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Manual Chapter: Interfaces
Manual Chapter
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A key task of the BIG-IP® system configuration is the configuration of BIG-IP system interfaces. The interfaces on a BIG-IP system are the physical ports that you use to connect the BIG-IP system to other devices on the network. These other devices can be next-hop routers, Layer 2 devices, destination servers, and so on. Through its interfaces, the BIG-IP system can forward traffic to or from other network devices.
Note: Throughout this guide, the term interface refers to the physical ports on the BIG-IP system.
Every BIG-IP system includes multiple interfaces. The exact number of interfaces that you have on the BIG-IP system depends on the platform type. For information on BIG-IP platform types, see the relevant platform guide.
A management interface
The management interface is a special interface dedicated to performing a specific set of system management functions.
TMM switch interfaces
TMM switch interfaces are those interfaces that the BIG-IP system uses to send or receive application traffic, that is, traffic slated for load balancing.
Each of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system has unique properties, such as media speed, duplex mode, VLAN tagging, and spanning tree protocol settings.
In addition to configuring interface properties, you can implement a feature known as interface mirroring, which you can use to duplicate traffic from one or more interfaces to another. You can also view statistics about the traffic on each interface.
Once you have configured the properties of each interface, you can configure several other features of the BIG-IP system that control the way that interfaces operate. For example, by creating a virtual local area network (VLAN) and assigning interfaces to it, the BIG-IP system can insert a VLAN ID, or tag, into frames passing through those interfaces. In this way, a single interface can forward traffic for multiple VLANs.
To configure and manage BIG-IP system interfaces, log in to the BIG-IP Configuration utility, and on the Main tab, expand Network, and click Interfaces.
Each interface on the BIG-IP system has a set of properties that you can configure, such as enabling or disabling the interface, setting the requested media type and duplex mode, and configuring flow control. Configuring the properties of each interface is one of the first tasks you do after running the Setup utility on the BIG-IP system. While you can change some of these properties, such as media speed and duplex mode, you cannot change other properties, such as the media access control (MAC) address.
Note: Only users with either the Administrator or Resource Administrator user role can create and manage interfaces.
By convention, the names of the interfaces on the BIG-IP system use the format <s>.<p> where s is the slot number of the network interface card (NIC), and p is the port number on the NIC. Examples of interface names are 1.1, 1.2, and 2.1. BIG-IP system interfaces already have names assigned to them; you do not explicitly assign them.
Using the Configuration utility, you can display a screen that lists all of the BIG-IP system interfaces, as well as their current status (UP or DOWN). You can also view other information about each interface:
This information is useful when you want to assess the way that a particular interface is forwarding traffic. For example, you can use this information to determine the specific VLANs for which an interface is currently forwarding traffic. You can also use this information to determine the speed at which an interface is currently operating.
Interface stat
You can either enable or disable an interface on the BIG-IP system, by configuring the State property. By default, each interface is set to Enabled, where it can accept ingress or egress traffic. When you set the state to Disabled, the interface cannot accept ingress or egress traffic.
You can configure the Requested Media property to specify the media type and duplex mode of the interface card, or you can use the auto setting for auto-detection. The values that you can choose from when configuring the Requested Media property are: auto, 10baseT full, 10baseT half, 100baseTX full, 100baseTX half, and 1000baseT full, and 1000baseT half.
The default setting for this property is auto. If the media type is set to auto and the card does not support auto-detection, the default type for that interface is used, for example 1000BaseT half.
Full duplex mode means that traffic on that interface can travel in both directions simultaneously, while half duplex mode means that traffic on that interface can only travel in one direction at any given time. Note that if you want the interface to be part of a trunk, the media type must be set to one with full duplex mode.
If the media type of the interface does not allow the duplex mode to be set, this is indicated by an on-screen message. If setting the duplex mode is not supported for the interface, the duplex setting is not saved to the bigip_base.conf file.
Note: If the BIG-IP system is inter-operating with an external switch, the media setting should match that of the external switch.
You can configure the Flow Control property to manage the way that an interface handles pause frames for flow control. Pause frames are frames that an interface sends to a peer interface as a way to control frame transmission from that peer interface. Pausing a peers frame transmissions prevents an interfaces First-in, First-out (FIFO) queue from filling up and resulting in a loss of data. Possible values for this property are:
Pause None
Disables flow control.
Pause TX/RX
Specifies that the interface honors pause frames from its peer, and also generates pause frames when necessary. This is the default value.
Pause TX
Specifies that the interface ignores pause frames from its peer, and generates pause frames when necessary.
Pause RX
Specifies that the interface honors pause frames from its peer, but does not generate pause frames.
For reliability reasons, you can configure a feature known as interface mirroring. When you configure interface mirroring, you cause the BIG-IP system to copy the traffic on one or more interfaces to another interface that you specify. By default, the interface mirroring feature is disabled.
Specifies one or more interfaces for which you want to mirror traffic on the destination interface.
After you have configured the interfaces on the BIG-IP system, one of the primary tasks you perform is to assign those interfaces to the virtual LANs (VLANs) that you create. A VLAN is a logical subset of hosts on a local area network (LAN) that reside in the same IP address space. When you assign multiple interfaces to a single VLAN, traffic destined for a host in that VLAN can travel through any one of these interfaces to reach its destination. Conversely, when you assign a single interface to multiple VLANs, the BIG-IP system can use that single interface for any traffic that is intended for hosts in those VLANs. For more information about VLANs, see Chapter 25, VLANs and VLAN Groups.
Another powerful feature that you can use for BIG-IP system interfaces is trunking, with link aggregation. A trunk is an object that logically groups physical interfaces together to increase bandwidth. Link aggregation, through the use of the industry-standard Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP), provides regular monitoring of link status, as well as failover if an interface becomes unavailable. For more information on using trunks and LACP, see Chapter 22, Trunks.
Finally, you can configure your BIG-IP system interfaces to work with one of the spanning tree protocols (STP, RSTP, and MSTP). Spanning tree protocols reduce traffic on your internal network by blocking duplicate routes to prevent bridging loops. Chapter 21, Spanning Tree Protocols, describes the spanning tree protocols and the procedure for configuring these protocols on the BIG-IP system. The chapter also includes information on setting spanning tree-related properties on individual interfaces.
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