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Manual Chapter: Overview of the Global Traffic Manager
Manual Chapter
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You can use the BIG-IP® Global Traffic Manager system to monitor the availability and performance of global resources and use 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.
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 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®.
When you install a Global Traffic Manager system on the network, the actions you take to integrate it into the network fall into two categories: setup tasks and configuration tasks.
Setup tasks are tasks in which you create or modify settings that apply to the Global Traffic Manager itself, or that apply universally to all other configuration components, such as servers, data centers, or wide IPs that you create later. Examples of setup tasks include running the Setup utility, assigning self IP address, and enabling high-availability functions. For more information about setup tasks, see Setting up the Global Traffic Manager.
Configuration tasks are tasks in which you define a specific aspect of the Global Traffic Manager, such as load balancing methods, pools and pool members, or iRules. These configuration tasks, while important, only affect specific aspects of how you manage DNS traffic with the Global Traffic Manager. For more information about the components of the Global Traffic Manager that you can configure, see Configuring the Global Traffic Manager.
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 web server, which hosts the web-based Configuration utility, supports SSL connections as well as user authentication.
Secure iQuery® communications
The Global Traffic Manager supports web certificate authentication for iQuery communications between itself and other systems running the big3d agent.
TCP wrappers
The Global Traffic Manager supports the use of TCP wrappers to provide an extra layer of security for network connections.
If you use the Global Traffic Manager in conjunction with a Local Traffic Manager, it is important to understand the following network resources. You do not manage these resources 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 concept does not apply to the management IP address of a BIG-IP system or to IP addresses on other devices.
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 Manager.
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.
You can use the proprietary SNMP agent 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 synchronization feature offers a high degree of administrative control by allowing you to automatically synchronize configurations from one Global Traffic Manager to any other Global Traffic Manager or Link Controller in the network; thus, simplifying administrative management. For example, you can set the Global Traffic Manager to synchronize a specific configuration to specific systems on the network.
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. The agent 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 Networks products, including the Global Traffic Manager, Local Traffic Manager, and Link Controller. Each big3d agent broadcasts its collected data to all of the Global Traffic Manager systems and Link Controller systems in your network, ensuring that all Global Traffic Manager systems 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, see Appendix A, Working with the big3d Agent.
A redundant system configuration is a set of two Global Traffic Manager systems: 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.
The Global Traffic Manager supports two methods of checking the status of the peer system in a redundant system configuration:
Hardware-based failover
In a redundant system configuration 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 configuration 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 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 Welcome screen of the Configuration utility provides convenient access to downloads such as the SNMP MIB, and documentation for third-party applications, such as ZebOS®.
For the most current list of the supported browsers for the Configuration utility, see the current release note on the AskF5 Knowledge Base web site,
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.
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