A while back Joe blogged about some Twitter integration he'd done around monitoring of BIG-IP. He's  got a PERL proxy that monitors the BIG-IP and sends out notifications and alerts to a specified Twitter account. But I wanted something more interactive, something more social. I wanted to be able to send a tweet to my BIG-IP and have it respond; a BIG-IP Twitter bot, if you will. twitter_thumb

So Friday I finally decided it was time to do it. I set up a Twitter account for my BIG-IP and started coding. Luckily, the Twitter API is pretty straight-forward and I already had my environment configured properly to deal with iControl via PHP. By Saturday morning my BIG-IP was responding to tweets (albeit to a very limited command set at this point). 

What's the point? The point of this exercise was (1) to prove it can be done and (2) to provide an example of yet another way in which iControl offers the ability of BIG-IP owners to control their own management destiny. The flexibility enabled by iControl means administrators aren't restricted to current technological methods of managing and monitoring application delivery infrastructure like BIG-IP.

bigip_twitter_responsesThis example is a fairly simple one, and only allows the retrieval of statistics and system version information, but it could easily expanded to allow more active management such as bringing pools, nodes, and virtual servers on and off-line. Don has mentioned he'd be interested in taking it further, so keep an eye out to see what he comes up with in the future. You could, if you wanted to, implement an entire management system via Twitter using iControl and .

Would you want to? That's not for me to say, is it, and that's really the point. I can't (and shouldn't) dictate what you use or how you manage and monitor infrastructure; yet vendors can't (or at least shouldn't) be expected to provide solutions for every custom environment that exists. The compromise is to provide the means by which the infrastructure can be managed and monitored via a standards-based API so that if you want to use Twitter as your management platform, you can, but vendors don't waste time and money building management solutions for platforms that no one is ever going to use (be honest, integrating with Twitter may be cool, but it's not a viable solution for enterprise infrastructure management); they can concentrate on improving and creating innovating solutions to solve your problems.

This exercise ties neatly back into discussions on Infrastructure 2.0; on the need for the application and network infrastructure delivering today's (and tomorrow's) applications to be flexible, adaptable, and easily integrated with new models of management, delivery, and deployment. Part of the evolution of infrastructure has to be a more adaptable, flexible means by which it can integrate and communicate with the rest of the infrastructure and the applications it is delivering. Standards-based APIs through which the infrastructure can be orchestrated, managed, integrated, and monitored via a variety of existing and emerging technological solutions is the first step toward a truly connected network and application delivery infrastructure.


If you're interested in more information about the Twitter bot (including the code behind it), check out this article. If you want to see the PHP functions using iControl to communicate with our BIG-IP, check out this article. You can also interact with the BIG-IP Twitter bot by sending it a tweet:

@lori_bigip stats (returns total number of requests handled)

@lori_bigip stats 200  (returns number of 2xx responses)

@lori_bigip stats 400  (returns number of 4xx responses)

@lori_bigip stats 500  (returns number of 5xx responses)

@lori_bigip stats GET  (returns number of GET requests handled)

@lori_bigip stats POST (returns number of POST requests handled)

@lori_bigip info   (returns version information)

The Twitter bot checks for requests every 150 seconds, so it isn't instantaneous, but it will respond within a couple of minutes.

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