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Manual Chapter: BIG-IP version 9.2 - Solutions Guide for BIG-IP Traffic Management Systems: Introducing Solutions for BIG-IP System Traffic Management
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Introducing Solutions for BIG-IP System Traffic Management

Introducing the BIG-IP system

The BIG-IP® system is a port-based, multilayer switch that supports virtual local area network (VLAN) technology. Because hosts within a VLAN can communicate at the data-link layer (Layer 2), a BIG-IP system reduces the need for routers and IP routing on the network. This in turn reduces equipment costs and boosts overall network performance. At the same time, the BIG-IP system's multilayer capabilities enable the system to process traffic at other OSI layers. The BIG-IP system can perform IP routing at Layer 3, as well as manage TCP, UDP, and other application traffic at Layers 4 through 7. The following modules provide comprehensive traffic management and security for many traffic types. The modules are fully integrated to provide efficient solutions to meet any network, traffic management, and security needs.

  • BIG-IP® Local Traffic Manager
    The BIG-IP system includes local traffic management features that help make the most of network resources. Using the powerful Configuration utility, you can customize the way that the BIG-IP system processes specific types of protocol and application traffic. By using features such as virtual servers, pools, and profiles, you ensure that traffic passing through the BIG-IP system is processed quickly and efficiently, while meeting all of your security needs. For more information, see the Configuration Guide for Local Traffic Management.
  • BIG-IP® Global Traffic Manager
    The Global Traffic Manager provides intelligent traffic management to your globally available network resources. Through the Global Traffic Manager, you can select from an array of load balancing modes, ensuring that your clients access the most responsive and robust resources at any given time. In addition, the Global Traffic Manager provides extensive monitoring capabilities so the health of any given resource is always available. For more information, see the Configuration Guide for Global Traffic Management.
  • BIG-IP® Link Controller
    The Link Controller seamlessly monitors availability and performance of multiple WAN connections to intelligently manage bi-directional traffic flows to a site - providing fault tolerant, optimized Internet access regardless of connection type or provider. The Link Controller ensures that traffic is always sent over the best available link to maximize user performance and minimize bandwidth cost to a data center. For more information, see the Configuration Guide for the BIG-IP Link Controller.
  • BIG-IP®Application Security Module
    The Application Security Module provides web application protection from application-layer attacks. The Application Security Module protects Web applications from both generalized and targeted application layer attacks including buffer overflow, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and parameter tampering. For more information, see the Configuration Guide for the BIG-IP Application Security Module.

Introducing BIG-IP system solutions

In a typical configuration, the BIG-IP system functions as a device on the network, directing different types of protocol and application traffic to an appropriate destination server. The system accomplishes this by either forwarding the traffic directly to a load balancing server pool, or by sending it to a next-hop router or a pool of routers. The most basic configuration of the BIG-IP system includes two virtual local area networks (VLANs) with one or more BIG-IP interfaces (ports) assigned to each VLAN. Using the BIG-IP system's browser-based Configuration utility, you can implement many configuration scenarios simply by using the default VLAN configuration, and then creating BIG-IP system objects such as a customized virtual server, traffic profile, and load balancing pool.

Getting started

Before you begin configuring a solution, we recommend that you run the Setup utility on the BIG-IP system to configure basic network and network elements such as static and floating self IP addresses, interfaces, and VLANs.

After running the Setup utility, you can use this guide to implement specific configuration scenarios.

Before you begin configuring a solution, we recommend that you complete these tasks:

  • Choose a configuration tool.
  • Familiarize yourself with additional resources such as other BIG-IP system guides and online help.
  • Review the stylistic conventions that appear in this chapter.

Using the Configuration utility

All users need to use the web-based Configuration utility in order to license the system for the first time.

In addition to setting up the management network and initial traffic management software configuration, you use the Configuration utility to perform additional configuration steps necessary for your configuration.

The Configuration utility supports Netscape® Navigator™, version 7.1, or other browsers built on the same engine, such as Mozilla™, Firefox™, and Camino™; and Microsoft® Internet Explorer™ version 6.x and later.

For information on setting user preferences for the Configuration utility, see the BIG-IP® Network and System Management Guide.

About this guide

The chapters contained in this guide provide step-by-step procedures for implementing complete traffic management solutions. For example, Chapter 3, Basic Web Site and E-Commerce Configuration , describes how to configure the BIG-IP system objects that you need to set up an array of Web servers that process e-commerce traffic

Additional information

In addition to this guide, there are other sources of the documentation you can use in order to work with the BIG-IP system. The information is organized into the guides and documents described below. The following printed documentation is included with 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 Quick Start Instructions
    This pamphlet provides you with the basic configuration steps required to get the BIG-IP system up and running in the network.

The following guides are available in PDF format from the ISO image provided with the BIG-IP system. These guides are also available from the first Web page you see when you log in to the administrative web server on the BIG-IP system.

  • Platform Guide
    This guide includes information about the BIG-IP system. It also contains important environmental warnings.
  • Installation, Licensing, and Upgrades for BIG-IP Systems
    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.
  • BIG-IP® Network and System Management Guide
    This guide contains any information you need to configure and maintain the network and system-related components of the BIG-IP system. With this guide, you can perform tasks such as configuring VLANs, assigning self IP addresses, creating administrative user accounts, and managing a redundant system.
  • Configuration Guide for 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.

Stylistic conventions

To help you easily identify and understand important information, all of our documentation uses the stylistic conventions described here.

Using the solution examples

All examples in this document use only private class IP addresses. When you set up the solutions we describe, you must use valid IP addresses suitable to your own network in place of our sample addresses.

Identifying new terms

To help you identify sections where a term is defined, the term itself is shown in bold italic text. For example, a floating IP address is an IP address assigned to a VLAN and shared between two computer systems.

Identifying references to products

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 Local Traffic Manager module as simply the Local Traffic Manager. If configuration information relates to a specific hardware platform, we note the platform.

Identifying references to objects, names, and commands

We apply bold text 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, with the bigpipe self <ip_address> show command, you can specify a specific self IP address to show by specifying an IP address for the <ip_address> variable.

Identifying references to other documents

We use italic text to denote a reference to another document. In references where we provide the name of a book as well as a specific chapter or section in the book, we show the book name in bold, italic text, and the chapter/section name in italic text to help quickly differentiate the two. For example, you can find information about SNMP traps in the BIG-IP® Network and System Management Guide, Appendix A, Troubleshooting SNMP Traps.

Identifying command syntax

We show 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 shows the configuration of the specified pool name:

bigpipe self <ip_address> show


b self <ip_Address> show

Table 1.1 explains additional special conventions used in command line syntax.

Table 1.1 Command line syntax conventions
Item in text
Indicates that the command continues on the following line, and that users should type the entire command without typing a line break.
< >
Identifies a user-defined parameter. For example, if the command has <your name>, type in your name, but do not include the brackets.
Separates parts of a command.
Indicates that syntax inside the brackets is optional.
Indicates that you can type a series of items.


Finding help and technical support resources

You can find additional technical documentation and product information in the following locations:

  • Online help for local traffic management
    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 F5 Networks Technical Support web site
    • The F5 Solution Center
    • The F5 DevCentral web site
    • Plug-ins, SNMP MIBs, and SSH clients
  • F5 Networks Technical Support web site
    The F5 Networks Technical Support web site,, provides the latest documentation for the product, including:
    • Release notes for the BIG-IP system, current and past
    • Updates for guides (in PDF form)
    • Technical notes
    • Answers to frequently asked questions
    • The AskF5 natural language question and answer engine.
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