1.1. What is the F5 SSL Orchestrator?

F5 BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator provides an all-in-one solution designed to optimize the SSL infrastructure, provide security devices with visibility of SSL/TLS encrypted traffic, and maximize efficient use of that existing security investment. This solution supports policy-based management and steering of traffic flows to existing security devices, designed to easily integrate into any architectures, and centralizes the SSL decrypt/encrypt function by delivering the latest SSL encryption technologies across the entire security infrastructure.

Multi-layered security

In order to solve specific security challenges, security administrators are accustomed to manually chaining together multiple point products, creating a “daisy-chained” security stack consisting of multiple services. A typical stack may include components like Data Leak Prevention (DLP) scanners, Web Application Firewalls (WAF), Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems (IPS and IDS), Malware Analysis tools, and more. In this model, all user sessions are provided the same level of security, as this daisy chain of services is hard-wired.

Dynamic service chaining

Dynamic service chaining effectively breaks the daisy chain paradigm by processing connections based on context provided by the Security Policy, which then allows specific types of traffic to flow through arbitrary chains of services. These service chains can include five types of services: layer 2 inline services, layer 3 inline services, receive-only “copy” services, ICAP services, and HTTP proxy services.


Different environments call for different network implementations. While some can easily support SSL visibility at layer 3 (routed), others may require these devices to be inserted at layer 2. SSL Orchestrator can support all of these networking requirements with the following topology modes:

  • Outbound transparent proxy

  • Outbound explicit proxy

  • Outbound layer 2

  • Inbound reverse proxy

  • Inbound existing application

  • Inbound layer 2

Security Policy

The SSL Orchestrator Security Policy provides a rich set of context-aware methods to dynamically determine how best to optimize traffic flow through the security stack. Context can minimally come from the following:

  • Source and destination address/subnet

  • URL filtering and IP intelligence - Subscriptions

  • Host and domain name

  • Destination port

  • IP geolocation

  • Protocol


Figure 1: SSL Orchestrator logical design