Eric Flores, author of Config Backup for F5, will be joining John Wagnon and I for a podcast this evening to discuss his project. This open source project is great for the shops that don't have budget for the robust feature sets of Enterprise Manager and BIG-IQ. The bits are offered as a downloadable tgz, or more attractively for those that want something to just work right out of the box, a VMware appliance! For this review, I opted for the latter.

One of the more frustrating this about most small pet projects on github, sourceforge, and the like is the crazy lack of good documentation. That is not the case with Eric's project. The backup appliance documentation left no step undocumented, and the user guide is well documented as well, removing almost all the guess work.

Deploying the appliance was very easy and the install process clean and tidy, but a few things I'd clarify in the documentation or enhance:

  1. Make sure the nic on the appliance belongs to a network that has access to your BIG-IPs before powering it up, though, the default nic the appliance grabbed in my workstation was a bridged network my BIG-IPs don't belong to.
  2. The NTP configuration specified an IP, but it would be nice to support names. It may already as I didn't try to add a name, but it would be good to support both and state that in the configuration utility.
  3. The NTP configuration utility had my local time and UTC swapped in the display, but in the appliance web GUI it appears fine. I went through the NTP configuration a second time with similar results, so I'm guessing just a variable swap here?

Once the appliance was configured and rebooted, I logged in to the web GUI. This is very straight forward and cleanly laid out very similarly to the F5 GUI.

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The user guide goes through the user functions (devices, backup jobs, certificates) first, but I'd recommend configuring the settings first. In the Backup Settings, you set the backup time and the user name and password. This is important, as no device you add will be touched until this information is present.

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After updating the backup settings, I added my device.

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I added/deleted a couple times before changing my backup time and I was wondering what wasn't working. It turns out the initial discovery of the device isn't done until the backup time occurs. I'd recommend in future enhancements to go ahead and do the device discovery shown in this screen and the Certificates screen when the device is added rather than waiting for the backup window.

Other than those few minor nits, this is a fantastic effort on Eric's part, and a great testament to the power of community. Thanks Eric for sharing and we look forward to seeing what enhancements and features you have in store for this project!