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Study Guide: F5 CTS-APM (F5 304)

Study guide F5 CTS-APM (F5 304)

The F5 CTS-APM (304) Exam is crucial for professionals looking to validate their skills in Application Delivery Fundamentals. To excel in this exam, you need a comprehensive study guide that covers all the essential topics, provides reliable resources, and offers practice exercises for a well-rounded preparation. In this article, we will dive deep into the study guide for the F5 CTS-APM (304) Exam, exploring key areas and offering valuable insights to help you succeed.

This section will comprehensively outline the study guide for the F5 CTS-APM (F5 304) Exam. This outline covers all the necessary topics, resources, and practice exercises to equip you with the knowledge and skills required to ace the exam.

Table of Content


Welcome to the F5 CTS-APM (304) exam study guide. This thorough manual will give you the knowledge to study for the test effectively. The exam covers a variety of subjects of F5 Access Policy Manager (APM) and its features. Understanding these topics will give you the tools to succeed on the certification exam. The key principles, benefits, and suggested approaches of F5 CTS-APM (304) will be discussed in this article. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced learner looking to broaden your knowledge, this study guide will provide you with priceless insights and help you succeed on your F5 CTS-APM (304) journey.

Understanding the F5 CTS-APM (304) Exam

It’s imperative to fully comprehend the F5 CTS-APM (304) Exam before starting the study guide. This section summarises the exam’s goals, requirements, and the importance of receiving the certification. Understanding the purpose of the exam will help you tailor your preparation techniques and increase your chances of passing.F5 Networks, a top supplier of application delivery and security services, offers the F5 CTS-APM (304) certification program. The Application Policy Manager (APM) module of the F5 BIG-IP platform is the focus of this certification. Your proficiency in configuring, managing, and troubleshooting F5 APM solutions is validated by the F5 CTS-APM (304) certification.

How F5 CTS APM Works

F5 CTS APM acts as a gateway between users and applications, optimizing traffic flow while providing security and performance enhancements. Here is a high-level overview of how F5 CTS APM works:

  1. Load Balancing: F5 CTS APM intelligently distributes incoming traffic across multiple servers, ensuring optimal resource utilization and preventing the overloading of individual servers.
  2. SSL/TLS Offloading: F5 CTS APM can offload SSL/TLS encryption and decryption from application servers, reducing the computational load on the servers and improving performance.
  3. Web Application Firewall (WAF): F5 CTS APM includes a powerful WAF that protects applications from common web-based attacks, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).
  4. Access Control: F5 CTS APM enables organizations to implement granular access controls, ensuring only authorized users can access specific applications or resources.
  5. Traffic Optimization: F5 CTS APM optimizes application traffic by compressing data, caching frequently accessed content, and prioritizing critical traffic to enhance overall
  6. performance.

The Prerequisite of F5 CTS APM

You need to understand how authentication methods work, the flows, ports, and interactions. This is a prerequisite for F5 that is not related to the platform but rather the functioning of the protocols:

  • Active directory
  • LDAP
  • SAML
  • Radius
  • Kerberos
  • RSA secureID
  • OCSP
  • Tacacs+
  • Certificate

F5 Operation Guide APM

The complete operation guide for product APM is on the following link. This guide must be read thoroughly to be prepared for the exam.

This is the most important document.

K20775035: Guide introduction and contents | BIG-IP APM operations guide

F5 Knownledge center BIG-IP APM

BIG-IP Access Policy Manager

These items are provided to add more information and delve into the details of each topic. It is not necessary to know all of these points 100% because it’s a lot of information.

Section 1: Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) and Single Sign-On (SSO)

This section will explore the key concepts and configuration methods related to AAA and SSO in F5 APM. The topics covered include:

1.01 Configuring Different Types of AAA Methods

To effectively configure AAA methods in F5 APM, you need to be familiar with various authentication protocols and technologies, such as Microsoft Active Directory, LDAP, RADIUS, RSA SecurID, TACACS, Kerberos, NTLM, and client certificate authentication. You can configure AAA objects and end-point management system profiles by understanding these methods.

1.02 Network Requirements for Authentication Services

Each authentication service type in F5 APM has specific network requirements. It is essential to demonstrate knowledge of testing and validating connectivity to each authentication service, such as Active Directory and LDAP, using tools like adtest output and ldapsearch output.

BIG-IP Access Policy Manager: Authentication Methods

1.03 Configuring SSO Objects

F5 APM provides different types of SSO objects; it is important to understand their requirements and when to choose one type over another. You will learn about specific SSO object requirements, such as Kerberos SPN requirements, and how to configure them effectively.

1.04 Configuring SAML as an SP and/or IdP

SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) is widely used for SSO implementations. You will explore how to integrate BIG-IP APM Service Provider (SP) with external vendor IdPs (Identity Providers) like PING, Okta, and SaaS platforms. Additionally, you will learn about configuring Single Logout (SLO) for SAML.

Section 2: Network and Application Access

This section will focus on network and application access configuration using F5 APM. The topics covered include:

2.01 Configuring SSL VPN of F5 CTS-APM

You will learn how to manually configure SSL VPN or use a wizard in F5 APM. This includes determining the appropriate network, portal, or web application access options. You will also choose the suitable Webtop type and configure the profile settings for Network Access Profiles.

2.02 Configuring Network Access Profiles

You will configure Network Access Profiles in F5 APM to ensure secure and optimised network access. This involves setting up profile settings like connectivity options, edge client options, updates, SNAT (Secure Network Address Translation), and App Optimization.

2.03 Configuring Portal Access of F5 CTS APM

Portal access allows users to access resources through a centralized portal. You will learn how to configure portal access in F5 APM by determining the appropriate level of patching, evaluating global ACL orders, and configuring resource items.

2.04 Configuring Application Access

Application access is a crucial aspect of F5 APM. You will explore how to configure remote desktop access, launch applications, define custom parameters, deploy Citrix bundles, and configure app tunnels.

2.05 Configuring Web Access Management (LTM-APM Mode)

Web Access Management is vital in managing web traffic and securing web resources. You will learn how to configure pools and virtual servers and when to utilize Web Access Management in F5 APM.

Section 3: Visual Policy Editor of F5 CTS-APM

The Visual Policy Editor (VPE) in F5 APM allows visual policy creation and customization. This section focuses on key aspects of VPE:

3.01 Configuring Authentication and Logon Objects in VPE

Authentication and logon objects are fundamental components of access policies. You will learn how to configure authentication and query objects, determine group membership, configure required attributes, and add appropriate login page types.

3.02 Configuring Resource/Custom Variables

F5 APM allows the use of resources and custom variables for dynamic policy configuration. You will explore setting up SSO credential mapping, assigning webtops dynamically, and configuring variable assignments within VPE.

3.03 Configuring VPE Flow with Multiple Branches and Objects

Understanding policy ending types, displaying variables in VPE using message boxes, and assigning custom session variables are crucial skills. You will learn how to configure VPE flow effectively with multiple branches and objects.

3.04 Configuring and Applying Macros of F5 CTS-APM

Macros help streamline policy creation in VPE. You will learn how to create and apply macros, including combining multiple VPE objects and understanding the differences between macros and access policies.

Section 4: Deploy and Maintain iApps of F5 CTS-APM

iApps provide automated application deployment and configuration management in F5 APM. This section covers essential aspects of iApps:

4.01 Determining When to Use an iApp

You will understand when to use iApps and how to import and deploy supported iApp templates. Additionally, you will learn about the required BIG-IP module versions and modules needed to deploy specific iApp templates.

4.02 Maintaining iApps of F5 CTS-APM

Maintaining deployed iApps requires reconfiguration and identifying the iApp used to deploy an object. You will explore the procedural concepts to maintain iApps effectively.

iApps Home

4.03 Enabling/Disabling Strict Updates for Applications

Strict updates impact the updating process for application services. You will learn when to enable or disable strict updates and understand the implications of disabling strict updates in F5 APM.

K51033596: Error Message: 010715bc:3: The application service () has strict updates enabled, the object () must be updated using an application management interface.

Section 5: Administering and Troubleshooting BIG-IP APM

This section focuses on administrative tasks and troubleshooting techniques for BIG-IP APM:

5.01 Managing and Maintaining Access Profiles

Managing access profiles in F5 APM involves understanding profile scope and tuning policy settings. You will explore the proper use of profile scope and the importance of tuning settings like multiple concurrent users and limiting active sessions per IP address.

5.02 Customizing the User Interface

To enhance user experience, you can customize the BIG-IP APM user interface. This includes applying corporate branding elements like logos, footers, and logon forms and adding additional languages for localization.

5.03 High Availability Considerations for BIG-IP APM

It is crucial to understand high availability (HA) and its implications for end users, policy sync, and device fail-over. You will learn about the limitations of HA pairs and traffic groups and how to configure Access Policy Sync.

5.04 Provisioning and Licensing for F5 CTS-APM

Proper provisioning and licensing are essential for successful deployments in F5 APM. You will learn how to update existing licenses and consider Concurrent User (CCU) utilization for different access policy deployments.

5.05 Gathering Relevant Data of F5 CTS-APM

To troubleshoot issues effectively, you must gather relevant data from various BIG-IP tools, such as session reports, session variables, tcpdump, ssldump, sessiondump, and APM logs. Additionally, you will explore adding debug logic to APM iRules and configuring debug logging.

5.06 Determining Root Cause

Analyzing and correlating collected data to identify the root cause of issues is crucial. You will learn how to compare expected vs actual behaviours, analyze client/BIG-IP/server-side data, and determine the cause of EPSEC (Endpoint Security) failures.

Section 6: F5 CTS-APM Security

Security plays a significant role in F5 APM deployments. This section focuses on various security aspects:

6.01 Mitigating Common Attack Vectors and Methodologies

Understanding how BIG-IP APM mitigates common security risks, including cookie hijacking and DoS attacks, is crucial. You will explore the features and functionalities within BIG-IP that provide mitigation against these attack vectors.

6.02 Mitigating Authentication Attacks with F5 CTS-APM Features

F5 APM offers specific features to mitigate authentication attacks. You will learn how to configure logging, deploy multi-factor authentication (MFA), and configure SNMP traps to enhance security.

6.03 Managing User Sessions of F5 CTS-APM

Effectively managing user sessions is essential for a secure and efficient deployment. You will learn how to identify user session details and understand BIG-IP APM session cookies.

6.04 Understanding Secure Web Gateway (SWG) Use Cases

Secure Web Gateway (SWG) deployment scenarios vary based on transparent or explicit proxy configurations. You will understand the purpose and applications of SWG within F5 APM.

6.05 Describing Access Policy Timeouts and Security

Access policy timeouts impact the security and user experience within F5 APM deployments. You will explore the differences between inactivity timeout, access policy timeout, and maximum session timeout.

6.06 Configuring and Managing ACLs

Access Control Lists (ACLs) play a crucial role in network security for application access. You will understand when to deploy layer 4 or layer 7 ACLs and how they are deployed by default when creating a policy.

6.07 Understanding Network Security Requirements for Application Access

To ensure secure application access, understanding the network security requirements is crucial. You will learn about the TCP/UDP ports required for different application services.

6.08 Implementing Endpoint Security (EPSEC)

Endpoint Security (EPSEC) is a critical component of secure access deployments. You will learn how to configure client-side checks, update and install EPSEC software, and enhance security for F5 APM.

Study Resources of F5 CTS-APM

To supplement your learning, the following study resources are highly recommended:

  • F5 Operation Guide APM: The comprehensive guide for F5 APM operations provides in-depth information and should be thoroughly studied to be well-prepared for the exam.
  • F5 Knowledge Center BIG-IP APM: The F5 Knowledge Center is a valuable resource with many articles and documentation related to BIG-IP APM.
  • F5 Bootcamp Labs: The F5 Bootcamp Labs offer hands-on exercises and practical scenarios to deepen your understanding of F5 APM concepts and configurations.
  • Community Training Classes & Labs: Joining study groups, such as LinkedIn and Telegram groups dedicated to F5 APM, allows you to engage with peers and gain insights from their experiences.
  • Practice Exams: Practice exams are available to test your knowledge and identify areas that require further study. These exams help simulate the real exam environment and provide detailed explanations for each question.

Practice Exercises and Labs

Setting up a laboratory environment is highly recommended to reinforce your knowledge and gain hands-on experience. The lab should include F5 instances, Active Directory, LDAP, RADIUS, web servers, and other required components. You can obtain trial licenses for F5 virtual instances or purchase laboratory licenses to create your lab environment. The provided lab guide and other available labs will enhance your practical skills.

By actively participating in practice exercises and labs, you will better understand F5 APM functionalities and their application in real-world scenarios.


F5 solutions

  • Trial F5 license (register require). It is only 30 days.

BIG-IP Virtual Edition

  • Buy laboratory license (It has 10 Mbps for throughput). It is a perpetual license.

BIG-IP Virtual Edition Lab License (v. 18.x) – license – 10 Mbps – F5-BIG-VE-LAB-V18 – Network Management –

In both cases, these licenses have all modules.

Join Study Groups F5 CTS-APM

Joining study groups, both online and offline, can be highly beneficial. You can connect with other professionals who have taken or are preparing for the F5 CTS-APM (304) exam. These groups provide a platform for sharing information, asking questions, and accessing additional study materials.

Take Practice Exams F5 CTS-APM

To assess your readiness for the exam, take advantage of practice exams. The provided practice test and its explanations for each question will help you evaluate your knowledge and identify areas that require further attention.

By following this study guide, actively engaging with study materials, and leveraging practice exercises, labs, and practice exams, you will be well-prepared to successfully pass the F5 CTS-APM (304) exam and demonstrate your proficiency in F5 Access Policy Manager. Best of luck with your exam preparation!

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