Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of BETA testing an application called Node Manager, which is being developed by the great folks over at Accelerated Data.   And what a fun few weeks it has been!  Accelerated Data has obviously done its research and has managed to release a solution package that truly meets the needs of BIG-IP® Administrators everywhere.  Here are just a few items from it’s current feature set:

–  Group nodes and users by Application
–  The ability to assign those Applications to application owners and groups
–  Gives those users the ability to enable and disable Virtual Servers, Nodes and Pool Members

That’s right my fellow Admins we now have an easy way to allow users and groups to control availability of applications, servers and services through the BIG-IP® without actually giving them accounts on the units.  And we can precisely define what they can see and do to the VIP’s, Nodes and Pools that they have been assigned.

Now the first thing that pops up in my mind when I think about giving partial control of VIP’s, Pools and Nodes over to application owners is “What if they mess up the config?!” and “How can I keep track of who’s doing what?”.  Well for starters, they have built an excellent change log that allows you to see who did what and have provided a variety of ways to export that data to a variety of other formats.  If a user disables a node you know who, what, when and why (thanks to a reason box provided when they take an action).  As for messing up a configuration, the software just isn’t set up in a way that allows users to do that.  Users are not allowed to change, add or delete IP addresses and things of that nature.

Another feature that aims to ease your administrative burden is that the Node Manager software allows you to enter the IP of not only your current active unit, but also the IP of your standby unit.  Afterwards any time that users make a change those changes can be instantly replicated to your standby unit.

Node Manager is easy to install, easy to administer and it is secure.  Installation can happen a number of ways, during BETA it consisisted of downloading a small Ubuntu VM, powering on the VM and the application was ready to go. You can literally have it up in running in just a few minutes.  It is accessible to users via HTTP and/or HTTPS and requires nothing on their end except a compatible browser.

Here is a quick example of how easy it is to configure:

1.  Open your browser and aim it at the URL provided by the software after you have powered up the VM.

2.  Login and create a Datacenter, give it a name and a description.

3.  Assign a BIG-IP® to that Datacenter.  Give it a name, input the IP or IP’s of the BIG-IP® and supply a username and password.

4. Create a username for the user or group that you want to give access to.  In Figure 1 you can see I just used citrix and assigned a citrix admin to that group.

5.  Then select the Virtual Servers, Pools or Nodes that you want that group to be able to administer.

6. Send the citrix group (or whatever group you created) an e-mail providing a link to the Node Manager URL, their username/password and your done!

Now those users can control when and which servers are available, which might prove useful when they are patching, upgrading software, troubleshooting issues, etc… To see what it looks like from the perspective of a user when they log on check out Figure 2. *

Please keep in mind this is just a short overview of what the software is capable of.  To find out more about Accelerated Data and the Node Manager software go to:  www.f5tools.com

It’s definitely a 10 out of 10!  Go check it out.  You will be glad that you did.

Figure 1

Figure 1 NodeManagerGroup

Figure 2

Figure 2 UsersView

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  1. It’s definitely a 10 out of 10! Go check it out. You will be glad that you did.