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Manual Chapter: Understanding vCMP Guests
Manual Chapter
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About vCMP guests

A vCMP® guest is an object that you create on the vCMP system for the purpose of running one or more BIG-IP® modules. For example, a typical guest might run both BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager™ and BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager™. Each guest has its own portion of system resources (such as CPU cores and disk space) allocated to it, which makes the guest appear as if it were a separate BIG-IP device. On a vCMP system, the number of guests that you can run simultaneously, depends on licensing and hardware type.

In addition to running BIG-IP modules, each guest contains its own instance of TMOS®. This TMOS instance gives you the ability to provision, configure, and manage certain network components (such as self IP addresses) and any BIG-IP modules within the guest.

The illustration shows three guests running on a BIG-IP system. Guest 1 runs on a single slot only. Guest 2 and Guest 3 each run on all available slots.

Example illustration of guests running on a BIG-     IP system Example illustration of guests running on a BIG- IP system
Important: In addition to other considerations, when considering whether to create a single slot or multi-slot guest, bear in mind that recovery from a blade hot swap is much more straightforward for multi-slot guests.

About network modes for a vCMP guest

You can configure each vCMP® guest to operate in one of two modes: Bridged or Isolated. The mode you choose specifies whether the guest is bridged to or isolated from the vCMP host's management network.

About the Bridged network mode

Bridged mode is the default network mode for a vCMP guest. This mode provides full Layer 2 access between guests, and creates a bridge between each guest's management interface, the host's management interface, and devices connected to the host's front-panel management port. Typically, you configure a guest's management port to be on the same IP network as the host's management port, with a gateway identical to the host's management gateway. This allows you to make TCP connections (for SSH, HTTP, and so on) easily from either the host or the external network to the guest, or from the guest to the host or external network. Although the guest and the host share the host's Ethernet connection, the guest appears as a separate device on the local network, with its own MAC address and IP address.

About the Isolated network mode

Isolated mode isolates the guest from the management network. As in Bridged mode, a guest in Isolated mode cannot communicate with other guests on the system. Also, the only way that a guest can communicate with the vCMP host is through the console port or through a self IP address on the guest that allows traffic through port 22.

Note: Although a guest in Isolated mode cannot communicate directly with the management network, you can configure the guest to communicate to external networks indirectly. You do this by configuring network routing or a firewall on the guest's operating system.

About deployed guests and network modes

If the guest is already deployed:

  • Setting the network mode from Bridged to Isolated causes the vCMP host to remove all of the guest's management interfaces from its bridged management network. This has the effect of immediately disconnecting the guest's VMs from the physical management network.
  • Setting the network mode from Isolated to Bridged causes the vCMP host to dynamically add the guest's management interfaces to the bridged management network. This immediately connects all of the guest's VMs to the physical management network.

Changing this property while the guest is in the Configured or Provisioned state has no immediate effect.

Modifying the properties of a vCMP guest

You can use the BIG-IP® Configuration utility to modify the properties of an existing vCMP® guest.

  1. On the Main tab, click vCMP > Guest List.
  2. In the Name column, click the name of the vCMP guest that you want to modify.
  3. From the Properties list, select Advanced.
  4. Change the values of the properties you want to modify.
  5. Click Update.
    Important: Depending on the extent of the changes made to the vCMP guest, the guest may reboot.

Viewing the properties of a vCMP guest

You can use the BIG-IP® Configuration utility to view the properties of vCMP® guests.
  1. On the Main tab, click vCMP > Guest List.
  2. In the Name column, click the name of the vCMP guest that you want to view.
The system displays the properties of the guest.

Overview: Blade swap for vCMP guest

When you remove and replace blades, and want to preserve the existing configuration, you may need to migrate a guest. This is true when you need to swap all of the blades upon which your guest resides. On multiple slot guests, configuration information is stored on all blades, so when you remove a blade, the configuration is retained. But when you swap a single slot guest, or all slots of a multiple slot guest, you must take care to migrate the guest before you swap. This task guides you through the process of migrating your guest to another slot for the duration of the hot swap process and then migrating it back after the swap. Although this task preserves your guest and all of its settings, the easier (and preferable) method is to just save the BIG-IP® configuration objects configured on your guest (as a UCS file), create a new guest, and then import the UCS file to the new guest.

For more information on archiving and importing BIG-IP configuration objects, refer to the F5 Networks AskF5® Knowledge Base web site, http://support.f5.com.

When you swap out a blade that hosts a single slot vCMP® guest, migrate the guest to another slot before you swap out the blade to preserve the BIG-IP configuration objects through the swap process.

Migrating a single-slot guest to another slot copies the virtual disk and the configuration objects it contains. When you swap out the blade and redeploy the guest, the guest can resume traffic processing.

Disabling a vCMP guest

When you disable a guest, the BIG-IP® system deallocates its resources (such as CPU cores, physical memory, and virtual disks). Once disabled, you can edit the vCMP® guest, or you can migrate the guest to another slot and its resources are available for consumption by another guest.

  1. On the Main tab, click vCMP > Guest List.
  2. In the Name column, find the name of the vCMP guest that you want to disable.
  3. Select the check box to the left of the guest name.
  4. Click Disable. The BIG-IP system releases the resources dedicated to the guest.

Migrating a vCMP guest

When you migrate a guest from a slot about to be hot swapped, you determine where that guest will migrate using the Allowed Slots List.
  1. On the Main tab, click vCMP > Guest List.
  2. Analyze the vCMP® guest allocation to determine on which slot your guest is currently deployed and to which slot (or slots) you want it to migrate.
  3. In the Name column, click the name of the vCMP guest that you want to modify. The system displays the properties of the guest.
  4. From the Properties list, select Advanced.
  5. From the Allowed Slots List, use the Move button to move the current slot number to the Available field and the slot to which you want the guest to migrate to the Selected field. (If it doesn't matter to which specific slot the guest migrates, you can also just remove the current slot from the Allowed Slots list. This identifies the specific slots to which you want your guest to migrate.
  6. Click Provision or Deploy.
  7. Click Update.
    Important: The system will begin migrating the virtual disk for the vCMP guest.

Migrating a single slot guest

For this task you must be logged in to the vCMP® host using its management IP address, and you are in the process of migrating a single slot guest from a blade so that it can be hot swapped. Additionally, this task begins when you have either temporarily disabled guests or created dummy guests so that when you re-deploy the guest, it will migrate to the slot you intend.
When you re-deploy a guest that has been disabled (change its state from configured to deployed), the vCMP host migrates that guest to the next open set of available resources. Use this procedure to migrate the guest from the blade before you perform the hot swap, and then use this procedure again to migrate the guest back to the blade after the hot swap.
Important: Migrating a single slot guest to another slot is essential before performing a blade hot-swap if you want to preserve the BIG-IP® configuration objects defined for that guest.
  1. Ensure that you are still logged in to the vCMP host using the BIG-IP system's management IP address.
  2. On the Main tab, click vCMP > Guest List.
  3. In the Name column, click the name of the vCMP guest that you want to deploy.
  4. From the Requested State list, select either Provisioned or Deployed.
  5. Click Update.
    Important: Depending on the extent of the changes made to the vCMP guest, the guest may reboot.
The guest migrates to the next available set of resources. It takes some time for the guest to boot and become accessible.

Hot swapping a VIPRION blade

You can hot swap a VIPRION® blade when you need to replace it. Steps for performing a hot swap are platform dependent.
Refer to the appropriate platform guide for instructions on removing and replacing a blade on an active VIPRION chassis.
Option Description
For VIPRION 2400 chassis Refer to "Removing a blade" and "Installing a blade" in the Platform Guide: VIPRION 2400.
For VIPRION 4400 chassis Refer to "Removing a blade" and "Installing a blade" in the Platform Guide: VIPRION 4400.
Once the new blade boots, the vCMP® host adds it to the cluster, and you can migrate guests to it.

About software image selection and live installation

When you initially create a vCMP® guest, you choose the ISO image to install for that guest. Then, when you move the guest to the Provisioned state, the vCMP host installs that ISO image onto each of the newly-created virtual disk images pertaining to that guest.

Important: The initial software image is used only when the system first creates the virtual disk images. Subsequent software upgrades are done within the guest using the live installation process.

About vCMP guest states

A vCMP® guest is always in one of these states:

Configured
This is the initial (and default) state for newly-created guests. In this state, the guest is not running, and no resources are allocated to the guest. The BIG-IP® system does not create virtual disks for a guest until you set that guest to the Provisioned state. If you move a guest from another state to the Configured state, the BIG-IP system does not delete the virtual disks previously attached to that guest. The guest's virtual disks persist on the system. Other resources, however, such as CPU cores, are automatically de-allocated. When the guest is in the Configured state, you cannot configure the BIG-IP modules that are licensed to run within the guest; instead, you must first provision and deploy the guest, then you can provision the BIG-IP modules within the guest.
Provisioned
When you move a vCMP guest to the Provisioned state, the system allocates resources (CPU, memory, network interfaces, and disk space) to that guest. If this is a new guest, the system also creates virtual disks for the guest and installs the selected ISO image on them. A guest does not run while in the Provisioned state.
Deployed
After provisioning a guest, you deploy it. For guests in this state, the BIG-IP system attempts to start and maintain a VM on each slot for which the guest has resources allocated. If you reconfigure the properties of a guest after its initial deployment, the system immediately propagates some of those changes to all of that guest's VMs. The system immediately propagates the list of allowed VLANs.

When you set up and deploy multiple guests at once, there is good reason to move each guest first to the Provisioned state. This allows you to verify that the guest allocations are satisfactory before you commit the guests to full deployment. This allows you to confirm that the virtual disk installations are successful before deploying the guests. If there is a problem with one guest’s allocation or virtual disk installation, you might need to rearrange the resource allocations for your guests. Keeping the guests in the Provisioned state until you are confident in your allocations prevents you from having to shut down deployed guests to make these changes.

About system resource allocation

The system resources that the BIG-IP® system allocates to each guest are: CPU cores, physical memory, and virtual disk space. The system allocates resources to a guest when you set the state of the guest to Provisioned.

About CPU cores allocation

For single-slot guests, when the system allocates CPU cores to a guest, the system determines the best slot for the guest to run on. From the slots identified on the Allowed Slots list, the system selects the slot with the most unallocated CPU cores. For all-slot guests, the system allocates CPU cores from the available slots (as defined by the Allowed Slots setting for this guest).

This illustration shows that the BIG-IP® system has allocated two CPU cores to guest1, which is deployed on slot 1. Note that guest0 has no CPU cores allocated to it because the guest has not yet been deployed.

BIG-IP system with CPU core allocations for guests BIG-IP system with CPU core allocations for guests

Note the following:

  • If an unavailable slot becomes available later, the system automatically re-allocates the CPU cores to each all-slot guest and to any single-slot guests previously allocated to this slot.
  • If rebooted for any reason, the BIG-IP system persists any single-slot guest to the slot it was deployed on previously, thereby retaining the same CPU core allocation for that guest. However, if you change a guest's state at any time from Deployed to Configured, the BIG-IP system de-allocates the CPU cores for that guest.

About virtual disks allocation

A virtual disk is a portion of the total disk space on the BIG-IP® system that the system allocates to a vCMP® guest. The system allocates one virtual disk and a dedicated chunk of memory to each slot on which the guest resides.

You cannot explicitly create virtual disks; instead, the BIG-IP system creates virtual disks whenever you set the state of a guest to Provisioned and the guest does not already have an attached virtual disk.

About hardware processors allocation

On systems that include SSL and compression hardware processors, the vCMP® feature shares these hardware resources among all guests on the system.

vCMP guest modification considerations

Before modifying a vCMP® guest, be aware of the following facts in regard to vCMP guest properties.

Property name Note
Virtual Disk If you change this value from a specific file name to None, the BIG-IP® system detaches that virtual disk file from the guest. In this case, the virtual disk remains on the system as an unattached virtual disk. If you want to delete the virtual disk, you must do this explicitly, using the Virtual Disk List screen of the BIG-IP Configuration utility.
Note: Guests in the Provisioned or Deployed state do not allow modification of this property. You can only modify the Virtual Disk property by first changing the State property to Configured.
VLAN List The system immediately propagates the modification to all VMs of the guest, if the guest is in the Deployed state.
State If you change this value from Deployed or Provisioned to Configured, the BIG-IP system automatically de-allocates all resources except for the guest's virtual disk.
Management Network Changing the value of the Network Mode property while the guest is in the Deployed state, has consequences:
  • Changing the mode from Bridged to Isolated causes the vCMP host to remove all of the guest's management interfaces from its bridged management network. This has the effect of immediately disconnecting the guest's VMs from the physical management network.
  • Changing the mode from Isolated to Bridged causes the vCMP host to dynamically add the guest's management interfaces to the bridged management network. This immediately connects all of the guest's VMs to the physical management network.
Changing the Network Mode property while the guest is in the Configured or Provisioned state has no immediate effect.
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