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Manual Chapter: Introducing the Global Traffic Manager
Manual Chapter
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The BIG-IP® Global Traffic Manager is a system that monitors the availability and performance of global resources and uses that information to manage network traffic patterns. The Global Traffic Manager uses load balancing algorithms, topology-based routing, and iRules® to control and distribute traffic according to specific policies.
The Global Traffic Manager is one of several products that constitute the BIG-IP product family. All products in the BIG-IP product family run on the powerful Traffic Management Operating System, commonly referred to as TMOS®.
Additionally, F5 Networks recommends that before you configure the Global Traffic Manager, you read the following guides that are available in PDF format from the F5 Technical Support web site, https://support.f5.com. These guides are also available from the first web page you see when you log on to the administrative web server on the BIG-IP system.
Configuration Worksheet
This worksheet provides you with a place to plan the basic configuration for the BIG-IP system.
BIG-IP® Systems: Getting Started Guide
This guide provides detailed information about installing upgrades to the BIG-IP system. It also provides information about licensing the BIG-IP system software, and connecting the system to a management workstation or network.
TMOS® Management Guide for BIG-IP® Systems
This guide contains any information you need to configure and maintain the network and system-related components for the BIG-IP sysetm. With this guide, you can perform tasks such as configuring routes and VLANs, assigning self IP addresses, creating administrative user accounts, and managing a redundant system.
Configuration Guide for BIG-IP® Local Traffic Management
This guide contains any information you need for configuring the BIG-IP system to manage local network traffic. With this guide, you can perform tasks such as creating virtual servers and load balancing pools, configuring application and persistence profiles, implementing health monitors, and setting up remote authentication.
BIG-IP® Local Traffic Manager: Implementations
This guide contains complete procedures for implementing specific goals, such as processing SSL traffic with data compression, or assigning privileges to remotely-authenticated user accounts. This guide ties together the detailed information contained in the Configuration Guide for BIG-IP® Local Traffic Management to help you implement specific traffic-management configurations.
Bigpipe Utility Reference Guide
This guides contains all command and syntax information for the bigpipe utility, including the bigpipe shell.
Traffic Management Shell (tmsh) Reference Guide
This guide contains all command and syntax information for the Traffic Management Shell.
The Global Traffic Manager is highly configurable. You can configure the system and manage global traffic using either the web-based Configuration utility or the Traffic Management Shell (tmsh).
Ensure wide-area persistence by maintaining a mapping between a local DNS server and a virtual server in a wide IP pool
The Global Traffic Manager manages multiple resources within your network. Each resource represents either a physical presence, such as a server, or a logical presence, such as a wide IP. Effective management of your network traffic requires that you understand and configure these resources correctly.
Virtual server
A virtual server, in the context of the Global Traffic Manager, is a combination of an IP address and a port number that, together, provide access to an application or data source on your network. These combinations are called virtual servers because they might span more than one physical machine, or might be a subset of available ports on a single machine.
Server
A server is a physical device that manages one or more virtual servers. An example of a server is a Local Traffic Manager; however, the Global Traffic Manager can manage other server types as well, such as a Windows® 2000 Server.
Listener
To manage your network traffic, the Global Traffic Manager requires that you configure an additional resource: a listener. A listener is an object that listens for DNS queries. The listener instructs the Global Traffic Manager to listen for network traffic destined for a specific IP address. Listeners are critical for the Global Traffic Manager; without them, the Global Traffic Manager does not know what traffic it must manage and what traffic it can safely ignore.
Link
A link is a logical representation of a physical device (router) that connects your network to the rest of the Internet. You can logically attach links to a collection of servers in order to manage access to your data sources.
Data center
A data center is a logical collection of both servers and links. Typically, data centers represent devices that reside in a physical location.
Pool
A pool is a collection of virtual servers that can reside on multiple network servers. The Global Traffic Manager uses pools to load balance incoming network traffic across multiple virtual servers. This provides you with significant load balancing granularity, because you can load balance traffic across multiple pools of virtual servers, and then direct it to a specific virtual server in the selected pool.
Wide IP
A wide IP is a mapping of a fully-qualified domain name to one or more pools of virtual servers that host the domains content. Through the use of wide IPs, you can load balance network traffic between multiple pools.
Distributed application
A distributed application is a collection of wide IPs, data centers, and links, and is the highest-level component that the Global Traffic Manager supports. You can configure the availability of distributed applications to be dependent on a specific data center, link, or server. For example, if you configure a distributed application to have its availability depend on a link, and that link goes down, the Global Traffic Manager considers the application to be unavailable.
Through the configuration of wide IPs and pools, you can use the Global Traffic Manager to load balance across a collection of resources, while distributed applications, data centers, and servers give you visibility into the performance and availability of these sources.
If you use the Global Traffic Manager in conjunction with a Local Traffic Manager, you might also want to familiarize yourself with the following additional network resources. These resources are not managed directly through the Global Traffic Manager, but understanding their role in your network configuration can assist you in optimizing your networks availability and performance:
Self IP address
A self IP address is an IP address that you define on a VLAN of a BIG-IP system. Note that this term does not apply to either the management IP address of a BIG-IP system or to IP addresses on other devices.
Node
A node is a logical object on the BIG-IP system that identifies the IP address of a physical resource on the network, such as a web server. You define a node object in the Local Traffic Manager. For more information about nodes, see the Configuring Nodes chapter in the Configuration Guide for BIG-IP® Local Traffic Management.
The Global Traffic Manager supports both the standard DNS protocol and the BIG-IP iQuery® protocol (a protocol used for collecting dynamic load balancing information). The Global Traffic Manager also supports administrative protocols, such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) (outbound only), for performance monitoring and notification of system events. For administrative purposes, you can use SSH, RSH, Telnet, and FTP. The Configuration utility supports HTTPS, for secure web browser connections using SSL, as well as standard HTTP connections.
The proprietary Global Traffic Manager SNMP agent allows you to monitor status and current traffic flow using popular network management tools. This agent provides detailed data such as current connections being handled by each virtual server.
The Global Traffic Manager offers a variety of security features that can help prevent hostile attacks on your site or equipment.
Secure administrative connections
The Global Traffic Manager supports Secure Shell (SSH) administrative connections for remote administration from the command line. The Global Traffic Manager web server, which hosts the web-based Configuration utility, supports SSL connections as well as user authentication.
Secure iQuery communications
The Global Traffic Manager also supports web certificate authentication for iQuery communications between the Global Traffic Manager and other systems running the big3d agent.
TCP wrappers
TCP wrappers provide an extra layer of security for network connections.
The Global Traffic Manager is a highly scalable and versatile solution. You can configure the Global Traffic Manager to manage up to several hundred domain names, including full support of domain name aliases. The Global Traffic Manager supports a variety of media options, including Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet; the Global Traffic Manager also supports multiple network interface cards that can provide redundant or alternate paths to the network.
The Global Traffic Manager synchronization feature allows you to automatically synchronize configurations from one Global Traffic Manager to any other Global Traffic Manager or Link Controller in the network, simplifying administrative management. The synchronization feature offers a high degree of administrative control. For example, you can set the Global Traffic Manager to synchronize a specific configuration, and you can also set which Global Traffic Manager or Link Controller in the network receives the synchronized information and which ones do not.
The Global Traffic Manager includes the big3d agent, which is an integral part of its load balancing operations. The big3d agent continually monitors the availability of the servers that the Global Traffic Manager load balances. It also monitors the integrity of the network paths between the servers that host the domain, and the various local DNS servers that attempt to connect to the domain. The big3d agent runs on many of the F5 products, including Global Traffic Manager, Local Traffic Manager, and Link Controller. Each big3d agent broadcasts its collected data to all of the Global Traffic Managers and Link Controllers in your network, ensuring that all Global Traffic Managers work with the latest information.
The big3d agent offers a variety of configuration options that allow you to choose the data collection methods you want to use. For example, you can configure the big3d agent to track the number of router hops (intermediate system transitions) along a given network path, and you can also set the big3d agent to collect host server performance information using the SNMP protocol. For further details on the big3d agent, refer to Appendix A, Working with the big3d Agent.
A redundant system is a set of two Global Traffic Managers: one operating as the active unit, the other operating as the standby unit. If the active unit goes offline, the standby unit immediately assumes responsibility for managing DNS traffic. The new active unit remains active until another event occurs that causes the unit to go offline, or you manually reset the status of each unit.
Hardware-based failover
In a redundant system that has been set up with hardware-based failover, the two units in the system are connected to each other directly using a failover cable attached to the serial ports. The standby unit checks on the status of the active unit once every second using this serial link.
Network-based failover
In a redundant system that has been set up with network-based failover, the two units in the system communicate with each other across an Ethernet network instead of across a dedicated failover serial cable. Using the Ethernet connection, the standby unit checks on the status of the active unit once every second.
Note: In a network-based failover configuration, the standby Global Traffic Manager immediately takes over if the active unit fails. If a client has queried the failed Global Traffic Manager, and has not received an answer, it automatically re-issues the request (after five seconds) and the standby unit, functioning as the active unit, responds.
The Global Traffic Manager includes sophisticated monitoring tools to help you monitor the Global Traffic Manager and the traffic it manages. See Chapter 10, Configuring Monitors for more information.
The Configuration utility is a browser-based graphical user interface that you use to configure and monitor the Global Traffic Manager. Using the Configuration utility, you can define the load balancing configuration along with the network setup, including data centers, synchronization groups, and servers used for load balancing and path probing. In addition, you can configure advanced features, such as Topology mode settings and SNMP agents. The Configuration utility also monitors network traffic, current connections, load balancing statistics, performance metrics, and the operating system itself. The home screen of the Configuration utility provides convenient access to downloads such as the SNMP MIB, and documentation for third-party applications such as ZebOS®.
The navigation pane
This component is the left vertical pane of the Configuration utility. It contains the following tabs: the Main tab, which allows you to select the area of your network (global, local, and so on); the Help tab, which displays online help relevant to the main screen; and the Search tab, which allows you to search for specific pools and virtual servers.
The menu bar
The menu bar, which is below the identification and messages area, and above the body, provides links to the additional configuration objects within each major object. The content of this component changes depending on what you select on the Main tab in the navigation section.
The active screen
The main component of the Configuration utility is the active screen. The active screen changes depending on what you select on the Main tab in the navigation section. Through the active screen you configure the different aspects of the Global Traffic Manager.
For the most current list of the supported browers for the Configuration utility, refer to the current release note on the AskF5 Knowledge Base web site, https://support.f5.com.
The Traffic Management Shell (tmsh) is a utility that you can use to configure the Global Traffic Manager from the command line. Using tmsh, you can set up your network and configure local and global traffic management. In addition, you can configure advanced features, such as Topology mode settings and SNMP agents. You can also use tmsh to display information about performance, load balancing decisions, network traffic, and the operating system itself. For information about using tmsh to configure the system, see the Traffic Management Shell (tmsh) Reference Guide.
The Configuration Guide for BIG-IP® Global Traffic Management is designed to help you understand how you can use the features of the Global Traffic Manager to accomplish the tasks associated with managing name resolution request on a global level. These tasks include tracking the performance of different servers and services and identifying the load balancing methods that best suit the needs of your company.
Important: F5 Networks recommends that you review the TMOS® Management Guide for BIG-IP® Systems to familiarize yourself with the basic functionality of BIG-IP systems. You can also review the Traffic Management Shell (tmsh) Reference Guide for information about configuring the Global Traffic Manager from the command line.
Introducing the Global Traffic Manager
This chapter provides an overview of the Global Traffic Manager and this guide.
Setting up the Global Traffic Manager
This chapter describes the basic tasks associated with setting up a Global Traffic Manager on the network.
Reviewing Global Traffic Manager Components
This chapter describes the physical and logical components you can use to manage your global DNS traffic.
Working with Listeners
This chapter describes how to configure listeners for the Global Traffic Manager. A listener instructs the Global Traffic Manager to listen for network traffic destined for a specific IP address.
Defining the Physical Network
This chapter describes how to define the physical components of your network, such as servers and data centers. You can use these components to determine load balancing modes and track traffic statistics.
Defining the Logical Network
This chapter describes how to define the logical components of your network, such as pools and wide IPs. These components determine how the Global Traffic Manager load balances requests.
Load Balancing with the Global Traffic Manager
This chapter describes the load balancing modes that the Global Traffic Manager supports, and how to apply those modes to your pools and wide IPs.
Managing Connections
This chapter describes how to use features such as connection persistence with the Global Traffic Manager.
Working with Topologies
This chapter describes topologies, which allow you to define load balancing modes and resolution controls based on the origin or destination of a given name resolution request.
Configuring Monitors
This chapter describes how to use monitors to track the components of your network. Monitors are components of the Global Traffic Manager that perform specific tests to see if a given component is available for load balancing.
Viewing Statistics
This chapter describes how to use the Global Traffic Manager to view statistics on the different physical and logical network components.
Collecting Metrics
This chapter describes how to use the Global Traffic Manager to gather metrics on the different physical and logical network components.
Viewing Performance Data
This chapter describes how to view information about how the Global Traffic Manager is performing.
Managing iRules
This chapter describes how to write iRules; scripts that allow you to fully customize the load balancing capabilities of the Global Traffic Manager.
Managing DNS Files with ZoneRunner
This chapter describes how to use ZoneRunner, a BIG-IP utility, to manage and maintain your DNS zone files.
Working with the big3d Agent
This appendix describes the big3d agent, a utility that is responsible for much of the communication between different BIG-IP systems.
Understanding Probes
This appendix describes how the Global Traffic Manager queries other network resources for statistical data.
To help you easily identify and understand certain types of information, this documentation uses the following stylistic conventions.
All examples in this documentation use only private 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 IP addresses.
When we first define a new term, the term is shown in bold italic text. For example, a wide IP is a mapping of a fully-qualified domain name to one or more pools of virtual servers that host the domains content.
We refer to all products in the BIG-IP product family as BIG-IP systems. We refer to the software modules by their name; for example, we refer to the Global Traffic Manager module as simply the Global Traffic Manager. If configuration information relates to a specific hardware platform, we note the platform.
We apply bold formatting 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, the nslookup command requires that you include at least one <ip_address> variable.
We use italic text to denote a reference to another document or section of a document. We use bold, italic text, to denote a reference to a book title. For example, you can find information about the Local Traffic Manager in Chapter 1, Introducing Local Traffic Management, in the Configuration Guide for BIG-IP® Local Traffic Management.
We show actual, 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 sets the Global Traffic Manager load balancing mode to Round Robin:
Table 1.1 explains additional special conventions used in command line syntax.
Online help for the Global Traffic Manager
The Configuration utility has online help for each screen. The online help contains descriptions of each control and setting on the screen. Click the Help tab in the left navigation pane to view the online help for a screen.
Welcome screen in the Configuration utility
The Welcome screen in the Configuration utility contains links to many useful web sites and resources, including the AskF5 Knowledge Base, the F5 Solution Center, the F5 DevCentral web site, plug-ins, SNMP MIBs, and SSH clients.
F5 Networks Technical Support web site
The F5 Technical Support web site, https://support.f5.com, provides the latest documentation for the product, including:
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