Solutions Architect, OpenVMS Ambassador, MCSE
This paper discusses the cluster technologies for the
operating systems running on HP server platforms, including HP-UX, Linux,
NonStop Kernel, OpenVMS, Tru64 UNIX and Windows 2000. I describe the common functions which all of the cluster
technologies perform, show where they are the same and where they are different
on each platform, and introduce a method of fairly evaluating the technologies
to match them to business requirements.
I do not discuss performance, base functionality of the operating
systems, or system hardware.
This article draws heavily from the HP ETS 2002 presentation
of the same name.
Clustering technologies are highly inter-related, with almost
everything affecting everything else.
But I have broken this subject into five areas:
- Single/multi-system views, which defines how you manage
and work with a system, whether as individual systems or as a single combined
- Cluster file systems, which defines how you work with
storage across the cluster. Cluster
file systems are just coming into their own in the UNIX world, and I will talk
about how they work in detail.
- Configurations, which defines how you assemble a
cluster, both physically and logically.
- Application support, which discusses how applications
which are running on your single standalone system today, can take advantage of
a clustered environment. Do they need
to change, and if so how? What benefits
are there in a clustered environment?
- Resilience, which talks about when bad things happen to
good computer rooms. This covers things
like host-based RAID, wide area "stretch" clusters, extended clusters, and
disaster tolerant scenarios.
I cover the capabilities of Linux LifeKeeper, NonStop Kernel
G06.13, Serviceguard 11i both for HP-UX and Linux, TruCluster V5.1b, OpenVMS
Cluster Software V7.3-1, and Windows 2000 DataCenter system clusters.
For Linux, I focus on the High Availability side, not the
HPTC (i.e., Beowulf) technologies.
In order to evaluate the cluster technologies fairly, we need
to define four terms: scalability, reliability, availability and manageability.
- Availability defines whether the application stays up, even
when components of the cluster go down.
If I have two systems in a cluster and one goes down but the other picks
up the workload, that application is available even though half of my cluster
is down. Part of availability is
failover time, because if it takes 30 seconds for the application to fail over
to the other system, the users on the first system think that the application
is down for those 30 seconds.
Reliability defines how well the system performs during a
failure of some of the components. If I
get sub-second query response and if my batch job finishes in 8 hours with all
of the systems in the cluster working properly, do I still get that level of
performance if one or more of my systems in the cluster is down? If I have two systems in a cluster and each
system has 500 active users with acceptable performance, will the performance
still be acceptable if one of the systems fails and there are now 1,000 users
on a single system? Keep in mind that
your users neither know nor care how many systems there are in your cluster,
they simply care whether they can rely on the environment to get their work
Notice that reliability and availability are orthogonal concepts, where you can
have one but not the other. How many
times have you logged into a system (i.e., it was available), but it was so
slow as to be useless (i.e., it was not reliable)?
Scalability defines the percentage of useful performance you
get from a group of systems. For
example, if I add a second system to a cluster, do I double my performance, or
do I get a few percentage points less than that? If I add a third, do I triple the performance of one, or not?
- Manageability tells us how much additional work it is to
manage those additional systems in the cluster. If I add a second system to my cluster, have I doubled my
workload because now I have to do everything twice? Or have I added only a very small amount of work, because I can
manage the cluster as a single entity?
Multi-system-view clusters are generally comprised of two
systems, where each system is dedicated to a specific set of tasks. Storage is physically cabled to both
systems, but each file system can only be mounted on one of the systems. This means that the applications cannot
simultaneously access data from both systems at the same time. It also means that the operating system
files cannot be shared between the two systems, so there needs to be a fully
independent boot device (called a "system root" or "system
disk") with a full set of operating system and cluster software files for
Multi-system-view clusters in an active-passive mode are the
easiest for vendors to implement. They
simply have a spare system on standby in case the original system fails in some
way. The spare system is idle most of
the time, except in the event of a failure of the active system. This is why it is called active-passive,
because one of the systems is active and the other is not during normal
operations. This is classically called
N+1 clustering, where N=1 for a two system cluster. For clusters with larger numbers of systems, you would have a
spare server that could take over for any number of active systems.
Failover can be manual or automatic. Because both systems are cabled to the same
storage array, the spare system will be monitoring the primary system and can
start the services on the secondary system if it detects a failure of the
primary system. The "heartbeat"
function can be over the network or by some private interface.
In a multi-system-view cluster in an active-passive mode, the
availability, reliability, scalability, and manageability characteristics can
be described as follows:
Availability is increased because you now have two
systems available to do the work. The
odds of both systems being broken at the same time are fairly low but still
- Reliability can be perfect in this environment, because
if the two systems are identical in terms of hardware, the application will
have the same performance no matter which system it is running on.
- Scalability is poor (non-existent?) in an
active-passive cluster. Because the
applications cannot access a single set of data from both systems, there is no
scalability in a multi-system-view cluster.
You have two systems' worth of hardware doing one system's worth of
- Manageability is poor, because it takes approximately
twice as much work to manage as that of a single system. Because there are two system roots, any
patches or other updates need to be installed twice, backups need to be done
twice, etc. Further, you have to test
the failover and failback, which adds to the system management workload
Notice that the second system is idle most of the time, and
you are getting no business benefit from it.
So the other alternative is to have both systems working.
The physical environment of a multi-system-view cluster in an
active-active mode is identical to that of the active-passive mode. There are generally two systems, physically
cabled to a common set of storage, but only able to mount each file system on
one of the systems. The difference in
this case is there are multiple systems that are performing useful work as well
as monitoring each other's health.
However, they are not running the same application on the same data,
because they are not sharing anything between the systems.
For example, a database environment could segment their
customers into two groups, such as all people with last names from A-M and from
N-Z. Then each group would be set up on
a separate partition on the shared storage, and each system would handle one of
the groups. This is known as a
"federated" database. Or one of the
systems could be running the entire database and the other system could be
running the applications that access that database.
In the event of a failure, one system would handle both
This is called an N+M cluster, because any of the systems can
take over for any of the other systems.
One way to define N and M is to think about how many tires you have on
your automobile. Most people
automatically say four, but then realize that they really have five tires, operating in an N+1 environment,
because four tires are required for
minimum operation of the vehicle. A
variation is to use the "donut" tires, which offer limited performance but
enough to get by. This can be thought
of as having 4½ tires on the vehicle.
The key is to define what level of performance and functionality you
require, and then define N and M properly for that environment.
Failover can be manual or automatic. The "heartbeat" function
can be over the network or by some private interface.
In a multi-system-view cluster in an active-active mode, the
availability, reliability, scalability, and manageability characteristics can
be described as follows:
- Availability is increased because you now have two
systems available to do the work. Just
as in the active-passive environment, the odds of both systems being broken at
the same time are fairly low but still present.
- Reliability is not guaranteed in this situation. If each system is running at 60% of
capacity, then a failure will force the surviving system to work at 120% of
capacity, and we all know what happens when you exceed about 80% of
- Scalability is poor in this situation because each
workload must still fit into one system.
There is no way to spread a single application across multiple systems.
- Manageability is slightly worse than the active-passive
scenario, because you still have two independent systems, as well as the
overhead of the failover scripts and heartbeat.
One of the factors affecting availability is the amount of
time it takes to accomplish the failover of a multi-system-view cluster,
whether active-active or active-passive.
The surviving system must:
- Notice that the other system is no longer available,
which is when the "heartbeat" function on the surviving system does not get an
answer back from the failed system.
- Mount the disks that were on the failing system. Remember that the file systems are only
mounted on one system at a time: this is an unbreakable rule, and a definition
of multi-system-view clusters. So the surviving
system must mount the disks that were mounted on the other system. If you have a large number of disks, or
large RAIDsets, this could take a while.
Start the applications that were active on the failing
Initiate the recovery sequence for that software. For databases, this might include processing
the re-do logs in order to process any in-flight transactions which the failing
system was performing at the time of the failure.
In large environments, it is not unusual to have this take
30-60 minutes. And during this recovery
time, the applications that were running on the failed system are unavailable,
and the applications that were running on the surviving system are suffering
from reliability problems, because the single system is now doing much more
In contrast, single-system-view clusters offer a unified view
of the entire cluster. All systems are
physically cabled to all storage and can directly mount all storage on all
systems. This means that all systems
can run all applications, see the same data on the same partitions, and
cooperate at a very low level. Further,
it means that the operating system files can be shared in a single "shared
root" or "shared system disk," reducing the amount of storage and
the amount of management time needed for system maintenance. There are no spare systems. All systems can run all
applications at all times. And in a single-system-view
cluster, there can be many systems. In
a single-system-view cluster, the availability, reliability, scalability, and
manageability characteristics can be described as follows:
So now that we understand the terms, how do the clusters on
HP systems fit into these schemes?
OpenVMS Cluster Software
Linux clustering is split between massive system compute
farms (Beowulf and others) and a multi-system-view, failover clustering
scheme. I am not talking about the High
Performance Technical Computing market here, which breaks down a massive
problem into many (hundreds or thousands) of tiny problems and hands them off
to many (hundreds or thousands) of small compute engines. The point is that this is not a high
availability environment, because if any of those compute engines fails, that
piece of the job has to be restarted from scratch.
The high availability efforts going on with SuSE and others
are focused on multi-system-view clusters consisting of two systems so that
applications can fail over from one system to the other. I will talk later about some cluster file
system projects such as Lustre, GFS and PolyServe, but these do not offer
shared root, so systems in Linux clusters require individual system disks.
I will not be discussing the work being done by HP as part of
the Single System Image Linux project, because it is not yet a product. But when this becomes a product, it will
have significant capabilities that match or exceed every other clustering
Serviceguard is a multi-system-view failover cluster. Each system in a Serviceguard cluster
requires its own system disk. There are
excellent system management capabilities via the Service Control Manager and
the Event Management Service, including the ability to register software in the
System Configuration Repository, get system snapshots, compare different
systems in the cluster, etc. It is also
well integrated with HP/OpenView.
Himalaya NonStop Kernel
The Himalaya NonStop Kernel can be configured either as a
multi-system-view cluster or, more commonly, as a single-system-view
cluster. It offers the best scalability
in the industry, in fact, true linear scalability because of the superb cluster
interconnect, both hardware and software.
Each cabinet of up to 16 processors can share a system disk and is
considered one system.
TruCluster V5.1b represents a major advance in UNIX
clustering technology. It can only be
configured as a single-system-view, with all of the focus on clustering being
to manage a single system or a large cluster in exactly the same way, with the
same tools, and roughly the same amount of effort. It offers a fully shared root, with a single copy of almost all
OpenVMS Cluster Software
OpenVMS Cluster Software has always been the gold standard of
clustering. It also can be configured
as either multi-system view or single-system view, although the most common is
single-system view. It supports a
single or multiple system disks.
Windows 2000 DataCenter
Windows 2000 DataCenter is a multi-system-view failover
scheme. Applications are written to
fail over from one system to another.
Each system in a Windows 2000 DataCenter cluster requires its own system
disk. This is not to say that there
aren't tools like the Cluster Administrator, which can ease some of this
burden, but they are still separate system disks that must be maintained.
Cluster file systems are how systems communicate with the storage
subsystem in the cluster. There are
really two technologies here: how a group of systems communicates with volumes
that are physically connected to all of the systems, and how a group of systems
communicates with volumes that are only physically connected to one of the
Network I/O allows all of the systems in a cluster to access
data, but in a very inefficient way that does not scale well. Let's say that volume A is a disk or tape
drive which is physically cabled to a private IDE or SCSI adapter on system
A. It cannot be physically accessed by
any other system in the cluster, so if any other system in the cluster wants to
access files on it, it must do network I/O, usually by some variation of NFS.
Specifically, if system B wants to talk to the device that is
mounted on system A, the network client on system B communicates to the network
server on system A, in the following way:
- An I/O is initiated across the cluster interconnect from
system B to system A.
- System A receives the request, and initiates the I/O request
to the volume.
- System A gets the data back from the volume, and then
initiates an I/O back to system B.
Notice that there are three I/Os for each disk access. For
NFS, there is also significant locking overhead with many NFS clients. This leads to poor I/O performance with an
So why does every system offer network I/O? To deal with single-user devices that cannot
be shared, such as tapes, CD-ROM, DVD or diskettes, and to allow access to
devices that are on private communications paths, such as disks on private IDE
or SCSI busses.
In contrast, direct access I/O (also known as concurrent I/O)
means that each system is able to independently access any and all devices,
without bothering any other node in the cluster. Notice that this is different from direct I/O, which simply
bypasses the file systems cache. Most
database systems do direct I/O both in a clustered and non-clustered environment,
because they are caching the data anyway, and don't need to use the file
Implementing direct access I/O allows a cluster file system
to eliminate two out of three I/Os involved in the disk access in network I/O,
because each system talks directly over the storage interconnect to the
volumes. It also provides full file
system transparency and cache coherency across the cluster.
Now, you may object that we could overwhelm a single disk
with too many requests. Absolutely
true, but this is no different from the same problem with other file systems,
whether they are clustered or not.
Single disks, and single database rows, are inevitably going to become
bottlenecks. You design and tune around
them on clusters in exactly the same way you design and tune around them on any
other single member operating system, using the knowledge and tools you use
The I/O attributes of HP cluster offerings are summarized in
the following table.
Direct Access I/O
Distributed Lock Manager
Oracle raw devices, GFS
Supplied by Oracle
Oracle raw devices
Data Access Manager
Device Request Dispatcher
Cluster File System
OpenVMS Cluster Software
Mass Storage Control Protocol
Files-11 on ODS-2 or -5
Supplied by Oracle
Supplied by Oracle
Pretty much every system in the world can do client/server
I/O, here called network I/O. And this
makes sense, because every system in the world has the problem of sharing devices
that are not on shared busses, so you need to offer this functionality.
FailSafe and Serviceguard do it with NFS or Veritas, NonStop
Kernel does it with the Data Access Manager (DAM), TruCluster does it both with
the Device Request Dispatcher (DRD) and the Cluster File System, OpenVMS
Cluster Software does it with the Mass Storage Control Protocol (MSCP), and
Windows 2000 does it with NTFS and Storage Groups.
The more interesting case is direct access I/O. One point I need to make here is that Oracle
offers direct access I/O on raw devices on almost every system they
support. Raw devices are not as
functional as file systems, but they do exist and they do (at least with
Oracle) offer direct access I/O on every major computing platform in the industry.
One of the Linux projects being done by HP and Cluster File
Systems Inc for the US Department of Energy will enhance the Lustre File System
originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University. It is focused on high-performance technical computing environments. Oracle has developed a cluster file system
for the database files for Linux, as part of Oracle 9i Real Application
Clusters 9.2. It is a layer on top of raw devices.
NonStop Kernel is interesting, because, strictly speaking,
all of the I/O is network I/O, and yet because of the efficiencies and
reliability of NSK, and the ability of NSK to transparently pass ownership of
the volume between CPUs, it shows all of the best features of direct access I/O
without the poor performance and high overhead of all other network I/O
schemes. So, effectively, NSK offers
direct access I/O, even though it is done using network I/O. The NonStop Kernel (effectively NonStop SQL)
utilizes a "shared-nothing" data access methodology. Each processor owns a
subset of disk drives whose access is controlled by processes called the Data
Access Managers (DAM). The DAM controls and coordinates all access to the disk
so a DLM is not needed.
Serviceguard and Windows 2000 DataCenter do not offer a
direct access I/O methodology of their own, but rely on Oracle raw
devices. Oracle has developed a cluster
file system for Windows 2000 DataCenter for the database files, as part of
Oracle 9i Real Application Clusters 9.2. It is a layer on top of raw
TruCluster offers a cluster
file system (CFS) which allows transparent access to any file system from any
system in the cluster. However, all
write operations, as well as all read operations on files smaller than
64KBytes, are done by the CFS server system upon request by the CFS client
systems. In effect, all write
operations and all read operations on small files are performed using network
I/O. The only exception to this is
applications which open the file with O_DIRECTIO.
OpenVMS Cluster Software
extends the semantics of the Files-11 file system transparently into the
cluster world. A file which is opened
for shared access by two processes on a single system, and the same file which
is opened for shared access by two processes on two different systems in a
cluster, will act identically. In
effect, all file operations are automatically cluster-aware.
Every operating system has a lock manager for files in a
non-clustered environment. A
distributed lock manager simply takes this concept and applies it between and
among systems. Oracle, because they
need to run in the same way across many operating environments, developed their
own distributed lock manager, which is available on Linux and Windows systems.
Serviceguard includes a distributed lock manager as part of
the Serviceguard Extension for RAC.
NSK does not even have the concept of a distributed lock
manager. All resources (files, disk
volumes, etc) are local to a specific CPU, and all communication to any of
those resources is done via the standard messaging between CPUs, so any locking
required is done locally to that CPU.
But again, because of the efficiencies of the implementation, this
scales superbly well.
TruCluster has the standard set of UNIX APIs for local
locking, and a separate set of APIs that were implemented to allow applications
to perform distributed locking.
Applications need to be modified to use the distributed locking APIs in
order to become cluster-aware.
OpenVMS Cluster Software uses the same locking APIs for all
locks, and makes no distinction between local locks and remote locks. In effect, all applications are
Before discussing cluster configurations, it is important to
understand the concept of quorum.
Quorum devices (which can be disks or systems) are a way to break the
tie when two systems are equally capable of forming a cluster and mounting all
of the disks, and will prevent cluster partitioning.
When a cluster is first configured, you assign each system a
certain number of votes, generally 1.
Each cluster environment defines a value for the number of "expected
votes" that there should be for optimal performance. This is almost always the number of systems in the cluster. From there, we can calculate the "required
quorum" value, which is the number of votes that are required to form a
cluster. If the "actual quorum" value
is below this number, the software will refuse to form a cluster, and will
generally refuse to run at all.
For example, assume there are two members of the cluster,
system A and system B, each with one vote, so the required quorum of this
cluster is 2.
Now in a running cluster, expected votes is the sum of all of
the members with which the connection manager can communicate. Since the cluster interconnect is working,
there are 2 systems available and no quorum disk, so this value is 2. So actual quorum is greater than or equal to
required quorum, and we have a valid cluster.
But what happens if the cluster interconnect fails? The cluster is broken, and a cluster
The connection manager of system A cannot communicate with
system B, so actual votes becomes 1 for each of the systems. Applying the equation, actual quorum becomes
1, which is less than the number of required quorum that is needed to form a
cluster, so both systems stop and refuse to continue processing.
But what would happen if one or both of the systems continue
on its own? Because there is no
communication between the systems, they would both try to form a single system
cluster, as follows:
- System A decides to form a cluster, and mounts all of
- But system B also decides to form a cluster, and also
mounts all of the disks. This is called
- The disks are mounted on two systems that cannot
communicate with each other. This
usually leads to instant disk corruption, as they both try to create, delete,
extend and write to files without doing things like locking or cache
So how do we avoid this?
A quorum device.
Same configuration as before, but here we have added a quorum
disk, which is physically cabled to both systems. Each of the systems has one vote, and the quorum disk has one
vote. The connection manager of system
A can communicate with system B and with the quorum disk, so expected votes is
3. This means that the quorum is
2. But the cluster interconnect fails
again. So what happens this time?
- Both systems attempt to form a cluster, but system A
wins the race and accesses the quorum disk first. Because it cannot connect to system B, and the quorum disk
watcher on system A observes that at this moment there is no remote I/O
activity on the quorum disk, system A becomes the founding member of the
cluster, and writes into the quorum disk things like the system id of the
founding member of the cluster, and the time that the cluster was newly
formed. System A then computes the
votes of all of the cluster members (itself and the quorum disk for a total of
2) and observes it has sufficient votes to form a cluster. It does so, and then mounts all of the disks
on the shared bus.
- System B comes in second and accesses the quorum
disk. Because it cannot connect to
system A, it thinks it is the founding member of the cluster, so it checks this
fact with the quorum disk, and discovers that system A is in fact the founding
member of the cluster. But system B
cannot communicate with system A, and as such, it cannot access the quorum
disk. So system B then computes the
votes of all of the cluster members (itself only, so only one vote) and
observes it does not have sufficient votes to form a cluster. Depending on other settings, it may or may
not continue booting, but it does not attempt to form or join the cluster. There is no partitioning of the cluster.
In this way only one of the systems will mount all of the
disks in the cluster. If there are
other systems in the cluster, the value of required quorum and expected quorum
would be higher, but the same algorithms will allow those systems that can
communicate with the founding member of the cluster to join the cluster, and
those systems which cannot communicate with the founding member of the cluster
to be excluded from the cluster.
The following table summarizes important configuration
characteristics of HP cluster technologies.
Max Systems In Cluster
Yes = 2, optional >2
8 generally, 32 w/Alpha SC
OpenVMS Cluster Software
CI, Network, MC, Shared Mem
Linux is focusing on multi-system-view failover clusters, so
FailSafe supports up to 16 systems in a cluster. These systems are connected by either the network or by serial
cables. Any of the systems can take
over for any of the other systems.
Quorum disks are supported but not required.
Serviceguard can have up to 16 systems, using standard networking
or HyperFabric as a cluster interconnect.
The one special requirement here is that all cluster members must be
present to initially form the cluster (100% quorum requirement), and that
>50% of the cluster must be present in order to continue operation. The quorum disk or quorum system is used as
a tie breaker when there is an even
number of production systems and a 50/50 split is possible. For two
nodes, a quorum device is required, either a disk or system. Quorum devices are optional for any other
size cluster. Cluster quorum disks are
supported for clusters of 2-4 nodes, and cluster quorum systems are supported
for clusters of 2-16 systems.
NonStop Kernel can have up to 255 systems in the cluster, but
given the way the systems interact, it is more reasonable to say that NonStop
Kernel can have 255 systems * 16 processors in each system = 4,080 processors
in a cluster. SystemNet is used as a
communications path for each system, with TorusNet providing the cluster
interconnect to the legacy K-series, and SystemNet providing a more modern
cluster interconnect for the S-series, including remote datacenters. NSK does not use the quorum scheme, because
it is a shared nothing environment where the quorum scheme does not make any
TruCluster can have up to eight systems of any size in a
cluster. For the HPTC market, the Alpha
System SuperComputer system farm can have up to 32 systems. This configuration uses the Quadrix Switch
(QSW) as an extremely high-speed interconnect.
OpenVMS Cluster Software supports up to 96 systems in a
cluster, spread over multiple datacenters up to 500 miles apart. Each of these can also be any combination of
VAX and Alpha systems, or, in 2004, any combination of Itanium and Alpha
systems, for mixed architecture clusters.
TruCluster and OpenVMS Cluster Software recommend the use of
quorum disks for 2 node clusters but make it optional for clusters with larger
numbers of nodes.
Windows 2000 DataCenter can have up to four systems in a
cluster, but keep in mind that Windows 2000 DataCenter is a services sale, and
only Microsoft qualified partners like HP can configure and deliver these
clusters. The only cluster interconnect
available is standard LAN networking.
The following table summarizes application support provided
by the HP cluster technologies.
Single-instance (failover mode)
Packages and Scripts
Cluster Application Availability
OpenVMS Cluster Software
Registration, cluster API
When talking about applications and clusters, there are
really two ways to think about it: single-instance applications and
multi-instance applications. Notice
that these terms are the opposite of multi-system-view and single-system-view
cluster terms that we started with, but those are the terms we are stuck with.
Multi-system-view clusters allow single-instance
applications, which offer failover of applications for high availability, but
don't allow the same application to work on the same data on the different
systems in the cluster.
Single-system-view clusters allow multi-instance
applications, which offer failover for high availability, but also offer
cooperative processing, where applications can interact with the same data and
each other on different systems in the cluster.
A good way to determine if an application is single-instance
or multi-instance is to run the application in several processes on a single
system. If the applications do not
interact in any way, and therefore run properly whether there is only one
process running the application or every process on a single system is running
the application, then the application is single-instance.
An example of a single-instance application is telnet, where
multiple systems in a cluster can offer telnet services, but the different
telnet sessions themselves do not interact with the same data or each other in
any way. If a given system fails, the
user simply logs in to the next system in the cluster and re-starts their
session. This is simple failover. And this is the way that many systems
including Linux and Windows 2000 DataCenter, and all of our competitors, set up
NFS services, as a single instance application in failover mode.
If, on the other hand, the applications running in the
multiple processes interact properly with each other, such as by sharing cache
or locking data structures to allow proper coordination between the application
instances, then the application is multi-instance.
An example of a multi-instance application is a cluster file
system that allows multiple systems to all offer the same set of disks as
services to the rest of the environment.
Having one set of disks being offered by multiple systems requires a
cluster file system with a single-system-view cluster, which can be offered
either in the operating system software itself (TruCluster and OpenVMS Cluster
Software) or by third party software (Oracle 9i Real Application
Clusters). So, even though Linux
FailSafe, Serviceguard and Windows 2000 get a "No" for multi-instance
applications, Oracle is the exception to this.
As I mentioned before, NonStop Kernel does this in a different way, but
offers effectively the same functionality.
Recovery methods implement how the cluster will recover the
applications that were running on a
system which has been removed from the cluster, either deliberately or by a
system failure. For multi-system-view clusters like Linux, this is done by
scripts which are invoked when the heartbeat messages between the cluster
members detects the failure of one of the systems. Two examples for Linux are 'mon' and 'monit.'
For fault tolerant systems like NonStop Kernel, recovery is
done by paired processes, where a backup process is in lockstep with a primary
process, ready to take over in the event of any failure.
Serviceguard has extensive tools to group applications and
the resources needed to run them, into "packages" which are then
managed as single units. The system
administrator can define procedures to recover and re-start the application
packages onto another system in a cluster in the event of server failure. This is one of the ways Serviceguard leads
the industry in UNIX clustering technology.
Both TruCluster and OpenVMS Cluster multi-instance
applications have built-in methods that enable recovery from failing systems. Both TruCluster and OpenVMS Cluster Software
can monitor some applications and recover them automatically. TruCluster does this via the Cluster
Application Availability facility, and OpenVMS Cluster Software does this by
the /RESTART switch on the batch SUBMIT command.
three main recovery methods with Windows 2000 Datacenter:
application/generic service. This doesn't require development of any kind,
simply a one-time registration of the application for protection by Windows
2000 Datacenter. There is also a wizard to guide administrators through this
process step by step.
resource type. The application itself is unchanged, but the application vendor
(or other party) develops a custom resource DLL that interfaces an application
with Windows 2000 Datacenter to do application-specific monitoring and
failover. Again, this doesn't require any development at integration time,
simply registration of the application using the custom resource DLL.
API. Here the application is modified to explicitly comprehend that it's
running in a clustered environment and can perform cluster-related operations,
e.g., failover, query nodes, etc.
The following table summarizes cluster resilience
characteristics of HP cluster technologies.
Distributed Replicated Block Device (DRBD)
I/O (a) MirrorDisk/UX
Multi-Path I/O (p), RAID-1, Process Pairs
Remote Database Facility
Multi-Path I/O (a)
StorageWorks Continuous Access
OpenVMS Cluster Software
Multi-Path I/O (p) HBVS RAID-1
DTCS, StorageWorks Continuous Access
StorageWorks Continuous Access
One of the major selling points of clusters is high
availability, even when things go wrong, such as storage subsystem failures or
peak workloads beyond expectations, and even when things go very wrong, such as
physical disasters. So how do clusters
on HP systems cope with these things?
Dynamic partitions protect against peaks and valleys in your
workload. Traditionally you built a
system with the CPUs and memory for the worst-case workload, accepting the fact
that this extra hardware would be unused most of the time. And with hard partitioning becoming more
popular because of system consolidation, each hard partition would require
enough CPUs and memory for the worst-case workload. But dynamic partitioning lets you share this extra hardware
between partitions of a larger system, so that, for example, you can allocate
the majority of your CPUs to the on-line processing partition during the day,
and move them to the batch partition at night.
Only HP-UX with vPars and OpenVMS with Galaxy offers this
functionality. Both offer the ability
to dynamically move CPUs between the partitions either via a GUI or the command
line. Galaxy offers the ability to
share physical memory that is available to two or more Galaxy partitions. HP-UX offers the capability for the Work
Load Management (WLM) tools to move the CPUs in response to goal-based
Notice that all of the above software runs in the base
operating systems, not just in the clustering products. Both vPars and Galaxy partitions can be
clustered just as any other instances of the respective operating systems can
Data high availability assumes that all the proper things are
being done at the storage sub-system level, such as redundant host adapters,
redundant paths from the host adapters to the storage controllers (through
redundant switches if you are using FibreChannel), redundant storage
controllers configured for automatic failover, and the appropriate RAID levels
on the disks themselves. And some of
this redundancy requires cooperation from the host operating system,
specifically in the area of multi-path I/O.
Multi-path I/O allows the system to have multiple physical
paths from the host to a specific volume, such as multiple host adapters
connected to redundant storage controllers.
This is extremely common with FibreChannel, but is also achievable with
Support for multi-path I/O can be either active or
passive. Active multi-path I/O means
that both paths are active at the same time, and the operating system can load
balance the I/O requests between the multiple physical pathsby choosing the
host adapter that is least loaded for any given I/O. In the event of a path failure (caused by the failure of the host
adapter or a switch or a storage controller), the operating system would simply
re-issue the I/O request to another path. This action would be transparent to
Passive multi-path I/O means that only one path is active at
one time, but the other path is ready to take over in the event of the first
path failing. This is accomplished in
the same way as the active multi-path I/O, by having the system re-issue the
I/O request. The above chart shows
whether the operating system supports active (a) or passive (p) multi-path I/O.
But all of these technologies are not adequate if you have
multiple simultaneous disk failures, such as by physical destruction of a
The first level of defense against this is host-based RAID,
which performs mirroring or shadowing across multiple storage cabinets. Linux does it with Distributed Replicated
Block Device (DRBD), where one of the systems writes to a local disk and then
sends an update to the other system over the network so it can write a copy of
that data to its local disk.
HP-UX uses MirrorDisk/UX to maintain up to three copies of
the data. The software needed to enable
active multi-path I/O varies depending on the storage system being used by
HP-UX. PowerPath is an EMC product,
which is compiled into the HP-UX kernel to give active multi-path I/O to EMC
storage arrays, where the HP Logical Volume Manager (LVM) gives active
multi-path I/O to the XP and EVA storage sub-systems.
NonStop Kernel provides data high availability using a
combination of RAID-1 (mirrored disks), active multi-path I/O with multiple
SystemNet Fabrics, multiple controller paths, etc, and process pair technology
for the fault tolerant Data Access Managers (DAM).
Tru64 UNIX supports RAID-1 and RAID-5 with the Logical
Storage Manager, which can protect any disk including the system root. LSM also supports active multi-path I/O.
OpenVMS supports RAID-1 with Host-Based Volume Shadowing,
which can maintain up to three copies
of any disk including the system disk.
OpenVMS supports passive multi-path I/O, with operator controlled load
Windows 2000 DataCenter does it with NTFS mirroring. Many storage vendors, including HP, offer
software with their storage offerings, which layers on top of Windows 2000 to
allow passive multi-path I/O. On
Windows, the software is called SecurePath.
Disaster tolerance is what you need to protect computer
operations and data from physical
disasters. In my area of Florida, we worry about hurricanes. In other areas of the world, we worry about
tornadoes or blizzards. And everybody
worries about earthquakes, power failures and fires. The only way to protect from these things is to make sure that
your data is stored somewhere far away, and to do this in as close to real-time
as possible. There are multiple kinds
of data replication, but the two major ones are physical replication and logical
Physical replication can be done by either the system or the
storage sub-system. The systems use the
same software that is used for data high availability detailed above, except
that the second (or in some cases, the third) copy of the data is in another
physical location. Serviceguard uses
MirrorDisk/UX, NonStop Kernel uses the Remote DataCenter Facility (RDF),
TruCluster uses LSM and OpenVMS Cluster Software uses host-based Volume
Shadowing. The rules for accessibility
of the remote volumes by the remote systems are the same as if the remote
volumes and the systems were in the same room as the source systems and
volumes. Only TruCluster and OpenVMS Cluster Software can share volumes between
systems, whether local or remote.
Having the operating system accessing volumes across a wide area
FibreChannel system is called an "extended cluster".
We have the same situation here as we had for RAID, in that
the storage sub-system offers significant capabilities for physical
replication, regardless of the host operating system or clustering software
capabilities. StorageWorks Continuous
Access for the EVA and the XP storage arrays support the clusters of HP
environments and most competitive UNIX systems.
Both the system-based data high availability software and the
storage-based Continuous Access offers active/active bi-directional data
replication. Exactly what does that
Assume you have a production system in Los Angeles, which is
working fine. You want to safeguard
your data, so you decide to build a disaster recovery site in San Bernardino,
about 100km (60 miles) away from Los Angeles.
First, you put in a group of FibreChannel switches, and
connect them using the FibreChannel to ATM adapters to the FibreChannel
switches in your Los Angeles data center.
Then you put a duplicate set of storage in San Bernardino, and begin
replicating the production system's data from Los Angeles to San
Bernardino. This is known as
active/passive replication, because San Bernardino is simply a data sink: no
processing is going on there, mostly because there are no systems on that side.
This works well, but as times goes on you need more than
this: you need processing to continue in San Bernardino even if your Los
Angeles data center is wiped out. So
you put some systems in San Bernardino, and physically cable them to the
storage. But the target volume of the
Continuous Access copy is not available for mounting by the systems, no matter
what operating system they are running, so the San Bernardino site is idle,
simply waiting for a signal to take over the operations from Los Angeles. This signal can be automated or manual, but
in either case, the storage sub-system would break the Continuous Access link,
the systems would mount the volumes, and would then initiate any recovery
mechanisms that have been defined for the application.
But your CFO strenuously objects to having a group of systems
in San Bernardino just sitting idle, so you split your workload and give half
of it to Los Angeles and half of it to San Bernardino. Notice that this is a multi-system-view
implementation, because the target volume of a Continuous Access copy is not
available for mounting by the systems. So,
just as you duplicated the Los Angeles storage in San Bernardino, now you duplicate
the San Bernardino storage in Los Angeles, which you then connect to the
systems in Los Angeles as well, and you setup a Continuous Access copy from San
Bernardino to Los Angeles.
So now you have your Los Angeles production data being
replicated to San Bernardino, and your San Bernardino production data being
replicated to Los Angeles. You could
survive the loss of either data center, and have all of your data in the other
This is known as active/active bi-directional data
replication. Even though each set of
storage is only being replicated in one direction, your business has data being
replicated across the enterprise.
Notice that the replication is being done by the
FibreChannel. The hosts don't know or
care that it is happening.
Failover requires you to explicitly stop the replication
process in the surviving datacenter, and then explicitly mount the storage
subsystems on the systems in the surviving datacenter, to get back into
production. Failback requires the same
type of operation, where you have to synchronize the data between the two
storage subsystems, and then place one of them back into source mode and the
other into target mode, in order to restore the standard configuration.
Notice that in both cases, system-based data high availability
and StorageWorks Continuous Access, the data being replicated is actually being
written multiple times, whether by the system or by the storage
controller. And all of the data on the
source disk is being written to the target disk, whether it is mission-critical
database files or temporary files in a scratch area. This requires careful planning to ensure that you are replicating
everything you need (such as the startup scripts for the database application,
which exists outside the database files and is probably not on the same disk
volumes as the database files), but not too much (such as /tmp).
So how is this different from logical replication? Well, the biggest difference is what is
being replicated and how the replication is being done.
Logical replication ignores the disk volumes and replicates
the transactions themselves. In the
same way that physical replication takes a single write operation and applies
it to multiple disk volumes, logical replication takes a single update
transaction and applies it to multiple databases. The communications can be done over standard networking, and the
systems that operate the multiple databases may or may not be clustered,
depending on the database software chosen.
Once again, you have your data center in Los Angeles, and it
is working fine. Once again you decide
you need a disaster recovery site. But
in this case, you can put that disaster recovery site anywhere you want,
because we are using standard networking technology. So you choose New York for your disaster recovery site.
You put a duplicate of your data center in New York, and then
connect them with a fast networking link.
Notice that this is a fully functional duplication of the data center,
as it requires both systems and storage.
However, it is not required to be a physical duplication: if you only
require that some data is replicated, or if you can accept some lesser
performance when a failover occurs, you can have fewer computing resources in
New York than in Los Angeles. Then you
use logical replication to replicate the database records.
You can either leave it like this, in active/standby mode, or
you can have the New York site start to run some type of production. Notice that it has to be different from the
production run in Los Angeles, because these are two different systems or
clusters and cannot see the same data.
But in the same way we had bi-directional physical replication, you can
have bi-directional logical replication.
This provides both data protection and failover capabilities from New
York to Los Angeles. This is an
active/active logical replication scheme.
But keep in mind, just like in the previous example, failover and
failback are semi-automated processes, with some human intervention required.
Keep in mind what is being replicated here. In the previous example of physical
replication, the storage subsystem was taking whatever bits were written to the
disk and copying them across to the other side. The storage subsystem doesn't have a clue about file systems,
files, database records, re-do logs or transactions. The advantage of this is that *everything* is being replicated:
database files, log files, flat files, everything. But the disadvantage is that a simple operator error (like "rm -r
*" or "DELETE [*...]*.*;*" will be replicated to the target disk in real time.
But logical replication is replicating database transactions,
not volumes. It does not replicate
things like security information, patches to the operating system or
applications, scripts, or any of the myriad of other files which are needed to
maintain the site, all of which have to be replicated and maintained by
hand. But the advantage is that an
operator error that works on files
cannot destroy your entire environment.
One last point about the differences between physical and
logical replication. Physical
replication does not understand the underlying structure of the data that it
works on: it understands which disk blocks have changed, but not which files
those blocks belong to or whether the disk block that was changed was a
database row or a database index.
Therefore, it is impossible to ensure atomicity of a transaction with
physical replication. That is, there is
a window of time where the write operation of (for example) the row information
was successfully replicated but the index information has not yet been
replicated. If the systems that
originated the transaction fail, or the communications link fails at that
moment, the replicated database is probably corrupt.
So, how is this different with OpenVMS Cluster Software and
Disaster Tolerant Cluster Services (DTCS)?
Well, one difference is where the physical replication is being done,
but a more important difference is that the target volumes are fully accessible
from any member of the wide area cluster.
Once again, you have your data center in Los Angeles, and it
is working fine. Once again you decide
you need a disaster recovery site. But
in this case, you can put that disaster recovery site up to 800 km (500 miles)
away, because we are using standard networking technology. So you choose San Diego for your disaster
You put a duplicate of your data center down in San Diego,
and then connect the two sites with an
ATM fabric. There are lots of rules around
this concerning latency and throughput, and quorum schemes get really
interesting, so I really recommend you allow HP to help you design and
implement it. But we have lots of sites
working with this; it isn't that difficult.
Then you use host-based Volume Shadowing for OpenVMS to
replicate the data. Because HBVS is
host-based, all of the systems can mount the volumes directly, with full
read/write access to the drives using direct access I/O. Any writes made by any of the systems will
be written to the storage systems in both Los Angeles and San Diego, and all
other systems will be aware of them with full cache coherency. Any reads will come from the local disks, so
it is very efficient.
There are no standby systems here and no passive storage arrays. We recommend that the ATM fabric be
redundant, so you are protected even in the event of network failure. But even if one of the sites was completely
wiped out, the other site would recover very quickly, because the other systems
already have the disks mounted and operational. It would simply be a cluster transition, and you are back in
So, why is there a distance limitation for this scenario, but
not for extended clusters or storage based Continuous Access? Because this scenario requires a lot of
two-way communication between the sites, and because of the speed of light.
Light travels in a vacuum at 186,282 miles per second. Let's round that off to 200,000 miles per
second to make the math easy. The speed
of 200,000 miles per second means light travels 200 miles per
milli-second. We are worried about
round-trip distances, so light can travel up to 100 miles away and back in 1
milli-second. But light travels
somewhat slower in fibre than in a vacuum, and there are the inevitable switch
delays, so the rule of thumb is that it takes1 milli-second for every 50-mile
round trip. So 500 miles adds 10*1 = 10
milli-seconds to the latency of a disk access.
Given normal disk access latency of 10-15 milli-seconds, this merely doubles
the latency, and the OpenVMS Host-Based Volume Shadowing software can cope with
that. But if you get much more than
that, the software might think the disk at the other end has gone off-line, and
the software will incorrectly break the shadow set. If we increase the timeout feature to get around this, the
software will think the disk is just being slow when it really is inaccessible,
and we will have unacceptable delays in breaking the shadow set when it needs
to be broken.
In the physical and logical replication scenarios, each
volume on one side is merely sending data to the other side, and eventually
getting an acknowledgement back. The
acknowledgement is not overly time critical, and you can keep sending new data
while waiting for the acknowledgement of the data you have already sent. The other side cannot write data to the
target disk, so there is no conflict resolution necessary. So the additional latency of the speed of
light is not as important, so the distance limitations are almost non-existent,
as long as you don't exceed the distance limitations of your interconnect
For obvious reasons, every operating system offers a high
availability option. But their
capabilities vary widely: some systems offer 2-nodes with manual failover
measured in minutes, other systems offer 16 nodes with automated failover time
measured in seconds, while still others offer hundreds or thousands of
processing units with absolutely transparent recovery from failure. And each system knows how to protect itself
in this increasingly insecure world: some systems do it by depending on
FibreChannel replication, others do it by depending on a database to move the
data around the country, and others offer true active/active multi-site
clusters over hundreds of miles.
It is up to you as technologists to understand these
technologies, and to pick the right one for the business task. But you have an additional job that you might not think of: letting your senior
management know the exact capabilities of the technology you chose. Because if you implemented a 2-node, manual
failover system with no disaster tolerance, and your management thinks you have
implemented an infinitely expandable fault tolerant system with zero recovery
time even if the primary datacenter is completely and unexpectedly wiped out,
you have a problem. And you will only
discover you have a problem when the system behaves exactly as you implemented
it, and management discovers that it didn't do what they thought it would
So the answer is to document exactly what your chosen
solution will and won't do, and get full agreement from your senior management
that this is what they want it to do.
And if they come back and say they need it to do more, then you request
more money to get it to do what they need.
In either scenario, HP is available to provide the software and services
to help you design and implement the chosen solution.
I wish to thank Kirk Bresniker, Dan Cox, Jon Harms, Keith
Parris, Bob Sauers and Wesley Sawyer for their invaluable input and review of
On LifeKeeper for Linux
On Serviceguard for HP-UX and Linux
On NonStop Kernel
for general information on Tru64 UNIX and TruCluster
for the QuickSpecs on TruCluster V5.1b
for the documentation. Specifically:
, Cluster Technical Overview
Cluster Technical Overview, Section 2.2
Cluster Technical Overview, Section 3
Hardware Configuration, Section 220.127.116.11
Cluster Administration, Section 4.3, Calculating Cluster Quorum
Highly Available Applications, Chapter 1, Cluster Applications
for the QuickSpecs for the Logical Storage Manager V5.1b
On OpenVMS Cluster Software
for general information on OpenVMS and OpenVMS Cluster Software
for information on OpenVMS Cluster Software V7.3-1
for OpenVMS Cluster Software V7.3-1 SPD
for the documentation. Specifically:
OpenVMS Cluster Systems, Section 2.3.2 shows quorum algorithm, and Chapter 7,
Setting Up and Managing Cluster Queues
Guidelines for OpenVMS Cluster Configurations, Chapter 8, Configuring OpenVMS
Clusters for High Availability and Appendix D, Multi-Site OpenVMS Clusters
Volume Shadowing for OpenVMS, Section 1.5 discusses WAN based RAID-1 for
On Windows 2000