The Hitchhiker’s Guide to BIG-IP in Azure – “Life Cycle Management”

Hello fellow travelers and welcome to the fourth and final installment of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to BIG-IP in Azure”. In the spirit of teamwork, (and because he’s an even bigger Sci-fi nerd than me), I’ve asked my colleague, Patrick Merrick , to provide the commentary for this final installment. Take it away Patrick!

Hi travelers! No doubt you have been following the evolution of this blog series as Greg navigated Azure specific topics describing how cloud based services differ from our traditional understanding of how we position the BIG-IP in an on premises’ deployment. If not I have provided the predecessors to this post below for your enjoyment!

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to BIG-IP in Azure
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to BIG-IP in Azure – “Deployment Scenarios”
  3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to BIG-IP in Azure – “High Availability”

To carry on the theme, I have decided to also take a page from the legendary author Douglas Adams to help explain F5’s position on life cycle management.

Life cycle management historically can be likened to the Infinite Improbability Drive. Regardless of best intentions, you rarely end up in the space the you had intended, but generally where you needed to be. For those of you who are not “in the know”, I have left a brief description of said improbability drive below.

“The infinite improbability drive is a wonderful new method of crossing interstellar distances in a mere nothing of a second, without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace. It was discovered by lucky chance, and then developed into a governable form of propulsion by the Galactic Government's research centre on Damogran.”   - Douglas Adams,  “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”

In my previous life, I was a consultant and have had the duty of integrating solutions into previously architected infrastructures without causing disruption to end users. In this “new’ish” world of Dev Ops or “Life at cloud speed”, we are discovering that Life Cycle management isn’t necessarily tied to major releases and minor updates. With that said let’s dispense with the Vogon bureaucratic method, grab our towels and wade into deep water.

“According to the Guide, the Vogons are terribly bureaucratic and mean. They're not going to break the rules in order to help you. On the other hand, they're not exactly evil—they're not going to break the rules in order to harm you, either. Still, it may be hard to remember that when you're being chased by the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal while the Vogons are busy going through the appropriate forms”  - Douglas Adams,  “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”

Azure Instance Type Upgrades

As you have come to expect F5 has published recommendations for configuring your instance in Azure, Your instance configuration will rely largely on what modules you would like to provision in your infrastructure, but this topic is well covered in the following link BIG-IP® Virtual Edition and Microsoft Azure as always what is not “YET” covered in the deployment guide can likely be found on DevCentral. If you were to find yourself in a scenario where you need to manipulate an instance of BIG-IP this process has been well documented by TechNet How to: Change the Size of a Windows Azure Virtual Machine and can be achieved by utilizing the following mechanisms.

Azure Management Portal

There is little bureaucracy from the management portal aside from logging in and choosing your desired settings. whether you are looking to increase cores or memory and then ultimately choosing the ‘Save’ button you are well served here.

PowerShell Script

One could argue that there is a bit more Vogon influence here, but I would contest that your flexibility from the programmatic perspective is significantly more robust. Aside from being confined by PowerShell parameters and variables, but also well outlined in the TechNet article above.

BIG-IP OS Upgrades

More good news! But first another Douglas Adams quote.

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”  - Douglas Adams “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”

Upgrading a BIG-IP in Azure is no different than updating any VE or our physical appliances for that matter.

  1. Download the ISO and MD5 files.
  2. Install the downloaded files to an inactive boot location.
  3. Boot the BIG-IP VE to the new boot location.

Tip: If there is a problem during installation, you can use log messages to troubleshoot a solution. The system stores the installation log file as /var/log/liveinstall.log.

If you are new to this process, more detailed information can be found by reviewing yet another knowledge center article;  Updating and Upgrading BIG-IP VE.

Utilize traditional recommended best practices

I don’t normally start paragraphs off with a quote but when I do its Douglas Adams.

“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

- Douglas Adams,  “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”

Before attempting any of the aforementioned solutions please be sure that you have a valid backup of your configuration Backing up your BIG-IP system configuration.

A/S upgrade

In this scenario, you would have a device group that also has ConfigSync enabled. This is a high-availability feature that synchronizes configuration changes from one BIG-IP to the other This feature ensures that the BIG-IP device group members maintain the same configuration data and work in tandem to more efficiently process application traffic.

At a high level, we will start with the passive node first and use the following steps to accomplish this task. More detailed information can be found by reviewing the following article Introduction to upgrading version 11.x, or later, BIG-IP software.

  1. Preparing BIG-IP modules for an upgrade
  2. Preparing BIG-IP device groups for an upgrade
  3. Upgrading each device within the device group
  4. Changing states of the traffic groups
  5. Configuring HA groups (if applicable)
  6. Configuring module-specific settings
  7. Verifying the software upgrade for the device group


Additional Links:

Published Jun 28, 2017
Version 1.0

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