Archive for silva

Q/A with Betsson’s Patrik Jonsson - DevCentral’s Featured Member for April

Posted in f5, big-ip, silva, devcentral, infrastructure, games by psilva on April 4th, 2017

 

 

patrik.jpgPatrik Jonsson lives in Stockholm with his wife and son and works as a network engineer for a company providing online casino games across the world.

Outside work, he likes to spend time with his family, play around with his home VMware lab and enjoys watching movies. He also loves travelling and having a beer with friends.

Patrik is also a 2017 DevCentral MVP and DevCentral’s Featured Member for April! DevCentral got a chance to talk with Patrik about his work, life and his project the BIG-IP Report.

DevCentral: You’ve been a very active contributor to the DevCentral community and wondered what keeps you involved?

Patrik: One of the best, and fun ways to learn new things is to take on problems, or discussions presented by fellow technicians. It forces you to continuously challenge what you think you know and keeps your knowledge up to date. In addition, when I need input, or help myself, DevCentral has so many brilliant and helpful members ready to take on whatever you throw at them.

DC: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

PJ: The first time I ran into a BIG-IP was just after I graduated from university. It was a 1000 series running BIG-IP v4. When I quit that job 6 years later I considered asking to bring it home with me, but somehow my girlfriend at the time was not as keen to the idea. Still don’t know why. :-)

I’ve been working mostly with BIG-IP LTM and iControl, but recently I’ve started to dabble a bit with APM, GTM/DNS and ASM as well.

DC: You are a Network Security Specialist at Betsson. Can you describe your typical workday?

PJ: At Betsson you never know what’s going to happen when you step into the office. The gaming industry has very tough competition and getting comfortable as one of the bigger players around is not an option since rivals are always ready to take your place. This, combined with awesome colleagues, makes it a joy to step into the office every morning.

DC: Describe one of your biggest BIG-IP challenges and how DevCentral helped in that situation.


betsson_logo.jpgPJ:
Being a multinational company with offices supporting multiple brands, one of the biggest challenges we have is knowledge sharing. Giving the developers the correct information when they need it is vital for an efficient application delivery. In order to provide this, we have used iRules to present troubleshooting information in the form of custom headers so developers can see which pool and member that responded to their request and the current status of all members. We also have a smarter version of the traditional sorry page which shows information about the failed pool and what’s being monitored. And then of course, BIG-IP Report.

All of these are using iRules and iControl and would not have been possible without the DevCentral API documentation and of course, my hero Joe Pruitt.

DC: What can readers learn from your blog: https://loadbalancing.se/ and what is the BIG-IP Report?

PJ: My blog is where I post ideas and projects that I have. There’s a BIG-IP APM + Google Authenticator guide, F5 Web UI augmentation script for version 11 and a few other things.

BIG-IP Report was born out of a need to show people the load balancing configuration in a simple manner without giving them access to the BIG-IP interface. After implementing it we have gone from developers asking us where things are, to instead them telling us about bad configuration. We also discovered that it is awesome for us as well, as we can get an overview of the configuration across multiple devices. Finding a specific VIP, or pool is so much easier when the information is in one place.

I guess the best way to understand it is to try it at http://loadbalancing.se/bigipreportdemo/

The blog is not updated that often, so it’s safe to subscribe without getting too much spam.

DC: Lastly, if you weren’t an IT admin – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

PJ: I think my dream would be working with a non-profit organization helping people in need. I love travelling and combining that with something meaningful would be really nice.

Thanks Patrik! Check out all of Patrik’s DevCentral contributions, check out his blog, or connect on LinkedIn. And visit Betsson on the web or follow on Twitter.

 

 




Lightboard Lessons: Service Consolidation on BIG-IP

Posted in f5, adc, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, infrastructure, consolidate by psilva on March 29th, 2017

The Consolidation of point devices and services in your datacenter or cloud can help with cost, complexity, efficiency, management, provisioning and troubleshooting your infrastructure and systems.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I light up many of the services you can consolidate on BIG-IP.

ps

 

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What is a Proxy?

Posted in Uncategorized, security, big-ip, silva, application delivery, devcentral, proxy by psilva on March 28th, 2017

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The term ‘Proxy’ is a contraction that comes from the middle English word procuracy, a legal term meaning to act on behalf of another. You may have heard of a proxy vote. Where you submit your choice and someone else votes the ballot on your behalf.

In networking and web traffic, a proxy is a device or server that acts on behalf of other devices. It sits between two entities and performs a service. Proxies are hardware or software solutions that sit between the client and the server and does something to requests and sometimes responses.

The first kind of proxy we’ll discuss is a half proxy. With a Half-Proxy, a client will connect to the proxy and the proxy will establish the session with the servers. The proxy will then respond back to the client with the information. After that initial connection is set up, the rest of the traffic with go right through the proxy to the back-end resources. The proxy may do things like L4 port switching, routing or NAT’ing but at this point it is not doing anything intelligent other than passing traffic.

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Basically, the half-proxy sets up a call and then the client and server does their thing. Half-proxies are also good for Direct Server Return (DSR). For protocols like streaming protocols, you’ll have the initial set up but instead of going through the proxy for the rest of the connections, the server will bypass the proxy and go straight to the client. This is so you don’t waste resources on the proxy for something that can be done directly server to client.

A Full Proxy on the other hand, handles all the traffic. A full proxy creates a client connection along with a separate server connection with a little gap in the middle. The client connects to the proxy on one end and the proxy establishes a separate, independent connection to the server. This is bi-directionally on both sides. There is never any blending of connections from the client side to the server side – the connections are independent. This is what we mean when we say BIG-IP is a full proxy architecture.

The full proxy intelligence is in that OSI Gap. With a half-proxy, it is mostly client side traffic on the way in during a request and then does what it needs…with a full proxy you can manipulate, inspect, drop, do what you need to the traffic on both sides and in both directions. Whether a request or response, you can manipulate traffic on the client side request, the server side request, the server side response or client side response. You get a lot more power with a full proxy than you would with a half proxy.

reverseproxy_thumb.jpgWith BIG-IP (a full proxy) on the server side it can be used as a reverse proxy. When clients make a request from the internet, they terminate on the reverse proxy sitting in front of application servers. Reverse proxies are good for traditional load balancing, optimization, server side caching, and security functionality. If you know certain clients or IP spaces are acceptable, you can whitelist them. Same with known malicious sources or bad ranges/clients, you can blacklist them. You can do it at the IP layer (L4) or you can go up the stack to Layer 7 and control an http/s request. Or add a BIG-IP ASM policy on there. As it inspects the protocol traffic if it sees some anomaly that is not native to the application like a SQL injection, you can block it.

forwardproxy_2.jpgOn the client side, BIG-IP can also be a forward proxy. In this case, the client connects to the BIG-IP on an outbound request and the proxy acts on behalf of the client to the outside world. This is perfect for things like client side caching (grabbing a video and storing locally), filtering (blocking certain time-wasting sites or malicious content) along with privacy (masking internal resources) along with security.

You can also have a services layer, like an ICAP server, where you can pass traffic to an inspection engine prior to hitting the internet. You can manipulate client side traffic out to the internet, server side in from the internet, handle locally on the platform or or pass off to a third party services entity. A full proxy is your friend in an application delivery environment.

If you'd like to learn more about Proxies, check out the resources below including the Lightboard Lesson: What is a Proxy?

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Lightboard Lessons: What is a Proxy?

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, proxy by psilva on March 15th, 2017

The term ‘Proxy’ is a contraction that comes from the middle English word procuracy, a legal term meaning to act on behalf of another.

In networking and web traffic, a proxy is a device or server that acts on behalf of other devices. It sits between two entities and performs a service. Proxies are hardware or software solutions that sit between the client and the server and do something to requests and sometimes responses.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I light up the various types of proxies.

 

 

 

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Social Login to Enterprise Apps using BIG-IP & OAuth 2.0

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, cloud, silva, authentication, social media, devcentral by psilva on March 14th, 2017

 

social_login_gigya.jpgPassword fatigue is something we’ve all experienced at some point. Whether it’s due to breaches and the ever present, ‘update password’ warnings, the corporate policy of a 90-day rotation or simply registering for a website with yet another unique username and password. Social login or social sign-in allows people to use their existing Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social credentials to enter a web property, rather than creating a whole new account for the site. These can be used to authenticate, verify identity or to allow posting of content to social networks and the main advantage is convenience and speed.

With v13, BIG-IP APM offers a rich set of OAuth capabilities allowing organizations to implement OAuth Client, OAuth Resource Server and OAuth Authorization Server roles to implement social logins.

Let's look at BIG-IP’s capabilities (from the user's perspective) as an OAuth Client, OAuth Resource Server. We’ll navigate to our BIG-IP login screen and immediately you’ll notice it looks slightly different than your typical APM login.

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Here, you now have a choice and can authenticate using any one of the 4 external resources. Azure AD Enterprise and AD B2C along with Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook are very popular social login choices - as shown in the initial image above - where organizations are looking to authenticate the users and allow them to authorize the sharing of information that Google and Facebook already have, with the application.

In this case, we have an application behind BIG-IP that is relying on getting such information from an external third party. For this, we’ll select Facebook. When we click logon, BIG-IP will redirect to the Facebook log into screen.

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Now we’ll need to log into Facebook using our own personal information. And with that, Facebook has authenticated us and has sent BIG-IP critical info like name, email and other parameters.

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BIG-IP has accepted the OAuth token passed to it from Facebook, extracted the info from the OAuth scope and now the application knows my identity and what resources I’m authorized to access.

We can do the same with Google. Select the option, click logon and here we’re redirected to the Google authentication page. Here again, we enter our personal credentials and arrive at the same work top.

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Like Facebook, Google sent an authorization code to BIG-IP, BIG-IP validated it, extracted the username from the OAuth scope, passed it to the backend application so the application knows who I am and what I can access.

Let's look at Microsoft. For Microsoft, we can authenticate using a couple editions of Azure AD – Enterprise and B2C. Let’s see how Enterprise works. Like the others, we get redirected to Microsoftonline.com to enter our MS Enterprise credentials.

In this instance, we’re using an account that’s been Federated to Azure AD from another BIG-IP and we’ll authenticate to that BIG-IP. At this point that BIG-IP will issue a SAML assertion to Azure AD to authenticate me to Azure AD. After that, Azure AD will issue an OAuth token to that BIG-IP. BIG-IP will accept it, extract the user information and pass it to the application.

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Finally, let’s see how Azure AD B2C works. B2C is something that companies can use to store their non-corporate user base. Folks like partners, suppliers, contractors, etc. B2C allows users to maintain their own accounts and personal information. In addition, they can login using a typical Microsoft account or a Google account. In this case, we’ll simply use a Microsoft account and are directed to the Microsoft authentication page.

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We’ll enter our personal info, the servers communicate and we’re dropped into our WebTop of resources.

Social logins can not only help enterprises offer access to certain resources, it also improves the overall customer experience with speed and convenience and allows organizations to capture essential information about their online customers.

ps

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Blog Roll 2016

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, cloud computing, silva, application delivery, devcentral, infrastructure, access, iot by psilva on December 20th, 2016

dc-logo.jpgIt’s that time of year when we gift and re-gift, just like this text from last year. And the perfect opportunity to re-post, re-purpose and re-use all my 2016 entries.

After 12 years at F5, I had a bit of a transition in 2016, joining the amazing DevCentral team in February as a Sr. Solution Developer. You may have noticed a much more technical bent since then…hopefully. We completed our 101 Certification Exam this year and will be shooting for the 201 next quarter. We started highlighting our community with Featured Member spotlight articles and I finally started contributing to the awesome LightBoard Lessons series. I also had ACDF surgery this year, which is why November is so light. Thanks to the team for all their support this year. You guys are the best!

If you missed any of the 53 attempts including 7 videos, here they are wrapped in one simple entry. I read somewhere that lists in articles are good. I broke it out by month to see what was happening at the time and let's be honest, pure self-promotion. I truly appreciate the reading and watching throughout 2016.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

And a couple special holiday themed entries from years past.

ps

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Lightboard Lessons: BIG-IP in Hybrid Environments

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, ssl vpn, cloud, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, remote access, saml, aws, azure, saas by psilva on October 12th, 2016

A hybrid infrastructure allows organizations to distribute their applications when it makes sense and provide global fault tolerance to the system overall. Depending on how an organization’s disaster recovery infrastructure is designed, this can be an active site, a hot-standby, some leased hosting space, a cloud provider or some other contained compute location. As soon as that server, application, or even location starts to have trouble, organizations can seamlessly maneuver around the issue and continue to deliver their applications.

Driven by applications and workloads, a hybrid environment is a technology strategy to integrate the mix of on premise and off-premise data compute resources. In this Lightboard Lesson, I explain how BIG-IP can help facilitate hybrid infrastructures.

ps

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F5 Access for Your Chromebook

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, ssl vpn, cloud, silva, application delivery, mobile, devcentral by psilva on October 12th, 2016

My 5th grader has a Chromebook for school. She loves it and it allows her access to school applications and educational tools where she can complete her assignments and check her grades. But if 5th grade is a tiny dot in your rear-view and you’re looking to deploy Chromebooks in the enterprise, BIG-IP v12 can secure and encrypt ChromeOS device access to enterprise networks and applications. With network access, Chromebook users can run applications such as RDP, SSH, Citrix, VMware View, and other enterprise applications on their Chrome OS devices.

From an employee’s perspective, it is very easy to get the SSLVPN configured. Log on to a Chromebook, open Chrome Web Store, search for ‘F5 Access’ and press the +ADD TO CHROME button. Add app when the dialogue box pops and F5 Access will appear in your ‘All Apps’ window.

f5_access.jpg

Next, when launched, you’ll need to accept the license agreement and then add a server from the Configuration tab:

add_server.jpg 

Next, give it a unique name, enter the BIG-IP APM server URL and optionally add your username and password. Your password will not be cached unless that’s allowed by the APM Access Policy. You can also select a client certificate if required. Once configured, it’ll appear in the list. You can also have multiple server configurations if needed:

added_server.jpg 

To connect, click the bottom tray bar and select the tile that says, ‘VPN Disconnected.’

f5access_tile.jpg

And select the server configured when setting up the app. Depending on the configuration, you’ll either get the native login window or the WebTop version:

f5access_login.jpg 

Once connected, there won’t be any indication in the tray but if you click it, you’ll see the connection status in the same VPN area as above and it’ll show ‘connected’ within the F5 Access app:

f5access_connected.jpg 

As you can see in the above image, you can also check Statistics and Diagnostics if those are of interest. To end the connection, click the tray again, select the VPN tile and click Disconnect.

For administrators, it’s as simple as adding a ‘ChromeOS’ branch off the ClientOS VPE action:

f5access_clientos.jpg

Then add a Connectivity Profile to BIG-IP:

f5access_connectivity_profile.jpg 

In addition to generic session variables, client session variables are also available. Check out the release notes and BIG-IP Access Policy Manager and F5 Access for Chrome OS v1.0.0 manual for more info.

ps

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Q/A with ExITeam’s Security Engineer Stanislas Piron - DevCentral’s Featured Member for October

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, silva, devcentral, irules by psilva on October 4th, 2016

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Stanislas Piron is a Security Engineer for ExITeam. 16 years ago, Stanislas started out with Firewalls, email and Web content security. His first F5 deployment was with LTM and Link Controller 10 years ago and he is DevCentral’s Featured Member for October!

He started to focus on F5 products as pre-sales engineer for a IT security distributor in charge of F5 development. 4 years ago, he joined Exiteam, a small company of two security engineers helping resellers audit, design and deploy security solutions for their customers. To provide real expertise, they both focus their skills on a small set of products. He works with F5 products about 80% of his time.

DevCentral got an opportunity to chat with Stanislas about his work, life and if European organizations have unique security requirements.

DevCentral: You’ve been an active contributor to the DevCentral community and wondered what keeps you involved?

Stanislas Piron: When I started working with F5 products, I created my DevCentral account to search piece of iRules and write my own iRules according to customer’s needs.

As the needs grew, I had some unanswered questions. Searching DevCentral, I found another approaches to solving issues, helping me to solve my own challenges. Each time I find a better way to solve my problems, I try to share my code.

I often read question and try to solve them thinking, “This can solve an issue of a customer I didn’t think about before”

DevCentral is a place where every time you help someone, you learn something.

DC: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

SP: My favorite BIG-IP product is APM (LTM+APM mode), which covers almost everything about authentication. It’s also the product we must configure as simple as possible if we do not want the customer to have headaches reading the access policy.

I often deploy BIG-IP with multiple modules including LTM, APM, AFM, GTM and ASM to offer high datacenter security.

Most of my deployments use the local traffic policies for standard admin tasks, iRules for application compatibility, and the tcl codes in APM to assign variable boxes.

DC: You are a Security Engineer with Exiteam, a security consulting practice. Can you explain how DevCentral helps with your daily challenges? Where does BIG-IP fit in the services you offer or within your own infrastructure?

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SP: iRules is a great tool to solve problems BIG-IP is not addressing, but iRules is nothing without the developer’s community. DevCentral experts share experience not only about tcl coding but protocol knowledge, iRule events orders, and working iRules. And on the other side, some IT admins ask about new needs that I may answer for the next customer.

Each time I have a new challenge, I first search on DevCentral to see if someone already solved it. If not, I’ll create my own iRule.

DC: I understand you are in France and wondered, what are some of the unique information security challenges for European organizations?

SP: Information security challenges are not unique for European organizations as security risks are the same for all countries.

DC: Describe one of your biggest challenges and how DevCentral helped in that situation.

SP: With Microsoft Forefront TMG End of sale, most of my customers migrated to F5 products.

One of my customers, a SAAS provider, with almost exclusively Microsoft products (TMG, Exchange, Sharepoint, etc.) and with more than 20K concurrent users was evaluating how to migrate to BIG-IP LTM, ASM, APM and AFM.

During POC (and then deployment) we worked to get the same behavior with APM as TMG with SharePoint about office editing documents. I found some question on DevCentral with parts of an answer, but not the full answer. I wrote an iRule optimized for such a deployment (20K users) answering all the customer needs and shared it. Some DevCentral experts, who had the same needs, commented on it to make it simpler, generic and optimized.

DC: Lastly, if you weren’t an IT admin – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

SP I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was child and IT is not a dream job if you don’t evolve. What I expect in my job is to not do the same job as the day before, and I think I found it. Every day, I meet new customers, I have new challenges and I learn something increasing my knowledge.

DC: Thanks Stanislas and congratulations! You can find Stanislas on LinkedIn and also check out his DevCentral contributions.

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Lightboard Lessons: Secure & Optimize VDI

Posted in security, big-ip, virtualization, silva, vmware, lightboard, vdi, devcentral, access by psilva on September 28th, 2016

Virtualization continues to impact the enterprise and how IT delivers services to meet business needs. Desktop Virtualization (VDI) offers employees anywhere, anytime, flexible access to their desktops whether they are at home, on the road, in the office or on a mobile device. In this edition of Lightboard Lessons, I show how BIG-IP can secure, optimize and consolidate your VMware Horizon View environment, providing a secure front end access layer for VMware’s VDI infrastructure.

ps

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