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Installing F5 BIG-IP Load Balancers

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F5 BIG-IP is an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) that offers a broad set of advanced production-grade traffic management and security services like L4-L7 load balancing, SSL/TLS offload, DNS, firewall and many more. These services drastically increase the availability, security and performance of your applications.

F5 BIG-IP can be deployed and consumed in various ways, on dedicated hardware, in the cloud, or as a virtual appliance on-premises. Refer to the documentation here to explore and deploy F5 BIG-IP as per requirement.

For efficient integration of F5 BIG-IP services with Red Hat OpenShift, F5 offers the BIG-IP Container Ingress Service (CIS). CIS is installed as a controller pod that watches OpenShift API for certain Custom Resource Definitions (CRDs) and manages the F5 BIG-IP system configuration. F5 BIG-IP CIS can be configured to control service types LoadBalancers and Routes in OpenShift.

Further, for automatic IP address allocation to service the type LoadBalancer, you can utilize the F5 IPAM controller. The F5 IPAM controller is installed as a controller pod that watches OpenShift API for LoadBalancer services with an ipamLabel annotation to allocate the IP address from a preconfigured pool.

This page lists the installation and configuration instructions for F5 BIG-IP CIS and IPAM controller. As a prerequisite, you must have an F5 BIG-IP system deployed and licensed. It must also be licensed for SDN services, which are included by default with the BIG-IP VE base license.

Note F5 BIG-IP can be deployed in standalone or cluster mode. For the purpose of this validation, F5 BIG-IP was deployed in standalone mode, but, for production purposes, it is preferred to have a cluster of BIG-IPs to avoid a single point of failure.
Note An F5 BIG-IP system can be deployed on dedicated hardware, in the cloud, or as a virtual appliance on-premises with versions greater than 12.x for it to be integrated with F5 CIS. For the purpose of this document, the F5 BIG-IP system was validated as a virtual appliance, for example using the BIG-IP VE edition.

Validated releases


Software version

Red Hat OpenShift

4.6 EUS, 4.7

F5 BIG-IP VE edition


F5 Container Ingress Service


F5 IPAM Controller


F5 AS3



  1. Install the F5 Application Services 3 extension to allow BIG-IP systems to accept configurations in JSON instead of imperative commands. Go to F5 AS3 GitHub repository, and download the latest RPM file.

  2. Log into F5 BIG-IP system, navigate to iApps > Package Management LX and click Import.

  3. Click Choose File and select the downloaded AS3 RPM file, click OK, and then click Upload.

    iApps upload

  4. Confirm that the AS3 extension is installed successfully.

    AS3 install validation

  5. Next configure the resources required for communication between OpenShift and BIG-IP systems. First create a tunnel between OpenShift and the BIG-IP server by creating a VXLAN tunnel interface on the BIG-IP system for OpenShift SDN. Navigate to Network > Tunnels > Profiles, click Create, and set the Parent Profile to vxlan and the Flooding Type to Multicast. Enter a name for the profile and click Finished.

    Create VXLAN profile

  6. Navigate to Network > Tunnels > Tunnel List, click Create, and enter the name and local IP address for the tunnel. Select the tunnel profile that was created in the previous step and click Finished.

    Create VXLAN tunnel

  7. Log into the Red Hat OpenShift cluster with cluster-admin privileges.

  8. Create a hostsubnet on OpenShift for the F5 BIG-IP server, which extends the subnet from the OpenShift cluster to the F5 BIG-IP server. Download the host subnet YAML definition.

  9. Edit the host subnet file and add the BIG-IP VTEP (VXLAN tunnel) IP for the OpenShift SDN.

    apiVersion: v1
    kind: HostSubnet
      name: f5-server
      annotations: "0" "true"
    # provide a name for the node that will serve as BIG-IP's entry into the cluster
    host: f5-server
    # The hostIP address will be the BIG-IP interface address routable to the
    # OpenShift Origin nodes.
    # This address is the BIG-IP VTEP in the SDN's VXLAN.
    Note Change the hostIP and other details as applicable to your environment.
  10. Create the HostSubnet resource.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create -f f5-kctlr-openshift-hostsubnet.yaml created
  11. Get the cluster IP subnet range for the host subnet created for the F5 BIG-IP server.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc get hostsubnet
    NAME                         HOST                         HOST IP         SUBNET          EGRESS CIDRS   EGRESS IPS
    f5-server                    f5-server          
    ocp-vmw-nszws-master-0       ocp-vmw-nszws-master-0
    ocp-vmw-nszws-master-1       ocp-vmw-nszws-master-1
    ocp-vmw-nszws-master-2       ocp-vmw-nszws-master-2
    ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-r8fh4   ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-r8fh4
    ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-tvr46   ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-tvr46
    ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-wdxhg   ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-wdxhg
    ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-wg8r4   ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-wg8r4
    ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-wtgfw   ocp-vmw-nszws-worker-wtgfw
  12. Create a self IP on OpenShift VXLAN with an IP in OpenShift’s host subnet range corresponding to the F5 BIG-IP server. Log into the F5 BIG-IP system, navigate to Network > Self IPs and click Create. Enter an IP from the cluster IP subnet created for F5 BIG-IP host subnet, select the VXLAN tunnel, and enter the other details. Then click Finished.

    Create Self IP for VXLAN

  13. Create a partition in the F5 BIG-IP system to be configured and used with CIS. Navigate to System > Users > Partition List, click Create, and enter the details. Then click Finished.

    Create BIG-IP Partition

    Note F5 recommends that no manual configuration be done on the partition that is managed by CIS.
  14. Install the F5 BIG-IP CIS using the operator from OperatorHub. Log into the Red Hat OpenShift cluster with cluster-admin privileges and create a secret with F5 BIG-IP system login credentials, which is a prerequisite for the operator.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create secret generic bigip-login -n kube-system --from-literal=username=admin --from-literal=password=admin
    secret/bigip-login created
  15. Install the F5 CIS CRDs.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc apply -f created created created created created
  16. Navigate to Operators > OperatorHub, search for the keyword F5, and click the F5 Container Ingress Service tile.

    F5 CIS in OperatorHub

  17. Read the operator information and click Install.

    F5 CIS Info tile in OperatorHub

  18. On the Install operator screen, leave all default parameters, and click Install.

    Install F5 CIS operator

  19. It takes a while to install the operator.

    F5 CIS Operator install progress

  20. After the operator is installed, the Installation Successful message is displayed.

  21. Navigate to Operators > Installed Operators, click F5 Container Ingress Service, and then click Create Instance under the F5BigIpCtlr tile.

    Create F5BigIpCtlr

  22. Click YAML View and paste the following content after updating the necessary parameters.

    Note Update the parameters bigip_partition, ` openshift_sdn_name`, bigip_url and bigip_login_secret below to reflect the values for your setup before copying the content.
    kind: F5BigIpCtlr
      name: f5-server
      namespace: openshift-operators
        log_as3_response: true
        agent: as3
        log_level: DEBUG
        bigip_partition: ocp-vmw
        openshift_sdn_name: /Common/openshift_vxlan
        insecure: true
        pool-member-type: cluster
        custom_resource_mode: true
        as3_validation: true
        ipam: true
        manage_configmaps: true
      bigip_login_secret: bigip-login
        pullPolicy: Always
        repo: f5networks/cntr-ingress-svcs
      namespace: kube-system
        create: true
      resources: {}
        create: true
      version: latest
  23. After pasting this content, click Create. This installs the CIS pods in the kube-system namespace.

    Validate F5 CIS pods

    Note Red Hat OpenShift, by default, provides a way to expose the services via Routes for L7 load balancing. An inbuilt OpenShift router is responsible for advertising and handling traffic for these routes. However, you can also configure the F5 CIS to support the Routes through an external F5 BIG-IP system, which can run either as an auxiliary router or a replacement to the self-hosted OpenShift router. CIS creates a virtual server in the BIG-IP system that acts as a router for the OpenShift routes, and BIG-IP handles the advertisement and traffic routing. Refer to the documentation here for information on parameters to enable this feature. Note that these parameters are defined for OpenShift Deployment resource in the apps/v1 API. Therefore, when using these with the F5BigIpCtlr resource API, replace the hyphens (-) with underscores (_) for the parameter names.
  24. The arguments that are passed to the creation of CIS resources include ipam: true and custom_resource_mode: true. These parameters are required for enabling CIS integration with an IPAM controller. Verify that the CIS has enabled IPAM integration by creating the F5 IPAM resource.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc get f5ipam -n kube-system
    NAMESPACE   NAME                       	 	AGE
    kube-system   ipam.  	 43s
  25. Create the service account, role and rolebinding required for the F5 IPAM controller. Create a YAML file and paste the following content.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ vi f5-ipam-rbac.yaml
    kind: ClusterRole
      name: ipam-ctlr-clusterrole
      - apiGroups: [""]
        resources: ["ipams","ipams/status"]
        verbs: ["get", "list", "watch", "update", "patch"]
    kind: ClusterRoleBinding
      name: ipam-ctlr-clusterrole-binding
      namespace: kube-system
      kind: ClusterRole
      name: ipam-ctlr-clusterrole
      - apiGroup: ""
        kind: ServiceAccount
        name: ipam-ctlr
        namespace: kube-system
    apiVersion: v1
    kind: ServiceAccount
      name: ipam-ctlr
      namespace: kube-system
  26. Create the resources.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create -f f5-ipam-rbac.yaml created created
    serviceaccount/ipam-ctlr created
  27. Create a YAML file and paste the F5 IPAM deployment definition provided below.

    Note Update the ip-range parameter in spec.template.spec.containers[0].args below to reflect the ipamLabels and IP address ranges corresponding to your setup.
    Note ipamLabels [range1 and range2 in below example] are required to be annotated for the services of type LoadBalancer for the IPAM controller to detect and assign an IP address from the defined range.
    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ vi f5-ipam-deployment.yaml
    apiVersion: apps/v1
    kind: Deployment
        name: f5-ipam-controller
      name: f5-ipam-controller
      namespace: kube-system
      replicas: 1
          app: f5-ipam-controller
          creationTimestamp: null
            app: f5-ipam-controller
          - args:
            - --orchestration=openshift
            - --ip-range='{"range1":"", "range2":""}'
            - --log-level=DEBUG
            - /app/bin/f5-ipam-controller
            imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
            name: f5-ipam-controller
          dnsPolicy: ClusterFirst
          restartPolicy: Always
          schedulerName: default-scheduler
          securityContext: {}
          serviceAccount: ipam-ctlr
          serviceAccountName: ipam-ctlr
  28. Create the F5 IPAM controller deployment.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create -f f5-ipam-deployment.yaml
    deployment/f5-ipam-controller created
  29. Verify the F5 IPAM controller pods are running.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc get pods -n kube-system
    NAME                                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
    f5-ipam-controller-5986cff5bd-2bvn6        1/1     Running   0          30s
    f5-server-f5-bigip-ctlr-5d7578667d-qxdgj   1/1     Running   0          14m
  30. Create the F5 IPAM schema.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create -f


  1. Create a service of type LoadBalancer

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ vi example_svc.yaml
    apiVersion: v1
    kind: Service
      annotations: range1
        app: f5-demo-test
      name: f5-demo-test
      namespace: default
      - name: f5-demo-test
        port: 80
        protocol: TCP
        targetPort: 80
        app: f5-demo-test
      sessionAffinity: None
      type: LoadBalancer
    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create -f example_svc.yaml
    service/f5-demo-test created
  2. Check if the IPAM controller assigns an external IP to it.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc get svc
    NAME           TYPE           CLUSTER-IP       EXTERNAL-IP                            PORT(S)        AGE
    f5-demo-test   LoadBalancer                          80:32605/TCP   27s
  3. Create a deployment and use the LoadBalancer service that was created.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ vi example_deployment.yaml
    apiVersion: apps/v1
    kind: Deployment
        app: f5-demo-test
      name: f5-demo-test
      replicas: 2
          app: f5-demo-test
            app: f5-demo-test
          - env:
            - name: service_name
              value: f5-demo-test
            image: nginx
            imagePullPolicy: Always
            name: f5-demo-test
            - containerPort: 80
              protocol: TCP
    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc create -f example_deployment.yaml
    deployment/f5-demo-test created
  4. Check if the pods are running.

    [admin@rhel-7 ~]$ oc get pods
    NAME                            READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
    f5-demo-test-57c46f6f98-47wwp   1/1     Running   0          27s
    f5-demo-test-57c46f6f98-cl2m8   1/1     Running   0          27s
  5. Check if the corresponding virtual server is created in the BIG-IP system for the service of type LoadBalancer in OpenShift. Navigate to Local Traffic > Virtual Servers > Virtual Server List.

    Validate the creation of BIG-IP virtual servers for corresponding service type LoadBalancer