Manual Chapter : Setting Up Application Visibility

Applies To:

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  • 14.0.1, 14.0.0, 13.1.5, 13.1.4, 13.1.3, 13.1.1, 13.1.0
Manual Chapter

Overview: Setting up application visibility

This implementation describes how to set up the Policy Enforcement Manager™ (PEM) to analyze application traffic on the network, and provide statistics for application visibility. For example, you can view statistics to see what applications are being used. By monitoring your traffic, you can later create enforcement policies that are tailored for your needs.

Task summary

What is application visibility?

Policy Enforcement Manager™ (PEM™) gives the BIG-IP® system the ability to classify both encrypted and unencrypted traffic into categories for application visibility. You can display statistics about the network traffic in graphical charts, and view classification information by application, category, protocol, virtual server, country, type of device, and so on. In-depth information and application awareness provides visibility into your network infrastructure so you can identify and monitor different types of traffic and resolve performance issues.

Application visibility is particularly useful for service providers. If your organization is using RADIUS protocol for authentication, authorization, and accounting, PEM can intercept accounting messages to retrieve additional information, for example, about mobile devices, subscribers, towers, service plans, and manufacturers.

Charts shown on the Statistics > Classification screens display the application visibility data. The classification overview is customizable so you can display the charts or tables that you want. The overview shows top statistics for the categories of which you are most interested.

Determining and adjusting traffic classifications

The BIG-IP® system classifies many categories of traffic and specific applications within those categories. You can determine which categories and applications of traffic the system can classify, and find out information about them such as their application or category ID.
  1. On the Main tab, click Traffic Intelligence > Applications > Application List .
    The Applications screen displays a list of the supported classification categories.
  2. To view the applications in each category, click the + icon next to the category.
  3. To view or edit the properties of the application or category, click the name to open its properties screen.
    Tip: Here you can view the application or category ID number.
  4. Click Update to save any changes.

Creating a category

On the BIG-IP® system, you can create customized categories for classifying traffic if the predefined categories are not sufficient for your needs. For example, if you plan to create new application types unique to your organization, you can create a category to group them together.
  1. On the Main tab, click Traffic Intelligence > Applications > Application List .
    The Applications screen displays a list of the supported classification categories.
  2. Click Create.
    The New Application screen opens.
  3. From the Type list, select Category.
  4. In the Name field, type a name for the classification category.
  5. In the Description field, type optional descriptive text for the classification presets.
  6. In the Category ID field, type an identifier for this category, a unique number.
  7. For the Application List setting, move applications that you want to associate with this category from the Unknown list to the Selected list.
    If the applications are not listed yet, you can associate the applications with the category when you create them.
  8. Click Finished.
You have created custom applications to handle traffic.

Creating classification presets

On the BIG-IP® system, you can create classification preset settings for a classification policy that you have previously created.
  1. On the Main tab, click Traffic Intelligence > Presets .
    The Presets screen displays a list of the supported classification categories.
  2. Click Create.
    The New Presets screen opens.
  3. In the Name field, type a name for the application.
  4. In the Description field, type optional descriptive text for the classification presets.
  5. For the Policy setting, move the classification policies from Available list to the Selected list, to create a new preset.
  6. In the Allow Reclassification list, Enabled is the default selection.
  7. In the Flow Bundling list, Enabled is the default selection.
  8. In the Cache Results list, Enabled is the default selection.
  9. Click Finished.

Creating a data plane virtual group

If you want to steer specific traffic (or otherwise regulate certain types of traffic) you must first develop appropriate enforcement policies. If using a Gx interface to a PCRF, you need to create a new virtual group in listeners that connect to a PCRF.
You can create listeners that specify how to handle traffic for policy enforcement. Creating a listener performs preliminary setup on the BIG-IP® system for application visibility, intelligent steering, bandwidth management, and reporting.
  1. On the Main tab, click Policy Enforcement > Data Plane Listeners .
    The Date Plane Listeners screen opens.
  2. Click Add Group.
    The New Virtual Group screen opens.
  3. In the Name field, type a unique name for the listener.
  4. In the Destination Address field, type the IP address of the virtual server. For example, or
    Note: When you use an IPv4 address without specifying a prefix, the BIG-IP® system automatically uses a /32 prefix.
    Tip: You can use a catch-all virtual server ( to specify all traffic that is delivered to the BIG-IP® system. Configure the source and destination setting, during forwarding mode only. In the relay mode, the client does not have an IP address and the DHCP provides the client with an IP address.
    The system will create a virtual server using the address or network you specify.
  5. For the Service Port setting, type or select the service port for the virtual server.
  6. From the VLAN and Tunnel Traffic list, select Enabled on. Then, for the VLANs and Tunnels setting, move the VLAN or VLANs on which you want to allow the virtual servers to share traffic from the Available list to the Selected list.
  7. For the VLANs and Tunnels setting, move the VLANs and tunnels that you want to monitor from the Available list to the Selected list.
  8. In the Policy Provisioning area, select enforcement policies to apply to the traffic.
    1. For Global Policy, move policies to apply to all subscribers to High Precedence or Low Precedence.
      Note: For URL categorization to take effect, you need to associate the enforcement policy with a classification profile.
    2. For Unknown Subscriber Policy, move policies to use if the subscriber is unknown to Selected.
    The system applies the global policy to all subscribers in parallel with the subscriber policies, and must be configured with unknown subscriber policy. High-precedence global policies override conflicting subscriber policies, and low-precedence policies are overridden by conflicting subscriber policies.
  9. Click Finished.
    The Policy Enforcement Manager creates a listener.
When you create a listener, Policy Enforcement Manager™ also creates virtual servers for each type of traffic (TCP, UDP, or both and IP), and a virtual server for HTTP traffic. The system sets up classification and assigns the appropriate policy enforcement profile to the virtual servers. If you are connecting to a RADIUS authentication server, a virtual server for RADIUS is also added.
Now you can send traffic through the network. As network traffic moves through the BIG-IP® system, the system classifies the traffic, and if you have developed policies, the system performs the actions specified by the enforcement policy rules.

Examining application visibility statistics

Before you can look at the application visibility statistics, you must have Adobe® Flash® Player installed on the computer where you plan to view them.
You can review charts that provide application visibility for traffic on your network.
  1. On the Main tab, click Policy Enforcement > Analytics > Overview .
    The Overview screen opens where you can view a summary of the top classification statistics.
  2. Review the statistics provided. To quickly change the format of the information, click the icon to the left of the time period.
    You can display information in a table, line chart, pie chart, or bar chart.
  3. Click the time period (Last Hour, Last Day, Last Week, Last Month, or Last Year), to change the interval used for displaying content.
  4. To permanently change the format or content of any of the charts, click the cog on the chart, select Settings, and adjust the fields in the form.
  5. To display additional charts or tables, click the Add Widget link and complete the form.
    The chart you create becomes a permanent part of the Classification Overview screen.
  6. On the Main tab, click Policy Enforcement Analytics Statistics.
    The Statistics screen opens and the charts display detailed classification statistics by application.
  7. Adjust the statistics content in any of the following ways:
    • Use the View By setting or Advanced Filters to change the type of classification data shown.
    • Use the Time Period setting to change the interval for which statistics are shown.
    • Use the Expand Advanced Filters setting to fine-tune even further which types of reports to display.
  8. Get detailed information in any of the following ways:
    • Point on the charts to display the details.
    • Review the Details table to see the statistics.
    • In the Details table, click the name of one of the items (application, category, protocol, and so on) to see classification details about that specific item.
    • Use the Display method setting to show statistics in different formats.
    The easiest way to learn what classification information is available is to look at the charts and view the content and details in different ways. As you drill down into the statistics, you can locate more details and view information for a specific item.
  9. To generate and export a PDF or CSV file of a report to save or email, click Export, select the settings, and fill in the appropriate fields.
    Note: You must have an SMTP email server configured to use the email option. On the Main tab, click System > Configuration > Device > SMTP .
You can use the classification statistics to determine, for example, the types of applications and the specific applications that clients are using. By drilling down into that information, you can find out specifically which applications are being used by a particular IP address.