Welcome to the inaugural iHealth post (for the http nerds, yes, pun intended). This series will be an exploration and explanation of the iHealth Application Programming Interface (API), and how making the iHealth API a part of your datacenter ecosystem can bring you good fortune, reduce your downtime, help prevent emergency RMAs, and cook your emergency bacon.
But before we get to the emergency bacon (spoiler: there is no emergency bacon), let's start with the basic building blocks and concepts that we'll be talking about, just so there is no regrettable misunderstandings later in the series.
Let's start with the foundation of this series: iHealth.
If you've spent much time with F5 gear (actual hardware or virtual editions it doesn't matter) in the last couple years, or had any interactions with the F5 support teams, you may have at least heard of iHealth. iHealth is a free, F5 hosted web application that provides deep inspection of BIG-IP, BIG-IQ, and Enterprise Manager system data. We want to help you monitor your systems, tune up your configurations, provide a distant early warning system, and help you keep on top of any issues or opportunities we can.
The most important part of that deep inspection that iHealth provides are our Diagnostics. As of this writing, we've got over 900 diagnostic tests that are run against all that system data. Each diagnostic is specifically targeted to look for a very specific issue, or inform you about a particular configuration optimization, or warn you about a particular security vulnerability.
We don't just warn you, or offer generic advice however. We also provide the specific items in your configuration that might be susceptible, or in need of a little love, and we provide extensive [Ask F5] solution articles to back up each Diagnostic to ensure that you have all the context, details, and knowledge to get things fixed up before they become a bigger problem.
The F5 iHealth team releases new and updated Diagnostics every week, so the list of Diagnostics that are 'hits' (identify your gear as exhibiting the symptoms the diagnostic is looking for), may change from week to week. We get ideas for Diagnostics from all over F5, as well as from our customers (that's you). Got an idea of something you want iHealth to check for on all your machines? Jump into iHealth and hit the feedback button, and describe what you want to do. That feedback button creates a ticket that the F5 iHealth team will follow up on.
The far-seeing among us might postulate that doing weekly checks of our gear might be a great way to keep our ship running tight with very little cost.
That would be an astute observation indeed, and this article series will address that observation in some detail in the weeks to follow.
iHealth has lots of other uses as well, but the Diagnostics are the crown jewel in the iHealth tiara.
You can start using this tool, if you haven't already, by visiting https://ihealth.f5.com/. You might have to create a (free) account, but that's the only obstacle. We'll be depending on your access to your iHealth account for the duration of this series, so if you don't have an account, go sign up for one now.
After you get your account, you can access https://ihealth.f5.com/ and you'll notice there is a sample QKView in your account already. We provision a sample in there to give you something to work with immediately, and, conveniently, it will give us a data set to use for the rest of this series.
The UI is fairly extensive, and gives you lots of information about your machine, including things like End of Life notices for your hardware and software, if you've got a support contract, we let you know when that contract ends, as well as displaying lots of information about your F5 gear. Customizable performance graphs? Yup. Command-line output at the moment the QKView was taken? Yup. Diagnostics? Yup, we already covered that. Configuration information? Yup.
So if all that data is already available, why am I bothering with an API? Well, the rest of the series should help illuminate the answer to that question, and you'll end up writing a basic application to make use of all the data iHealth provides, which should give you plenty of ideas about how iHealth in all it's forms can be an incredibly helpful tool.