Upgrading F5 BIG-IP® devices to their latest versions is a complex, multi-step process involving pre-migration validation checks, taking UCS back-ups, storing and managing UCS files, updating the configurations, and followed by post-migration validation checks. The whole process can be daunting and time-consuming when approached manually. In today’s high-pressure digital world, organizations must take advantage of automation and the things it can enable, like software enhancements and completely new capabilities. In this guide, we will examine how an advanced ADC management and automation solution can offer a seamless transition to F5’s latest platforms.
Over the past decade, the application delivery market has experienced serious disruption. With the advent of digital transformation, leading vendors provide advanced solutions to build truly digital businesses. F5 Networks, a global leader in the application delivery controller (ADC) space, helps by building a unified application delivery architecture that provides security, scalability and agility.
Designed to address application delivery challenges, F5’s BIG-IP platform is available in physical, virtual, and cloud editions and is easy to deploy across environments. It offers advanced traffic management, optimization, and security services, the latest version 13 features many cloud, container and security enhancements. However, in order to realize these benefits, organizations must migrate to the latest platform.
Multiple things – outside the upgraded features – can trigger the need for F5 infrastructure consolidation and migration, including the deployment of new applications and services, end-of-life for existing device vendors, or cost optimization plans.
Software upgrades or configuration migrations across F5 environments can be complex, labor-intensive and time-consuming, and often result in SLA breaches. To help minimize the risk of downtime or other challenges, enterprises must make comprehensive planning a critical part of the process. And, to avoid service disruptions and ensure seamless migrations, network teams must consider non-traditional solutions.
Challenges Posed by Software Upgrades and Configuration Migrations
Migrating from older generations of BIG-IP to newer ones, or just upgrading software to its latest version, can be challenging due to the complexity and rich feature set of BIG-IP appliances. Usually software upgrades and configuration migrations involve a lot of planning, coordination, and also their fair share of risk. Enterprises need an advanced solution that is flexible enough to address various challenges posed by upgrades and migrations.
Manual methods lack efficiency
Multiple applications can be hosted by a single server, which may be spread across different data centers. Tracking these applications manually is not only cumbersome, but it’s also time-consuming and error-prone. It is only after migration that a missed dependency is identified, causing irreparable damage to an enterprises reputation.
Taking multiple UCS backups isn’t easy
Generating backups can be just as challenging as processing a critical service request. Configuration backup methods usually include a combination of utilities, scripts and manual tasks, all of which are prone to errors. Using this traditional approach, archives are unorganized and difficult to search for, making it hard to locate the most current configuration backup.
Need for pre-validation and post-validation
When applications are migrated from one data center to another, the IP addresses of the migrated virtual servers may conflict with existing ones. If the conflicts are not resolved in time, both existing and migrated applications will not respond. Troubleshooting or fixing overwritten objects is a complex process that can often end in downtime.
Lack of collaboration
Application and network teams are known to work in silos, which can tend to delay service delivery. Most enterprises use ITSM tools to manage infrastructure changes and migrating a simple virtual server with a new IP address may require multiple tickets. So, without integrating with ITSM and other third-party systems, it can take months to complete the implementation.
The AppViewX Solution: Migration Made Easy
ADC migration can be painless when armed with the right automation solutions. The AppViewX platform is fully integrated with the BIG-IP platform and takes the difficulty out of ADC migration efforts by enabling a simplified and seamless migration process. It helps network teams to upgrade with ease, decommission the legacy systems safely, and ensure the success of your project.
F5 patch and version upgrades can be performed on multiple devices in a single window, all with little to no application downtime. With AppViewX, you can migrate configurations across different platforms ensuring a clean, error-free installation.
Automation through Easy-to-Design Workflows
The AppViewX platform offers an intuitive system for designing self-serviceable, event-driven, intelligent, and automated workflows that integrate with ITSM and other third-party systems, allowing users to handle the whole migration process through a single workflow. It helps to accelerate time-to-value by providing everything necessary for complete out-of-the-box automation of various migration scenarios.
Self-Servicing through Granular Role-based Access Control
Migrations can either be box-level or specific object-level. AppViewX provides granular object-level access control that enables self-servicing to different teams, allowing them to automate services quickly and easily — all on their own. With this granular access, all modules are integrated in the RBAC that allows customization of roles. It could be used by a single operator or for multiple business units, depending on their functionalities and roles.
Initiate Backups with Ease
AppViewX provides an easy way to manage backups on an on-demand or regularly scheduled basis, saving users time and effort. By saving an inventory of device backups, it helps to store configuration data centrally, enabling quick and easy searches. During migration, when a device fails or someone destroys a configuration, you can simply restore the last working one.
Reduced Downtime through Rapid, Bulk Migration
Self-serviceable automation workflows can be custom-designed to either migrate one instance at a time (physical or virtual) or multiple instances simultaneously (i.e. bulk migration). In a bulk migration scenario, a CSV or XLS file with source and destination device details is uploaded into the workflow in a predefined format. AppViewX then provides all necessary validation checks before and after migration, ensuring rapid and efficient delivery. This drastically reduces implementation time and ensures the applications are functioning with zero disruptions.
Customer Success: Leading Biotechnology Company Migrates F5 BIG-IP Configurations in Minutes
One of the leading biotechnology companies expanded on a large scale, and the new acquisition created a need for an automation solution to migrate F5 BIG-IP configurations. The consolidation required the migration of device configurations from the acquired entity’s data center (A) to the existing data center (B). The company had to migrate 700+ applications that were load-balanced in data center A to data center B. Defining, planning, and implementing the migration of major applications is difficult with a manual process. The anticipated process would have been arduous and complex and could have resulted in significant delays.
The company’s network engineer used AppViewX to create several self-serviceable templates to automate the various steps involved in data center migration.
- AppViewX generated a configuration report for F5 devices with complete details of the associated IPs in data center A that needed to be migrated to data center B
- By integrating with SolarWinds, AppViewX generated free IPs to create new VIPs in the new data center B
- AppViewX paved the way to configuration agility, where users can automate modification of existing VIPs, clone an existing VIP with varying parameters, and perform post-validation checks and other configuration changes in data center B to meet business demands
- The client gained the flexibility to migrate individual virtual servers and, in some instances, to perform a bulk migration
- The time it took to migrate 125 virtual servers from one data center to another data center was reduced from two days to 15 minutes, drastically reducing downtime
- Per-application configuration migration time has been reduced from 30 minutes to 5 minutes
- With no more manual migrations, the project was completed with the existing team, resulting in significant cost savings
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Utilizing advanced automation solution can eliminate many of the roadblocks that make BIG-IP migration efforts unnecessarily daunting. Self-serviceable automation workflows make each step easier and can drastically reduce the costs and risks associated with the project.
AppViewX provides the means by which migration to the latest F5’s BIG-IP platform can be fully automated. Whether you are upgrading the software enhancements or migrating configurations from one F5 device to other, using AppViewX can enable complete control and visibility into each and every stage of the delivery process.
To learn more about how AppViewX can help your organization, start our enterprise trial today.