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Manual Chapter: Introducing the Traffic Management
Manual Chapter
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The BIG-IP® system is a set of application delivery products that work together to ensure high availability, improved performance, application security, and access control.
One of the primary functions of the BIG-IP system is to direct different types of protocol and application traffic to an appropriate destination server. The system accomplishes this through its Local Traffic Manager module, which can forward traffic directly to a load balancing server pool, or send traffic to a next-hop router, a pool of routers, or directly to a selected node on the network.
Other modules available on the BIG-IP system provide critical functions such as applying security policies to network traffic, accelerating HTTP connections, and optimizing connections across a wide-area network.
Figure 1.1 shows an example of the most basic BIG-IP system configuration.
The foundation of the BIG-IP system from a software perspective is the F5 Networks® Traffic Management Operation System® (TMOS®).
TMOS is a real-time, event-driven operating system designed specifically for application delivery networking. Through TMOS, you can configure all of the basic BIG-IP system routing and switching functions, as well as enhancements such as clusters, user roles, and administrative partitions.
On top of TMOS runs a set of independent modules that you can configure TMOS is designed to meet the performance, security, availability, and management needs of applications, as enterprises conduct business through the Internet. To successfully meet these needs, TMOS features the following architectural elements:
Proxy architecture
Through the TMOS proxy architecture, the BIG-IP system can inspect traffic, optimize application performance, and off load downstream servers.
High-speed performance
TMOS is specifically designed for high performance. For example, TMOS separates client-side flows from server-side flows for customized acceleration, and minimizes overhead energy spent on process context switching and resource allocation.
Modular functionality
Through TMOS, you can readily add features without embarking on costly network infrastructure upgrades.
After completing the initial configuration, you can configure TMOS to further customize the system. For example, the most basic system configuration that results from running the Setup utility includes two virtual local area networks (VLANs) with one or more BIG-IP system interfaces (ports) assigned to each VLAN. Using the BIG-IP systems browser-based Configuration utility, you can customize this configuration by assigning additional interfaces to each VLAN or configuring the BIG-IP system to send traffic for multiple VLANs through the same interface.
A key feature of TMOS is a feature known as device service clustering, or DSCTM. With DSC, you can configure multiple BIG-IP devices to share their device properties, synchronize their configuration data at user-defined levels of granularity, and fail over to one another if an active device in the device group becomes unavailable. For more information, see these guides:
BIG-IP® Device Service Clustering: Administration
BIG-IP® TMOS®: Implementations
To help you easily identify and understand important information, all of our documentation uses the stylistic conventions described here.
All examples in this document use only private class IP addresses. When you set up the configurations we describe, you must use valid IP addresses suitable to your own network in place of our sample addresses.
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.
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 tmsh save sys config file <user_filename> command, you can define a filename to by specifying it for the <user_filename> variable.
We use italic text to denote a reference to another document or section of a document. We use bold, italic text to denote a reference to a book title. For example, for installation instructions, see the guide titled BIG-IP® Systems: Getting Started Guide.
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, to save your configuration in all partitions, type the following command:
Table 1.1 explains additional special conventions used in command line syntax.
< >
Identifies a user-defined parameter. For example, if the command has <your name>, type in your name, but do not include the brackets.
Online help
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:
F5 Networks Technical Support web site
The F5 Networks Technical Support web site,, provides the latest documentation for the product, including:
The AskF5TM Knowledge Base
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