining the authority of the device, you must subsequently recreate the local trust domain and the device group.
  • As a best practice, you should configure the ConfigSync and mirroring addresses on a device before you add that device to the trust domain.
  • You must configure DNS on all systems.
  • You must configure NTP on all systems, preferably to the same NTP server.

Establishing device trust

Before you begin this task, verify that:

  • Each BIG-IP® device that is to be part of the local trust domain has a device certificate installed on it.
  • The local device is designated as a certificate signing authority.

You perform this task to establish trust among devices on one or more network segments. Devices that trust each other constitute the local trust domain. A device must be a member of the local trust domain prior to joining a device group.

By default, the BIG-IP software includes a local trust domain with one member, which is the local device. You can choose any one of the BIG-IP devices slated for a device group and log into that device to add other devices to the local trust domain. For example, devices Bigip_1, Bigip_2, and Bigip_3 each initially shows only itself as a member of the local trust domain. To configure the local trust domain to include all three devices, you can simply log into device Bigip_1 and add devices Bigip_2 and Bigip_3 to the local trust domain; there is no need to repeat this process on devices Bigip_2 and Bigip_3.

  1. On the Main tab, click Device Management > Device Trust, and then either Peer List or Subordinate List.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Type a device IP address, administrator user name, and administrator password for the remote BIG-IP® device with which you want to establish trust. The IP address you specify depends on the type of BIG-IP device:
    • If the BIG-IP device is an appliance, type the management IP address for the device.
    • If the BIG-IP device is a VIPRION® device that is not licensed and provisioned for vCMP®, type the primary cluster management IP address for the cluster.
    • If the BIG-IP device is a VIPRION device that is licensed and provisioned for vCMP, type the cluster management IP address for the guest.
    • If the BIG-IP device is an Amazon Web Services EC2 device, type one of the Private IP addresses created for this EC2 instance.
  4. Click Retrieve Device Information.
  5. Verify that the certificate of the remote device is correct.
  6. Verify that the management IP address and name of the remote device are correct.
  7. Click Finished.
After you perform this task, the local device is now a member of the local trust domain. Also, the BIG-IP system automatically creates a special Sync-Only device group for the purpose of synchronizing trust information among the devices in the local trust domain, on an ongoing basis.
Repeat this task to specify each device that you want to add to the local trust domain.

Creating a Sync-Only device group for access policy sync

You perform this task to create a Sync-Only type of device group. When you create a Sync-Only device group, the BIG-IP® system can then automatically synchronize certain types of data such as security policies to the other devices in the group, even when some of those devices reside in another network. You can perform this task on any BIG-IP device within the local trust domain.
Important: When you sync access policies from one device to another, you can only select a device group to which to sync an access policy, if the device group is configured with the settings specified in this task.
  1. On the Main tab, click Device Management > Device Groups.
  2. On the Device Groups list screen, click Create. The New Device Group screen opens.
  3. Type a name for the device group, select the device group type Sync-Only, and type a description for the device group.
  4. For the Members setting, select an IP address and host name from the Available list for each BIG-IP device that you want to include in the device group. Use the Move button to move the host name to the Includes list. The list shows any devices that are members of the device's local trust domain.
  5. Required: Select the Automatic Sync check box.
  6. Required: Select the Full Sync check box.
  7. Click Finished.
You now have a Sync-Only type of device group containing BIG-IP devices as members.
Important: Active-Standby devices must be added to a separate Sync-Only device groups must be configured before you pair Active-Standby devices. To add an Active-Standby device pair to a Sync-Only device group, first reset the trust between the devices. Next, remove the devices from the Sync-Failover device group. Then add both devices to a Sync-Only device group. Finally, add the devices as an Active-Standby pair to the Sync-Failover group.

Synchronizing an access policy across devices initially

After you set up a sync-only device group for your Access Policy Manager devices, you can sync an access policy from one device to other devices in the group. You can perform an access policy sync from any device in the group.
  1. On the Main tab, click Access Policy > Access Profiles > Policy Sync. A list of access policies and related sync status information opens. The sync status is either:
    Policies with no sync pending
    No synchronization is currently in progress for access policies on this list.
    Policies with sync pending
    A synchronization is in progress for these access policies. Select an access policy from this list to view the Sync Details or Resolve Conflicts panel for it.
  2. Select an access policy and click the Sync Access Policy button. The Policy Sync screen opens.
  3. From the Device Group list, select the device group to which to sync the access policy. This list displays only Sync-Only device groups with automatic sync and full sync enabled.
  4. In the Description field, type a description of the reason for the access policy sync operation.
  5. From the Ignore errors due to Variable Assign Agent during sync list, select whether to ignore errors caused by syncing the variable assign agent.
    Note: If the access policy includes a Variable Assign action, errors occur when resources are missing from the target device. If you select Yes, you might need to manually configure the resources on the target device.
  6. Click Sync. The sync process begins.
The access policy is synced between devices in the device group.
Important: An access policy sync operation takes 25-30 seconds, depending on the number of devices.

Configuring static resources with access policy sync

A BIG-IP® Access Policy Manager® might exist in a different physical location from another BIG-IP in the same device group, and might use different resources that are specific to that location or local network. For example, different authentication servers might exist in each location. Configure static resources to set these static resources for devices in different locations.
  1. On the Main tab, click Access Policy > Access Profiles > Policy Sync. If policies are present and configured for sync, a list of access policies and related sync status information opens.
  2. Select an access policy and click the Sync Access Policy button. The Policy Sync screen opens.
  3. Click the Advanced Settings button, then click Static Resources. The list displays a name, type, and Location Specific check box for each resource. You might need to configure a location-specific resource differently on a remote system. With the Location Specific check box selected, the first time a resource is synced as part of a policy, you must resolve its configuration on the remote system. Subsequent access policy sync operations do not modify a previously synced location-specific resource.
    Important: Many resource types are marked as location-specific by default. If a resource is not location-specific in this configuration, clear the Location Specific check box.
  4. Click the OK button. The APM Policy Sync screen is displayed.
  5. Click the Sync button.
The access policy is synced between devices in the device group.
If this is the first time you sync a policy with location-specific resources, or you have added location-specific resources to the policy sync operation, you must resolve the location-specific issues on each affected target system.

Configuring dynamic resources with access policy sync

When access policies are configured with the Variable Assign action, some dynamically assigned resources might not be available on sync target machines. You can specify that such resources are included in a policy sync operation and will be created on the target devices.
  1. On the Main tab, click Access Policy > Access Profiles > Policy Sync. A list of access policies and related sync status information opens.
  2. Select an access policy and click the Sync Access Policy button. The Policy Sync screen opens.
  3. Click the Advanced Settings button, then click Dynamic Resources. The list displays a name, type, Dynamic Resource, and Location Specific check box for each resource.
  4. Select the dynamic resources by clicking the check boxes.
  5. Click the OK button. The APM Policy Sync screen is displayed.
  6. Click the Sync button.
The access policy is synced between devices in the device group.
Resolve the location-specific issues on each affected target system.

Resolving access policy sync conflicts

After you sync an access policy, you might need to resolve conflicts on the target devices. Conflicts occur when an access policy contains new location-specific resources.
  1. On a target system that requires conflicts to be resolved, on the Main tab, click Access Policy > Access Profiles > Policy Sync. A list of access policies and related sync status information opens.
  2. From the Policies with Sync Pending list, select an access policy for which you want to resolve conflicts. If conflicts exist, the Resolve Conflicts panel displays one entry and an Unresolved link for each location-specific or dynamic resource that is in conflict.
  3. Click an Unresolved link. A popup window opens displaying two panes.
    • A navigation pane with one or more groups of settings. In the navigation pane, an icon indicates that data is required.
    • A data entry pane in which you can type or select values. The data entry pane displays the values from the source device, with labels for required fields asterisked (*) and filled with yellow.
  4. Select a group of settings from the left pane, and type or select the required information in the right pane until you have added the required information. You can fill in the required information only, or any other information and settings you wish to configure. In the navigation pane, an icon indicates that required information for a group of settings is complete.
  5. Click the OK button. The popup window closes. If no more Unresolved links remain, the Finish button is active.
  6. After you resolve all conflicts, click the Finish button.
Access Policy Manager creates the resolved access policy on the device. After sync is completed on all target devices, sync status on the source device will be updated to Sync completed.

About ignoring errors due to the Variable Assign agent

The Ignore errors due to Variable Assign Agent during sync setting affects system behavior only when a Variable Assign agent is included in an access policy, and the Variable Assign agent uses resources.

Important: The user name and password fields are not considered to be resources.

If you set Ignore errors due to Variable Assign Agent during sync to Yes:

  • If you do not select any dynamic resources, after the policy sync completes you must create all needed resources on each target system.
  • If you select the appropriate dynamic resources, after the policy sync completes, you must resolve any conflicts that exist on the target systems. If you do not select all the dynamic resources that are required, you must create them on each target system.

If you set Ignore errors due to Variable Assign Agent during sync to No:

  • If you do not select any dynamic resources, an error is displayed and the policy sync does not start.
  • If you select the appropriate dynamic resources, after the policy sync completes, you must resolve any conflicts that exist on the target systems.

Implementation result

To summarize, you now have synchronized access policies between devices in a sync-only device group.

Understanding sync details

On the Sync Details tab, you can see sync status for an access policy.

Column Description
Device The specific device to which the access policy was synced.
Sync Status One of the following:
  • Sync initiated - This status indicates that the sync is in progress, initiated from this device.
  • Sync Completed - This status indicates that the sync completed successfully to the specified device.
  • Not available - This status indicates that the device to which the sync was initiated was not available, or not available yet.
  • Sync cancelled - This status indicates that the sync was cancelled before it could complete to the specified device.
  • User Changes Failed - This status indicates that policy creation failed after the administrator resolved the conflicts. Sync success is set to Standby.
  • Pending location specific updates - This status indicates that the access policy on the specified device requires updates because of conflicts due to location-specific information. Resolve the conflicts to complete the sync successfully.
Status End Time The time at which the last status entry completed on the specific device.
Sync Status Details More information about the Sync Status for a specific device.

Understanding sync history

On the Sync History tab, you can see the sync history for an access policy.

Column Description
Last sync The last time a sync was initiated for this access policy.
Last Sync Status The outcome of the last sync for this access policy.
Device Group The device group to which the access policy was synced.
Description A clickable icon that presents information about the sync operation for the device group.
Non Location Specific Objects An access policy was created with certain resources which the sync process indicates are not location-specific, but that might in fact be location-specific on the target device. This column lists such objects, which you can then verify by checking the objects on the remote systems, and modifying if necessary.
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