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Manual Chapter: Getting Started with BIG-IP Virtual Edition
Manual Chapter
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What is BIG-IP Virtual Edition?

BIG-IP® Virtual Edition (VE) is a version of the BIG-IP system that runs as a virtual machine in specifically-supported hypervisors. BIG-IP VE creates a virtual instance of a hardware-based BIG-IP system running a VE-compatible version of BIG-IP® software.

Note: The BIG-IP VE product license determines the maximum allowed throughput rate. To view this rate limit, you can display the BIG-IP VE licensing page within the BIG-IP Configuration utility. Lab editions have no guarantee of throughput rate and are not supported for production environments.

About BIG-IP VE compatibility with VMware hypervisor products

Each time there is a new release of BIG-IP® Virtual Edition (VE) software, it includes support for additional hypervisor management products. The Virtual Edition and Supported Hypervisors Matrix on the AskF5™ website,, details which hypervisors are supported for each release.

Important: Hypervisors other than those identified in the matrix are not supported with this BIG-IP version; installation attempts on unsupported platforms might not be successful.

About the hypervisor guest definition requirements

The VMware virtual machine guest environment for the BIG-IP® Virtual Edition (VE), at minimum, must include:

  • 2 x virtual CPUs
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 1 x VMXNET3 virtual network adapter or Flexible virtual network adapter (for management)
  • 1 x virtual VMXNET3 virtual network adapter (three are configured in the default deployment for dataplane network access)
  • SCSI disk storage; download the image size that provides sufficient space to meet your requirements. An optional secondary disk might also be required as a datastore for specific BIG-IP modules. For information about datastore requirements, refer to the BIG-IP module's documentation.
Note: Refer to Increasing the disk space allotted to the BIG-IP virtual machine for details on changing the disk size after initial download.
Important: You must supply at least the minimum virtual configuration limits to avoid unexpected results.

For production licenses, F5 Networks suggests using the maximum configuration limits for the BIG-IP VE system. For lab editions, required reserves can be less. For each virtual machine, the VMware virtual machine guest environment permits a maximum of 10 virtual network adapters (either 10 VMXNET3 with 1 management + 9 dataplane or 1 Flexible management + 9 VMXNET3 dataplane).

There are also some maximum configuration limits to consider for deploying a BIG-IP VE virtual machine, such as:

  • CPU reservation can be up to 100 percent of the defined virtual machine hardware. For example, if the hypervisor has a 3 GHz core speed, the reservation of a virtual machine with 2 CPUs can be only 6 GHz or less.
  • To achieve licensing performance limits, all allocated RAM must be reserved.
  • For production environments, virtual disks should be deployed Thick (allocated up front). Thin deployments are acceptable for lab environments.
Important: There is no longer any limitation on the maximum amount of RAM supported on the hypervisor guest.
Disk space guidelines

This table details the capabilities and limitations of the disk space options you can choose.

Provisioned disk space Capabilities and Limitations Special Considerations
7 GB The Local Traffic Manager (LTM®) module is supported, but there is no space available for installing LTM upgrades. Disk space can be increased if you need upgrade LTM, or decide to provision additional modules.
31 GB The LTM module is supported. There is also sufficient space available for installing LTM upgrades. Disk space can be increased if you decide to provision additional modules. You can also install another instance of LTM on a separate partition.
104 GB (OS only) or 124 GB (with Datastore) All modules and combinations are supported. There is also sufficient space available for installing upgrades. If you plan to use the Acceleration Module (AM) in addition to other modules, you must add a second 20 GB disk in addition to the 104 GB operating system disk used by the other modules. The 20 GB volume serves as a dedicated Datastore for AM. Do not use this volume for any other purpose. If you need additional space, increase the disk space allotted to this VE. For information on configuring the Datastore volume, refer to Disk Management for Datastore published on the AskF5™ web site,
Guest memory guidelines

The general memory requirement recommendation for BIG-IP® Virtual Edition (VE) is 2 GB per virtual CPU. Additionally, the following memory guidelines may be helpful in setting expectations, based on which modules are licensed on VE guests.

Provisioned memory Supported module combinations Module specific concerns
12 GB or more All module combinations are fully supported. N/A
8 GB Provisioning more than three modules together is not supported. GTM™ and Link Controller™ do not count toward the module-combination limit.
More than 4 GB, but less than 8 GB Provisioning more than three modules together is not supported. (See module-specific concerns relating to AAM.)

Application Acceleration Manager™ (AAM) cannot be provisioned with any other module; AAM™ can only be provisioned as standalone.

GTM and Link Controller do not count toward the module-combination limit.

4 GB or less Provisioning more than two modules together is not supported. AAM can only be provisioned as dedicated.

About TCP Segmentation Offloading support

If you want to disable support for TCP Segmentation Offloading (TSO), you must submit a tmsh command, because the TSO feature is enabled by default. Note that enabling TSO support also enables support for large receive offload (LRO) and Jumbo Frames.

Configuring a hypervisor for TSO support

You must have the Admin user role to enable or disable TSO support for a hypervisor.

Using the tmsh command sys db, you can turn TSO support on, off, or check to see whether support is currently enabled.
  1. To determine whether TSO support is currently enabled, use the tmsh show command.
    show sys db tm.tcpsegmentationoffload
  2. To enable support for TSO, use the tmsh enable command.
    sys db tm.tcpsegmentationoffload enable
  3. To disable support for TSO, use the tmsh disable command.
    sys db tm.tcpsegmentationoffload disable

About SR-IOV support

If you want support for SR-IOV, in addition to using the correct hardware and BIOS settings, you must configure hypervisor settings before you set up the guests.

Configuring a hypervisor for SR-IOV support
You must have an SR-IOV-compatible network interface card (NIC) installed and the SR-IOV BIOS enabled before you can configure SR-IOV support.

From the hypervisor console use esxcli (the vSphere command line interface tool) commands to set the system module parameters for max_vfs.

  1. Check to see what the ixgbe driver settings are currently.
    esxcli system module parameters list -m ixgbe
  2. Check to see what the ixgbe driver settings are currently.
    In this example, 16,16 is for a 2 port card with 16 virtual functions.
    esxcli system module parameters set -m ixgbe -p "max_vfs=16,16"
  3. Reboot the hypervisor so that the changes to take effect.
    When you next visit the user interface, the SR-IOV NIC will appear in the Settings area of the Guest as a PCI device.
  4. Using the VMware hypervisor user interface, add a PCI device, and then add two virtual functions.

    05:10.0 | Intel Corporation 82599 Ethernet Controller Virtual Function

    05:10.1 | Intel Corporation 82599 Ethernet Controller Virtual Function

  5. Use either the console command line or user interface to configure the VLANs that will serve as pass through devices for the virtual function. For each interface and VLAN combination, specify a name and a value.
    • Name - pciPassthru0.defaultVlan
    • Value - 3001
You can now power on the virtual machine and begin deploying it.
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