Heartbeat interfaces

Heartbeat interfaces

Fortinet suggests the following practices related to heartbeat interfaces:

Do not use a FortiGate switch port for the HA heartbeat traffic. This configuration is not supported.

  • For clusters of two FortiGate units, as much as possible, heartbeat interfaces should be directly connected using patch cables (without involving other network equipment such as switches). If switches have to be used they should not be used for other network traffic that could flood the switches and cause heartbeat delays.
  • If you cannot use a dedicated switch, the use of a dedicated VLAN can help limit the broadcast domain to protect the heartbeat traffic and the bandwidth it creates.
  • For clusters of three or four FortiGate units, use switches to connect heartbeat interfaces. The corresponding heartbeat interface of each FortiGate unit in the cluster must be connected to the same switch. For improved redundancy use a different switch for each heartbeat interface. In that way if the switch connecting one of the heartbeat interfaces fails or is unplugged, heartbeat traffic can continue on the other heartbeat interfaces and switch.
  • Isolate heartbeat interfaces from user networks. Heartbeat packets contain sensitive cluster configuration information and can consume a considerable amount of network bandwidth. If the cluster consists of two FortiGate units, connect the heartbeat interfaces directly using a crossover cable or a regular Ethernet cable. For clusters with more than two units, connect heartbeat interfaces to a separate switch that is not connected to any network.
  • If heartbeat traffic cannot be isolated from user networks, enable heartbeat message encryption and authentication to protect cluster information. See Enabling or disabling HA heartbeat encryption and authentication.
  • Configure and connect redundant heartbeat interfaces so that if one heartbeat interface fails or becomes disconnected, HA heartbeat traffic can continue to be transmitted using the backup heartbeat interface. If heartbeat communication fails, all cluster members will think they are the primary unit resulting in multiple devices on the network with the same IP addresses and MAC addresses (condition referred to as Split Brain) and communication will be disrupted until heartbeat communication can be reestablished.
  • Do not monitor dedicated heartbeat interfaces; monitor those interfaces whose failure should trigger a device failover.
  • Where possible at least one heartbeat interface should not be connected to an NPx processor to avoid NPx-related problems from affecting heartbeat traffic.

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