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Updating an Auto-Scaled BIG-IP VE WAF in AWS

Update servers while continuing to process application traffic.

Recently we’ve been showing how to deploy BIG-IP (and F5 WAF) in various clouds like Azure and AWS.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to update an AWS auto-scaled BIG-IP VE web application firewall (WAF) that was initially created by using this F5 github template. This solution implements auto-scaling of BIG-IP Virtual Edition (VE) Web Application Firewall (WAF) systems in Amazon Web Services. The BIG-IP VEs have the Local Traffic Manager (LTM) and Application Security Manager (ASM) modules enabled to provide advanced traffic management and web application security functionality. As traffic increases or decreases, the number of BIG-IP VE WAF instances automatically increases or decreases accordingly.

Prerequisites:

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So, let’s assume you used the CFT to create a BIG-IP WAF in front of your application servers…and your business is so successful that you need to be able to process more traffic. You do not need to tear down your deployment and start over – you can make changes to your current deployment while the WAF is still running and protecting your environment.

For this article, a few examples of things you can change include increasing the throughput limit. For instance, when you first configured the WAF, you choose a specific throughput limit for BIG-IP. You can update that. You may also have selected a smaller AWS instance size and now want to choose a larger AWS instance type and add more CPU. Or, you may have set up your auto-scaling group to launch a maximum of two instances and now you want to be able to update the auto-scaling group attributes and add three.

This is all possible so let’s check it out.

The first thing we want to do is connect to one of the BIG-IP VE instances and save the latest configuration. We open putty, login and run the TMSH command (save /sys ucs /var/tmp/original.ucs) to save the UCS config file.

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Then we use WinSCP to copy the UCS files to the desktop. You can use whatever application you like and copy the file wherever you like as this is just a temporary location.

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Once that’s done, open the AWS Management Console and go to the S3 bucket. This bucket was created when you first deployed the CFT and locate yours.

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When you find your file, click it and then click the Backup folder.

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Once there, now upload the UCS file into that folder.

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The USC is now in the folder.

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The last step is to redeploy the CFT and change the selected options. From the main AWS Management Console, click CloudFormation, select your Stack and under Actions, click Update Stack.

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Next, you can see the template we originally deployed and to update, click Next.

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Scroll down the page to Instance Configuration to change the instance type size.

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Right under that is Maximum Throughput to update the throughput limit.

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And a little further down under Auto Scaling Configuration is where you can update the max number of instances. When done click Next at the bottom of the page.

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It’ll ask you to review and confirm the changes. Click Update.

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You can watch the progress and if your current BIG-IP VE instance is actively processing traffic, it will remain active until the new instance is ready. Give it a little time to ensure the new instance is up and added to the auto-scaling group before we terminate the other instance.

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When it is done, we’ll confirm a few things.

Go to the EC2 Dashboard and check the running instances. We can see the old instance is terminated and the new instance is now available. You can also check the instance size and within the auto-scaling group you can see the new maximum for number of instances.

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And we’re deployed.

You can follow this same workflow to update other attributes of your F5 WAF. This allows you to update your servers while continuing to process traffic.

Thanks to our TechPubs group, you can also watch the video demo.

ps

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.