on 22-Apr-2020 12:59
This article series will detail how you can deploy F5 into a public cloud leveraging cloud templates. This article will first cover some of the basic concepts, and we then go into some deployment guidance specific for the most common public clouds. In this article series, we will be using F5 cloud templates (available on GitHub) to modify the BIG-IP versions for your public cloud deployments. I will also share a few ways to use cloud templates in order to deploy the latest or previous stable releases of BIG-IP.
Given the range of F5 products and the numerous public cloud providers, the F5 product teams have created quite the collection of cloud templates. These are located on GitHub with various BIG-IP templates for each cloud provider. Each template enables you to deploy BIG-IP devices in your cloud environment using different designs, licensing models, and features like load balancing, web application security, or all the BIG-IP modules - all these across a range of BIG-IP versions!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with our F5 cloud templates, I encourage you to head over to GitHub and review the available templates. Each template has a corresponding README with relevant install info. These templates take care of various dependencies like network setup, access list updates, public IP creation, BIG-IP creation, HA cluster, auto scale, and more.
Also...head over to F5 CloudDocs for BIG-IP virtual edition (VE) for some quickstart installation and docs. F5 CloudDocs is a key resource that details important features, capabilities and usage guidance across the range of F5’s Cloud offerings.
If you find yourself running into issues and require support, don't hesitate to open a GitHub issue on the relevant repo and create a GitHub "issue". You also have the ability to create a ticket with F5 support on https://support.f5.com. Review the F5 support policies regarding GitHub F5 repositories to learn what is and is not covered. When in doubt, reach out to your friendly F5 account team!
Each cloud provider has a public marketplace where vendors like F5 can upload images of their products, like BIG-IP. The cloud provider marketplace can be used as an image repository...with some important caveats, of course. The marketplace for each cloud provider has limits on the number of images for each vendor. As new versions of BIG-IP are released, F5 removes previous versions from marketplace to make room for the new versions. Customers relying on previous BIG-IP releases are encouraged to archive those specific BIG-IP versions in their own private image repository for each cloud provider. You can do this by uploading a BIG-IP cloud image to the cloud provider. It then becomes an available image ID for deployment. Grab these images from https://download.f5.com and look for your specific cloud provider.
There are two types of “versions” to discuss. One...the F5 cloud template versions. Two...the BIG-IP version.
The F5 cloud templates are updated regularly and tagged with a release number. The templates are tested against the latest (aka newest) BIG-IP version available in marketplace at the time of template release and allow the user to select other versions of BIG-IP too. There is a Template-to-BIG-IP Version matrix for each cloud provider, and this tells you the various template versions and BIG-IP versions supported for that specific template release. It is recommended to always use the latest template release because it includes the most recent template fixes and improvements. You can select the matrix links below and then click on the tag/release version to see release notes.
As for BIG-IP versions and what is supported in each cloud provider, please review the BIG-IP VE Support Platforms. This will list the recommended instance types/sizes and licensing for each cloud provider.
Note: Best practice is to always use the latest templates as they are most up to date with the latest features and fixes for templated deployment of BIG-IP devices. This article series has workarounds that I have tested in my lab in order to help you deploy various versions of BIG-IP. If you decide to use a previous template version, then check the release notes to determine if your deployment is affected by any of the items noted (features, fixes, workarounds).
All that talk about vendor images, public marketplace, private images...oh my! What happens if you need to customize your own image, patch it, do something magical to it? What happens if the image you need on public marketplace is no longer there? Enter the F5 Custom Image Builder! Use the F5 BIG-IP Image Generator Tool to create custom images from the .ISO file for F5 BIG-IP VE releases or for hot-fixes. You can then upload that image to the cloud provider and reference it in your template deployments.
The F5 Virtual Edition (VE) team developed the F5 BIG-IP Image Generator internally to do the following:
In the rest of the articles in this series, I will discuss HOW TO modify cloud templates to change BIG-IP versions for AWS, Azure, and Google cloud offerings.
Stay tuned for the next set of articles to learn the How-To for AWS, Azure, and Google BIG-IP templates. I show you how to use templates to get a v12, v13, v14 BIG-IP. If you want to run v15, no problem!