F5 Friday: I Found the Infrastructure Beef

Ask and ye shall receive – F5 joins Microsoft’s Dynamic Data Center Alliance to bring network automation to a Systems Center Operations Manager near you

You may recall that last year Microsoft hopped into Infrastructure 2.0 with its Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit (DDTK) with the intention of providing a framework through which data center infrastructure could be easily automated and processes orchestrated as a means to leverage auto-scaling and faster, easier provisioning of virtualized (and non-virtualized in some cases) resources. You may also recall a recent F5 Friday post on F5’s Management pack capabilities regarding monitoring and automatic provisioning based on myriad application-centric statistics.

You might have been thinking that if only the two were more tightly integrated you really could start to execute on that datacenter automation strategy.

Good news! The infrastructure beef is finally here.


I found the infrastructure beef hanging around, waiting to be used. It’s been around for a while hiding under the moniker of “standards-based API” and “SDK” – not just here at F5 but at other industry players’ sites. The control plane, the API, the SDK – whatever you want to call it – is what enables the kind of integration and collaboration necessary to implement a dynamic infrastructure such as is found in cloud computing and virtualization. But that dynamism requires management and monitoring – across compute, network, and storage services – and that means a centralized, extensible management framework into which infrastructure services can be “plugged.”

That’s what F5 is doing with Microsoft.

Recently, Microsoft announced that it would open its Dynamic Datacenter Alliance to technology partners, including the company’s compute, network, and storage partners. F5 is the first ADN (Application Delivery Network) partner in this alliance. Through this alliance and other partnership efforts, F5 plans to further collaborate with Microsoft on solutions that promote the companies’ shared vision of dynamic IT infrastructure.

Microsoft envisions a dynamic datacenter which maximizes the efficiency of IT resource allocation to meet demand for services. In this vision, software and services are delivered through physical or virtualized computing, network and storage solutions unified under the control of an end-to-end management system. That management system monitors the health of the IT environment as well as the software applications and constantly reallocates resources as needed. In order to achieve such a holistic view of the datacenter, solutions must be integrated and collaborative, a la Infrastructure 2.0. The automated decisions made by such a management solution are only as good as the data provided by managed components.

Microsoft’s Dynamic Datacenter Toolkit (DDTK) is a dynamic datacenter framework that enables organizations and providers the means by which they can not only automate virtualized resource provisioning but also manage compute, network, and storage resources. F5 now supports comprehensive integration with Microsoft System Center, Virtual Machine Manager, Windows Hyper-V, and more. Both physical (BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager) and virtual (BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager Virtual Edition) deployment options are fully supported through this integration. The integration with DDTK also provides the management system with the actionable data required to act upon and enforce application scalability and performance policies as determined by administrator-specified thresholds and requirements.

Some of the things you can now do through SCOM include:

  • Discover BIG-IP devices
  • Automatically translate System Center health states for all managed objects
  • Generate alerts and configure thresholds based on any of the shared metrics
  • Use the PowerShell API to configure managed BIG-IPs
  • Generate and customize reports such as bandwidth utilization and device health
  • Automatic object-level configuration synchronization at the device level (across BIG-IP instances/devices)
  • Monitor real-time statistics
  • Manage both BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager and Local Traffic Manager
  • Deepen just-in-time diagnostics through iRules integration by triggering actions in System Center
  • Migrate live virtual machines
  • Network spike monitoring in the virtual machine monitor console, eliminating bottlenecks before they happen

There’s a lot more, but like Power Point it’s never a good idea to over-use bullet points. A more detailed and thorough discussion of the integration can be read at your leisure in the F5 and Microsoft Solution Guide [PDF].

Published May 28, 2010
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