1.4 Clustering for High-Availability

A Novell Cluster Services for Linux cluster consists of the following components:

The benefits that Novell Cluster Services provides can be better understood through the following scenario.

Suppose you have configured a three-server cluster, with a Web server installed on each of the three servers in the cluster. Each of the servers in the cluster hosts two Web sites. All the data, graphics, and Web page content for each Web site is stored on a shared disk system connected to each of the servers in the cluster. Figure 1-1 depicts how this setup might look.

Figure 1-1 Three-Server Cluster

During normal cluster operation, each server is in constant communication with the other servers in the cluster and performs periodic polling of all registered resources to detect failure.

Suppose Web Server 1 experiences hardware or software problems and the users who depend on Web Server 1 for Internet access, email, and information lose their connections. Figure 1-2 shows how resources are moved when Web Server 1 fails.

Figure 1-2 Three-Server Cluster after One Server Fails

Web Site A moves to Web Server 2 and Web Site B moves to Web Server 3. IP addresses and certificates also move to Web Server 2 and Web Server 3.

When you configured the cluster, you decided where the Web sites hosted on each Web server would go if a failure occurred. You configured Web Site A to move to Web Server 2 and Web Site B to move to Web Server 3. This way, the workload once handled by Web Server 1 is evenly distributed.

When Web Server 1 failed, Novell Cluster Services software did the following:

In this example, the failover process happened quickly and users regained access to Web site information within seconds, and in most cases, without logging in again.

Now suppose the problems with Web Server 1 are resolved, and Web Server 1 is returned to a normal operating state. Web Site A and Web Site B will automatically fail back, or be moved back to Web Server 1, and Web Server operation will return to the way it was before Web Server 1 failed.

Novell Cluster Services also provides resource migration capabilities. You can move applications, Web sites, and so on to other servers in your cluster without waiting for a server to fail.

For example, you could have manually moved Web Site A or Web Site B from Web Server 1 to either of the other servers in the cluster. You might want to do this to upgrade or perform scheduled maintenance on Web Server 1, or just to increase performance or accessibility of the Web sites.