Virtualization has lots of advantages and this is the main reason why most services are already virtualized. I didn’t know anything about virtualization when I finished my degree at University but later on I started working as a system administrator where I learnt about virtualization with XenServer and VMware. I realised the powerful of virtualization. Most web servers and applications were virtualized which was easier to manage. Today, there are Virtual Networks Everywhere thus firewalls, load balancers, etc are also virtualized.

I still remember the first time I installed and configured a pair of Radware Alteon 5224 XL. It was five years ago. It is an appliance which supports virtual load balancers. Therefore, I created load balancers instances in the Radware Hypervisor. However, I’m right now in a new project with a pair of F5 BIG-IP i5800 where we are going to configure load balancers instances in the BIG-IP. Both vendors have hypervisors for virtualization but with different concepts. For example, virtual load balancers are called vADC instances in Radware while vCMP guests in F5.

Radware ADC virtualization infrastructure

vCMP or Virtual Clustered Multiprocessing is a feature of BIG-IP where we can deploy several instances of BIG-IP in a hardware platform. Therefore, we can allocate CPU, memory and disk to a virtual machine which run the TMOS operating system. This is useful because we can have a virtual machine for each application. For instance, a virtual machine for eCommerce, another for Oracle, etc. If we have to upgrade firmware for whatever in an application, we can do it without service interruption in another application.

Example of a four-guest vCMP system

You maybe are wondering how networks are configured. There is a true multi-tenant environment where guest administrators can’t configure layer 2 settings thus it has to be configured by the host administrator. Therefore, the host administrator have to configure VLANs and Trunks while guest administrators will configure the layer 3 settings such as Self IP Addresses, Virtual Servers, etc. It’s important to highlight the management network can be isolated or bridged between guests. However, it’s highly recommended to configure the management network in bridge mode.

Isolation of network objects on the vCMP system

When you are planning to configure vCMP in a BIG-IP appliance, or in a VIPRION chassis, you should take into account the amount of CPU and Memory you have for guest instances because it is limited. For example, if the hardware appliance has 8 cores and 48 GB RAM, we won’t be able to allocate more hardware than that. In addition, once the guest instance is running, we can’t allocate more CPU or Memory to that instance because it’s already deployed. If we want more CPU or Memory, we’ll have to stop the guest instance for reconfiguration.

Three guests with varying amounts of core allocation
To sum up, vCMP is an interesting feature to run hosted instances of the BIG-IP software on a single hardware platform. Once the instance is running, we’ll configure the guest as any other BIG-IP. For example, it’s interesting to configure an active-standby cluster between instances because there is no high availability configuration for hypervisors.

Regards my friends. Go ahead!!