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Manual Chapter: vCMP Overview
Manual Chapter
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vCMP overview

Virtual Clustered Multiprocessing (vCMP) is a feature of the BIG-IP® system that allows you to run multiple instances of the BIG-IP software on a single hardware platform. vCMP® allocates a specific share of the hardware resources to each BIG-IP instance, or vCMP guest. Each guest you create behaves as a separate BIG-IP device, having its own CPU, memory, and disk space. Each guest also has its own configuration, log files, and kernel instance.

vCMP is built on F5 Networks' CMP® technology. CMP works with cluster members. Cluster members are slots within a chassis. CMP allows cluster members to work together to form a coherent, distributed traffic-processing system to share traffic load. vCMP takes this one step further by allowing you to create and run virtualized BIG-IP modules, using a standards-based, purpose-built hypervisor.

Important: Before you license, provision, and configure the vCMP feature, verify that you have correctly configured the hardware platform. For more information, see the relevant platform guide and configuration guide on the F5 Networks AskF5™ Knowledge Base web site, http://support.f5.com.
Important: The vCMP feature runs on both chassis and appliance type platforms. Discussions in this guide that reference slots and blades are not applicable to appliances. In virtually all cases, appliance-based systems can be thought of as a device with a single slot.

vCMP components

A vCMP® system includes these main components.

Term Definition
BIG-IP cluster A BIG-IP® cluster is the set of available slots (cluster members) on the chassis. You manage a BIG-IP cluster using the Clusters screens in the BIG-IP Configuration utility.
Note: This term is not applicable for appliances.
Cluster IP address A cluster IP address is a management IP address that you assign to a cluster to access the system. On a vCMP system, there are multiple cluster IP addresses: one for the BIG-IP cluster (to access the vCMP host), and one for each virtual cluster (to access each guest).
Note: This term is not applicable for appliances.
vCMP daemon This daemon, named vcmpd, performs most of the work to create and manage guests, as well as to configure the virtual network.
vCMP guest A vCMP guest is an object that you create on the vCMP system for the purpose of running one or more BIG-IP® modules. A guest consists of a TMOS® instance, plus one or more BIG-IP modules. Each guest has its own share of hardware resources that the vCMP host allocates to it, effectively making each guest function like a separate BIG-IP device.
vCMP host The vCMP host is the system-wide hypervisor that makes it possible for you to create, view, and manage all guests on the system. A vCMP host allocates system resources to guests as needed.
Virtual cluster A virtual cluster is similar to a normal cluster on a chassis, except that unlike a normal cluster, a separate virtual cluster exists for each guest on the system. A virtual cluster contains only the portions of the slots that pertain to an individual guest. For example, if a guest spans two slots, then the two slot portions for the guest represent a virtual cluster. There is a one-to-one correlation of a virtual cluster to a guest.
Note: This term is not applicable for appliances.
Virtual disk A virtual disk is the portion of disk space on a slot that the system has allocated to a guest. For example, if a guest spans three slots, the system creates three virtual disks for that guest. Each virtual disk is implemented as an image file with an .img extension, such as guest_A.img.
Note: Appliance devices have just one slot.
Virtual management network The virtual management network contains the components necessary to connect a guest to the management network of the vCMP host.
VM A Virtual machine is the portion of a guest that resides on a slot. For example, a guest that spans four slots comprises four VMs.
Note: Appliance devices have just one slot.

BIG-IP license considerations for vCMP

The BIG-IP® system license authorizes you to provision and run the vCMP® feature. Note the following considerations:

  • Each guest inherits the license of the vCMP host.
  • The license must include all BIG-IP modules that are to be provisioned within the guest. Examples of BIG-IP modules are BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager™ and BIG-IP® Global Traffic Manager™.
  • The license specifies the maximum number of vCMP guests that you can deploy simultaneously.

You activate the BIG-IP system license when you initially set up the system.

vCMP provisioning overview

The BIG-IP® system allocates a portion of its resources to running vCMP®. The system also allocates various system resources to each vCMP guest that you create. You enable this allocation through various types of provisioning:

  • First, you provision the BIG-IP system for vCMP, by logging into the system and using the Resource Provisioning screens within the BIG-IP Configuration utility. When you do this, the BIG-IP system dedicates almost all of the disk space to running the vCMP feature. (The reserved disk space protects against any possible resizing of the file system.)
  • After creating a guest, you set the State of the guest to Provisioned, which installs the guest on the host and causes the BIG-IP system to allocate the necessary system resources (such as CPU cores and virtual disks) to the guest. Each guest takes you about 5 minutes to set up.
  • Finally, after you deploy the guest, you provision specific BIG-IP modules within each guest, by logging into each guest and using the Resource Provisioning screens within the BIG-IP Configuration utility. In this way, each guest can run a different combination of modules. For example, one guest can run BIG-IP® LTM® only, while a second guest can run LTM® and BIG-IP ASM™.

vCMP best practices

F5 Networks has the following recommendations for managing a vCMP® system.

Category Recommendation
Guest configuration If you need to move a guest's configuration to another slot, copy the guest configuration and then de-allocate all virtual resources (virtual disk, CPU cores, and so on) from the guest.
Note: Guest migration is not applicable for appliance devices.
Licensing Before upgrading a guest to a newer version of BIG-IP® software later, you might need to coordinate with the vCMP host administrator to renew the license key.
Local traffic configuration When you are logged in to the vCMP host, do not configure local traffic features (virtual servers, pools, profiles, and so on). To configure local traffic features, you must be logged in to a guest using the guest's management IP address, and the BIG-IP LTM® module must be provisioned.
Network setup When initially setting up the BIG-IP system, physically wire each slot's management interface to an external bridge. Access to the vCMP host would otherwise be impossible, because vCMP guests can be deployed on any slot in the chassis, and the primary member for a guest's virtual cluster can migrate. When you follow this recommendation, you do not need to re-configure the vCMP host or any external networks when the primary member of a virtual cluster changes.
Self IP address configuration Configure self IP addresses on the vCMP guests. Because a vCMP guest acts as a fully functional BIG-IP system, configure self IP addresses on each vCMP guest just as you would on a physical BIG-IP system. You can also configure self IP addresses on the vCMP host to facilitate basic network connectivity tests. However, these self IP addresses are not visible to vCMP guests.
vCMP provisioning When you provision the vCMP feature, the BIG-IP® system allocates most, but not all, of the disk space to the vCMP application volume. The system reserves disk space for other uses.
Virtual disk management When a virtual disk becomes unattached from a guest, that virtual disk remains on the system. To prevent unattached virtual disks from consuming disk space over time, consider deleting unwanted virtual disks from the system.
Important: Before deciding to delete a virtual disk, make certain that there is no potential use for it. Configuration objects for guests that require that virtual disk for re-creation, will no longer be available.
VLAN configuration Configure VLANs on the vCMP host instead of on the guest, because VLANs specified in the guest are not accessible on the vCMP host.
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