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#devops #management #webperf Cloud makes more urgent the need to consistently manage infrastructure and its policies regardless of where that infrastructure might reside
While the potential for operational policy (performance, security, reliability, access, etc..) diaspora is often mentioned in conjunction with cloud, it remains a very real issue within the traditional data center as well. Introducing cloud-deployed resources and applications only serves to exacerbate the problem.
F5 has long offered a single-pane of glass management solution for F5 systems with Enterprise Manager (EM) and recently introduced significant updates that increase its scope into the cloud and broaden its capabilities to simplify the increasingly complex operational tasks associated with managing security, performance, and reliability in a virtual world.
The latest release of F5 EM includes enhancements to its ability to automate common tasks such as configuring and managing SSL certificates, managing policies, and enabling/disabling resources which assists in automating provisioning and de-provisioning processes as well as automating what many might consider mundane – and yet critical – maintenance window operations.
Updating policies, too, assists in maintaining operational consistency across all F5 solutions – whether in the data center or in the cloud. This is particularly important in the realm of security, where control over access to applications is often far less under the control of IT than even the business would like. Combining F5’s cloud-enabled solutions such as F5 Application Security Manager (ASM) and Access Policy Manager (APM) with the ability for F5 EM to manage such distributed instances in conjunction with data center deployed instances provides for consistent enforcement of security and access policies for applications regardless of their deployment location. For F5 ASM specifically, this extends to Live Signature updates, which can be downloaded by F5 EM and distributed to managed instances of F5 ASM to ensure the most up-to-date security across enterprise concerns.
The combination of centralized management with automation also ensures rapid response to activities such as the publication of CERT advisories. Operators can quickly determine from the centralized inventory the impact of such a vulnerability and take action to redress the situation.
F5 EM also includes an option to provision a Centralized Analytics Module. This module builds on F5’s visibility into application performance based on its strategic location in the architecture – residing in front of the applications for which performance is a concern. Individual instances of F5 solutions can be directed to gather a plethora of application performance related statistics, which is then aggregated and reported on by application in EM’s Centralized Analytics Module.
These metrics enable capacity planning, troubleshooting and can be used in conjunction with broader business intelligence efforts to understand the performance of applications and its related impact whether those applications are in the cloud or in the data center. This global monitoring extends to F5 device health and performance, to ensure infrastructure services scale along with demand.
- Device Level Visibility & Monitoring
- Capacity Planning
- Virtual Level & Pool Member Statistics
- Object Level Visibility
- Near Real-Time Graphics
In addition to monitoring, F5 EM can collect actionable data upon which thresholds can be determined and alerts can be configured.
- Device status change
- SSL certificate expiration
- Software install complete
- Software copy failure
- Statistics data threshold
- Configuration synchronization
- Attack signature update
- Clock skew
When thresholds are reached, triggers send an alert via email, SNMP trap or syslog event. More sophisticated alerting and inclusion in broader automated, operational systems can be achieved by taking advantage of F5’s control-plane API, iControl. F5 EM is further able to proxy iControl-based applications, eliminating the need to communicate directly with each BIG-IP deployed.
OPERATIONAL CONSISTENCY PROXY
By acting as a centralized management and operational console for BIG-IP devices, F5 EM effectively proxies operational consistency across the data center and into the cloud. Its ability to collect and aggregate metrics provides a comprehensive view of application and infrastructure performance across the breadth and depth of the application delivery chain, enabling more rapid response to incidents whether performance or security related.
F5 EM ensures consistency in both infrastructure configuration and operational policies, and actively participates in automation and orchestration efforts that can significantly decrease the pressure on operations when managing the critical application delivery network component of a highly distributed, cross-environment architecture.
- F5 Enterprise Manager Overview
- In 5 Minutes or Less – Enterprise Manager v3.0
- Application Delivery Network Platform Management
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- Applying ‘Centralized Control, Decentralized Execution’ to Network Architecture
- F5 Friday: Avoiding the Operational Debt of Cloud
Five of the top six services critical to cloud are application delivery services and available with F5 BIG-IP.
The big news at MMS 2012 was focused on private cloud and Microsoft’s latest solutions in the space with System Center 2012. Microsoft’s news comes on the heels of IBM’s latest foray with its PureSystems launch at its premiere conference, IBM Pulse.
As has become common, while System Center 2012 addresses the resources most commonly associated with cloud of any kind, compute, and the means by which operational tasks can be codified, automated, and integrated, it does not delve too deeply into the network, leaving that task to its strategic partners.
One of its long-term partners is F5, and we take the task seriously.The benefits of private cloud are rooted in greater economies of scale through broader aggregation and provisioning of resources, as well its ability to provide for flexible and reliable applications that are always available and rely on many of these critical services. Applications are not islands of business functionality, after all; they rely upon a multitude of network-hosted services such as load balancing, identity and access management, and security services to ensure a consistent, secure end-user experience from anywhere, from any device. 5 of the top 6 services seen as most critical to cloud implementations in a 2012 Network World Cloud survey are infrastructure services, all of which are supported by the application delivery tier.
The ability to consistently apply policies governing these aspects of every successful application deployment is critical to keeping the network aligned with the allocation of compute and storage resources. With the network, applications cannot scale, reliability is variable, and security compromised through fragmentation and complexity. The lack of a unified infrastructure architecture reduces the performance, scale, security and flexibility of cloud computing environments, both private and public. Thus, just as we ensure the elasticity and operational benefits associated with a more automated and integrated application delivery strategy for IBM, so have we done with respect to a Microsoft private cloud solution.
BIG-IP Solutions for Microsoft Private Cloud
BIG-IP solutions for Microsoft private cloud take advantage of key features and technologies in BIG-IP version 11.1, including F5’s virtual Clustered MultiprocessingTM (vCMP™) technology, iControl®, F5’s web services-enabled open application programming interface (API), administrative partitioning and server name indication (SNI). Together, these features help reduce the cost and complexity of managing cloud infrastructures in multi-tenant environments. With BIG-IP v11.1, organizations reap the maximum benefits of conducting IT operations and application delivery services in the private cloud. Although these technologies are generally applicable to all cloud implementations – private, public or hybrid – we also announced Microsoft-specific integration and support that enables organizations to ensure the capability to extend automation and orchestration into the application delivery tier for maximum return on investment.
F5 Monitoring Pack for System Center
Provides two-way communication between BIG-IP devices and the System Center management console. Health monitoring, failover, and configuration synchronization of BIG-IP devices, along with customized alerting, Maintenance Mode, and Live Migration, occur within the Operations Manager component of System Center. The F5 Load Balancing Provider for System Center
Enables one-step, automated deployment of load balancing services through direct interoperability between the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012 and BIG-IP devices. BIG-IP devices are managed through the System Center user interface, and administrators can custom-define load balancing services. The Orchestrator component of System Center 2012
Provides F5 traffic management capabilities and takes advantage of workflows designed using the Orchestrator Runbook Designer. These custom workflows can then be published directly into System Center 2012 service catalogs and presented as a standard offering to the organization. This is made possible using the F5 iControl SDK, which gives customers the flexibility to choose a familiar development environment such as the Microsoft .NET Framework programming model or Windows PowerShell scripting.
Private cloud – as an approach to IT operations – calls for transformation of datacenters, leveraging a few specific strategic points of control, to aggregate and continuously re-allocate IT resources as needed in such as way to make software applications more like services that are always on and secured across users and devices. Private cloud itself is not a single, tangible solution today. Today it is a solution comprised of several key components, including power/cooling, compute, storage and network, management and monitoring tools and the the software applications/databases that end users need.
We’ve moved past the hype of private cloud and its potential benefits. Now organizations need a path, clearly marked, to help them build and deploy private clouds.
That’s part of F5’s goal – to provide the blueprints necessary to build out the application delivery tier to ensure a flexible, reliable and scalable foundation for the infrastructure services required to build and deploy private clouds.
The F5 Monitoring Pack for System Center and the F5 PRO-enabled Monitoring Pack for System Center are now available. The F5 Load Balancing Provider for System Center is available as a free download from the F5 DevCentral website. The Orchestrator component of System Center 2012 is based on F5 iControl and Windows PowerShell, and is also free.
Connect with Lori: Connect with F5: Related blogs & articles: Complexity Drives Consolidation At the Intersection of Cloud and Control… F5 Friday: Addressing the Unintended Consequences of Cloud F5 Friday: Workload Optimization with F5 and IBM PureSystems The HTTP 2.0 War has Just Begun F5 Friday: Microsoft and F5 Lync Up on Unified Communications DevCentral Groups – Microsoft / F5 Solutions Webcast: BIG-IP v11 and Microsoft Technologies – Applications Technorati Tags: F5,F5 Friday,MacVittie,Microsoft,MMS 2012,BIG-IP,private cloud computing,cloud computing,devops,automation,orchestration,architecture,System Center 2012,load balancing,security,performance,scalability domain,blog