BIG-IP Orchestrate in private Data Center using Terraform Cloud Agent


What is Terraform Cloud?

Terraform Cloud offers organizations a unified workflow for provisioning their cloud, private data center, and SaaS infrastructure, ensuring continuous infrastructure management throughout its entire lifecycle.


What is F5 BIG-IP?

BIG-IP is a collection of hardware platforms and software solutions providing services focused on security, reliability, and performance. It helps in doing Application delivery server load balancing of applications securely and at scale. BIG-IP can be deployed in private or public clouds.

BIG-IP in private Data Center

When BIG-IP is in a private data center, it has a private IP, making it tricky to reach with tools like Terraform Cloud from the outside. However, if you're dealing with both private and public clouds using Terraform Cloud, you can use Terraform Cloud agents. These agents help control BIG-IP in private data centers, even when the IP isn't accessible externally.

BIG-IP supports Application Services 3 (AS3) and FAST templates, presenting a highly synergistic relationship with Terraform. This synergy is particularly pronounced due to the availability of the BIG-IP Terraform provider, coupled with dedicated resources designed specifically for the deployment of AS3 and FAST templates.

AS3 and FAST templates serve as powerful tools for configuring and managing BIG-IP application services. AS3 simplifies the process of defining, managing, and deploying application-related configurations, providing a declarative model for specifying how applications should be set up on BIG-IP devices. FAST, on the other hand, extends automation capabilities by incorporating telemetry functionalities, and enhancing monitoring and reporting capabilities.

The integration with Terraform is pivotal in this context, as the BIG-IP Terraform provider facilitates the seamless incorporation of AS3 and FAST templates into infrastructure-as-code (IaC) workflows.

The example Terraform configuration is at


How to orchestrate BIG-IP in a private Data Center?

In this illustrative scenario, the BIG-IP system is operational within a private Data Center. A Virtual Machine has been configured to host the Terraform Cloud agent, encapsulated within a container. The Terraform configuration pertinent to our deployment resides in the GitHub repository:

Let us now turn our attention to the Terraform Agent—an agile and lightweight component capable of executing within a container on a Virtual Machine. Its primary function is to establish and maintain a secure connection with Terraform Cloud, perpetually polling for instructions. Notably, this agent not only retrieves directives from Terraform Cloud but also acquires essential information regarding the Terraform workspace and the TF configuration. What distinguishes this agent is its seamless operation without necessitating alterations to existing firewall rules. Its communication with Terraform Cloud transpires over HTTPS and only demands appropriately configured DNS settings.


Upon queuing a Terraform plan, the control plane initiates the dispatch of the configuration to the agent. Subsequently, the agent diligently retrieves the workspace and orchestrates the deployment of the configuration onto the BIG-IP infrastructure.


What advantages does this solution offer?


Automation Workflows with Terraform Cloud:

By leveraging Terraform Cloud, we gain the capability to establish automated workflows for configuring BIG-IP. This not only streamlines the configuration process but also enhances efficiency through the power of automation. Additionally, Terraform Cloud enables the orchestration of BIG-IP Web Application Firewall (WAF) configurations in a Hybrid Cloud environment, providing a comprehensive solution for managing security across diverse infrastructures.


Enhanced Security with Maintained Private IPs and Credentials:

The solution ensures a robust security posture by maintaining the confidentiality of the infrastructure's private IP addresses and credentials. This practice prevents security sprawls and unauthorized access attempts, fortifying the integrity of the entire system.


Seamless BIG-IP Configuration Migration:

The flexibility of BIG-IP configuration migration is a notable advantage, allowing for a smooth transition between private and public cloud environments. This bidirectional migration capability ensures adaptability to evolving infrastructure needs, facilitating a seamless shift of BIG-IP configurations as organizational requirements dictate. Whether moving configurations from a private cloud to a public cloud or vice versa, this capability provides agility and scalability in infrastructure management.


How to set up configuration on Terraform Cloud?

o   Once logged into Terraform Cloud, choose your organization from the available options.



o   Go to the Projects & Workspaces section and opt for the Version Control Workflow.

o   The BIG-IP Terraform configuration template resides in the GitHub repository; please choose the relevant repository.

o   Choose the correct GitHub repository; it should be visible here.

o   Now, provide a name for the workspace; feel free to select something relevant, but it must be unique.

o   Enter the variables here, including details such as the BIG-IP's IP address, username, and password. Ensure to choose the HCL option, and if needed, you can set it as invisible.

o   Then, go to the established workspace and click on "New run.

o   Go to the Agents section and select Create Agent Pool.

o   Enter a fitting name for the Agent Pool, as illustrated. You can opt for a unique name matching the workspace for easy identification, although it's not mandatory.

o   Provide a suitable description for the Agent Pool, explaining its specific purpose or activities. Then, proceed to click on "Generate Token"; you will require this token when running the agent.

o   Copy the newly generated token and follow the outlined steps to configure your agents. Run the provided docker command, including essential environment variables like TFC_AGENT_TOKEN and TFC_AGENT_NAME. If desired, you can also run the docker in the background using the appropriate docker command option.

Key Take Away

Terraform Cloud streamlines infrastructure provisioning and management across various environments for consistent lifecycle control. Terraform Cloud agents enable effective orchestration of BIG-IP configurations in private data centers, addressing challenges associated with private IPs. The seamless integration of BIG-IP, AS3, FAST templates, and Terraform supports efficient infrastructure-as-code workflows, especially beneficial in multi-cloud setups.

Terraform Cloud facilitates automated workflows, simplifies BIG-IP configurations, and supports orchestrating Web Application Firewall (WAF) setups in Hybrid Cloud environments.

Emphasizing security, the solution maintains the confidentiality of private IPs and credentials, preventing security sprawl and unauthorized access.

The solution offers flexibility by allowing seamless BIG-IP configuration migration between private and public cloud environments, ensuring adaptability and scalability.


For more details, please watch the accompanying video

Published Mar 20, 2024
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