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Manual Chapter: Protocol Profiles
Manual Chapter
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About protocol profiles

Some of the BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager profiles that you can configure are known as protocol profiles. The protocol profiles types are:

  • Fast L4
  • Fast HTTP
  • UDP
  • SCTP

For each protocol profile type, Local Traffic Manager provides a pre-configured profile with default settings. In most cases, you can use these default profiles as is. If you want to change these settings, you can configure protocol profile settings when you create a profile, or after profile creation by modifying the profile’s settings.

To configure and manage protocol profiles, log in to the BIG-IP Configuration utility, and on the Main tab, expand Local Traffic, and click Profiles.

The Fast L4 profile type

The purpose of a Fast L4 profile is to help you manage Layer 4 traffic more efficiently. When you assign a Fast L4 profile to a virtual server, the Packet Velocity ASIC (PVA) hardware acceleration within the BIG-IP system (if supported) can process some or all of the Layer 4 traffic passing through the system. By offloading Layer 4 processing to the PVA hardware acceleration, the BIG-IP system can increase performance and throughput for basic routing functions (Layer 4) and application switching (Layer 7).

You can use a Fast L4 profile with these types of virtual servers: Performance (Layer 4), Forwarding (Layer 2), and Forwarding (IP).

PVA hardware acceleration

Once you implement a Fast L4 profile, Local Traffic Manager automatically selects the most efficient PVA hardware acceleration mode for Layer 4 traffic, if PCVA is supported on the specific BIG-IP platform. Possible modes are Full, Assisted, and None.

The particular hardware acceleration mode that Local Traffic Manager selects depends on these factors:

The Fast L4 profile settings
The mode that the BIG-IP selects is influenced by the way that you configure the settings of the Fast L4 profile.
The virtual server configuration
The mode that Local Traffic Manager selects is influenced by the specific features that you assigned to the virtual server (such as pools, SNAT pools, and iRules).
A monitor assigned to associated nodes
For full PVA acceleration, you must assign monitors to the relevant nodes.
The value of the PVA Acceleration setting
The PVA Acceleration setting in the Fast L4 profile defines the maximum amount of hardware acceleration that you want to allow, for Layer 4 traffic passing through the virtual server. Therefore, if you set the value to:
  • Full: The system can set hardware acceleration to any of the three modes (Full, Assisted, or None), depending on the virtual server configuration. This is the default value.
  • Assisted: The system can set hardware acceleration to either Assisted or None mode, depending on the virtual server configuration.
  • None: The system does not perform hardware acceleration.

Depending on the current mode to which hardware acceleration is automatically set, Local Traffic Manager accelerates Layer 4 traffic

Important: If you have a VLAN group configured on the BIG-IP system and its Transparency Mode setting is set to Translucent or Transparent, Local Traffic Manager automatically sets the PVA Acceleration value to None.

The Fast HTTP profile type

The Fast HTTP profile is a configuration tool designed to speed up certain types of HTTP connections. This profile combines selected features from the TCP Express, HTTP, and OneConnect profiles into a single profile that is optimized for the best possible network performance. When you associate this profile with a virtual server, the virtual server processes traffic packet-by-packet, and at a significantly higher speed.

You might consider using a Fast HTTP profile when:

  • You do not need features such as remote server authentication, SSL traffic management, and TCP optimizations, nor HTTP features such as data compression, pipelining, and RAM Cache.
  • You do not need to maintain source IP addresses.
  • You want to reduce the number of connections that are opened to the destination servers.
  • The destination servers support connection persistence, that is, HTTP/1.1, or HTTP/1.0 with Keep-Alive headers. Note that IIS servers support connection persistence by default.
  • You need basic iRule support only (such as limited Layer 4 support and limited HTTP header operations). For example, you can use the iRule events CLIENT_ACCEPTED, SERVER_CONNECTED, and HTTP_REQUEST.

A significant benefit of using a Fast HTTP profile is the way in which the profile supports connection persistence. Using a Fast HTTP profile ensures that for client requests, Local Traffic Manager can transform or add an HTTP Connection header to keep connections open. Using the profile also ensures that Local Traffic Manager pools any open server-side connections. This support for connection persistence can greatly reduce the load on destination servers by removing much of the overhead caused by the opening and closing of connections.

Note: The Fast HTTP profile is incompatible with all other profile types. Also, you cannot use this profile type in conjunction with VLAN groups, or with the IPv6 address format.

When writing iRules, you can specify a number of events and commands that the Fast HTTP profile supports.

You can use the default fasthttp profile as is, or create a custom Fast HTTP profile.

The UDP profile type

The UDP profile is a configuration tool for managing UDP network traffic.

Because the BIG-IP system supports the OpenSSL implementation of datagram Transport Layer Security (TLS), you can optionally assign both a UDP and a Client SSL profile to certain types of virtual servers.

The SCTP profile type

Local Traffic Manager includes a profile type that you can use to manage Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) traffic. Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) is a general-purpose, industry-standard transport protocol, designed for message-oriented applications that transport signalling data. The design of SCTP includes appropriate congestion-avoidance behavior, as well as resistance to flooding and masquerade attacks.

Unlike TCP, SCTP includes the ability to support several streams within a connection. While a TCP stream refers to a sequence of bytes, an SCTP stream represents a sequence of messages.

You can use SCTP as the transport protocol for applications that require monitoring and detection of session loss. For such applications, the SCTP mechanisms to detect session failure actively monitor the connectivity of a session.

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