In one of my previous posts we took a look at configuring the BIG-IP to act as a site-to-site VPN tunnel endpoint for connecting on-premises environments with Azure.  At the time the BIG-IP only supported policy-based, (static-route) VPN tunnels.  Now, with the latest release of the F5 BIGIP OS, (version 12.x), both dynamic as well as static-based IPSec VPNs are supported.  “But Greg, why do I care?”, you may ask.  Excellent question! 

For a good primer on the two version of IPSec VPNs checkout this blog post from Russ Slaten.  From a practical standpoint, if your organization needs to connect multiple endpoints, (including Multi-Site, Point-to-Site, and VNet-to-VNet ), to their Azure environment, you must utilize a dynamic route-based VPN configuration.  So with that said, let’s take a look at a typical configuration setup.  


Note:  The following steps assume the BIG-IP has been initially configured settings including, but not limited to, licensing, provisioning, and network configurations.  Addtionally, an iApp template is available here.  The iApp will facilitate the deployment described below.

Setup – Configure each of the following objects in BIG-IP as illustrated below.


Step 1. Create IPsec Policy – The following IPsec policy created utilizes SHA-1’ for authentication, ‘AES-256’ for encryption, and Diffie-Hellman (MODP1024) Perfect Forward Secrecy.  However, you have various options with regards to levels and types of auth/encryption.  Refer to the Azure’s page for requirements.

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Step 2. Create Azure Traffic Selector –  During the initial tunnel negotiation, the Azure VPN gateway will advertise ‘’ for both source and destination subnets regardless of the actual on-premises and Azure VNet address spaces.  The BIG-IP traffic selector should match this to allow for Azure initiated tunnels.  The actual traffic direction, (routing) will be determined by the static route entries, (see Step 6 below).



Step 3. Create Azure Peer – The Azure IKE peer utilizes IKE v2, ‘SHA-1’ for authentication, ‘AES-256’ for encryption, Diffie-Hellman (MODP1024) Perfect Forward Secrecy, and a ‘preshared key’.



Step 4. Create IPsec tunnel profile and tunnel  – This is where dynamic, (aka route-based) IPsec and policy-based IPsec diverge.  Utilizing an IPsec tunnel interface allows us to create static routes with the tunnel endpoint as the next hop.  This way any traffic destined for the Azure side will be routed through the tunnel.  By contrast, policy-based VPNs require a policy that explicitly states which traffic can use the VPN.




Step 5. Create Tunnel Endpoint Self-IP and IPsec interface Self-IP. Note:Although required, the address assigned is not utilized by Azure tunnel and the only requirement is the subnet must be unique.




Step 6. Create Route – A static route with the newly created tunnel as the next hop allows any traffic hitting the BIG-IP and destined for the specified subnet to be routed through the IPsec tunnel.



Step 7. Create a forwarding virtual server – The simple forwarding virtual server listens for and directs traffic over the IPsec tunnel.




Additional Links:

CodeShare - IPSec Tunnel Endpoint iApp Download

Connecting to Windows Azure with the BIG-IP

About VPN devices for site-to-site virtual network connections

Configuring IPsec between a BIG-IP system and a third-party device

Windows Azure Virtual Networks

Static vs Dynamic Routing Gateways in Azure – Russ Slaten Blog Post


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