DevCentral Basics - Your First 30 Days with BIG-IP

Your introduction to F5's BIG-IP platform may be a well-planned training schedule around a large datacenter project.  Or, like me, you showed up for work and there was a large box in your cube with a note from your boss saying "Come see me".  If you're in the latter category you may need some assistance getting up and running and finding the proper resources to understand, implement, and troubleshoot your new BIG-IP environment.  Lets point you to the right places to get you installed and running and show you where the most valuable resources are.

 

F5 BIG-IP Physical Installation

Depending on what platform you received and if you're running HA configurations, make yourself a checklist of everything purchased and needed to ensure a quick and painless install.  Nothings worse than getting everything racked and realizing your fans are blowing backwards or you forgot to order the correct SFPs.  Platform guides are available based on the version of BIG-IP running.

 

F5 BIG-IP Product Support - Select your BIG-IP version and scroll down to see the supported platform list.  These documents will include power and physical requirements, supported blades, SFP support, and cabling considerations.  This is the checklist you'll want to prepare before you start building your applications.

All hardware ships with the current release of software but you may need to install a hotfix if it was released recently and not rolled up into the base version.  Understanding the build version and find out how to view the software version will be very helpful when downloading and updating BIG-IP.

BIG-IP Systems: Upgrading Software - If you determine you need to update your software, follow the upgrade documentation so you're running on current software before you go live; and before you need to call support.

 

F5 BIG-IP Virtual Installation

F5 provides images for several flavors of virtualization.  From VMware ESX/i and Citrix XenServer, to KVM and custom images for Azure and AWS, we should have your virtual machine needs covered.  Download the appropriate image and follow along the corresponding installation guide to get you up and running in no time.

  1. Create an account on support.f5.com:  You'll need a support account to download BIG-IP images, hotfixes, and other stuff like iApp templates.  This is NOT your DevCentral account.
  2. Validate your hypervisor version against the BIG-IP compatibility matrix
  3. Select your version of BIG-IP from the Downloads menu
  4. Select the BIG-IP image for your flavor of hypervisor.  MD5 files are available to verify the integrity of your download.
  5. Follow one of the BIG-IP Virtual Edition Setup Guides according to your selected hypervisor
    BIG-IP Virtual Edition Setup Guide for VMware ESXi
    BIG-IP Virtual Edition and Citrix XenServer: Setup
    BIG-IP Virtual Edition and Linux KVM: Setup
    BIG-IP Virtual Edition and Microsoft Azure: Setup
    BIG-IP Virtual Edition and Amazon Web Services: Setup
     

 

Where to Find Documentation and Training Information
  • Support.f5.com:  You're starting to notice a trend; we have a lot of quality documentation on support.f5.com.  This is the authoritative source of support information for the F5 family of products and features.  It includes a knowledge base, downloads, and product documentation.  Just use the search to get up and running quickly.
  • DevCentral: Leveraging the vast expertise of our users, DevCentral is F5's community website and the best source of practical real-world experience.  Ask and answer questions, read articles from various technical experts within F5, and learn how to programmatically make your BIG-IP a customized workhorse in your datacenter.  You're reading this so you're already familiar with the site.  Keep exploring!
  • F5 University:  F5 University is a great starting point if you are unfamiliar with BIG-IP and the various modules you're licensed to use.  Setup a basic LTM config or deploy ASM policies, you can watch step-by-step instruction-lead videos so you can get the most out of your BIG-IP.

 

How to Contact Support

You have a support contract with your new BIG-IP purchase; use it.  Don't get frustrated, get answers.  You can contact support via the following methods:

Support will always ask for some detail on your system so it's helpful to have this information available when you start the case.  It's always better to be over-prepared with as much detail as possible.

 

What Else?

Integrating your BIG-IP into a software development lifecycle or infrastructure SLA will require you to bridge knowledge gaps between the network admin, security architect, system admin, and application developer.  Having skills to troubleshoot the full application stack is very helpful in solving problems and implementing streamlined solutions for you and your customers.  Here's a couple things to get you started down the path towards BIG-IP hero.

  • F5 BIG-IP Virtual Edition Developer Lab License - The key to any DevOps SDLC.  Give your developers and network teams access to some lab editions of BIG-IP.  This removes a lot of heartache and guesswork from deployments because you've already completed it in lower environments.  Does that ASM policy work for the new updates the web designers created?  You can find out before your customers do with BIG-IP Developer Lab edition.
  • F5 Certification -  F5 offers a certification path for administrators looking to promote their technical savvy.  Start with the 101 and 201 certification test to become an F5 Certified Administrator.  Keep learning and testing further to shoot for the elusive F5 Certified Solution Expert.
  • iHealth - BIG-IP iHealth inspects your systems via qkview files and displays useful information about system health, security updates, licensing information and configuration details.  iHealth can provide recommended resolutions to issues found during inspection.
  • F5’s Github -  From Openstack solutions, to Azure and AWS deployment templates, our F5 developers are always working and offering up useful ways to ease and improve your BIG-IP's value.  Browse the  repositories and let us know what else you'd like to see!
  • DevCentral's Github - The DevCentral team provides a little more relaxed codesharing atmosphere than our official F5 Git environment.  Come on over and see what we and the community is working on.  From Anisble playbooks to Vagrant packer templates, we're having a good time seeing what we can do with BIG-IP.