Dynamically optimizing weighted load balancing according to how busy cluster units are

Dynamically optimizing weighted load balancing according to how busy cluster units are

In conjunction with using static weights to load balance sessions among cluster units you can configure a cluster to dynamically load balance sessions according to individual cluster unit CPU usage, memory usage, and number of HTTP, FTP, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, or NNTP proxy-based security proflie sessions. If any of these system loading indicators increases above configured thresholds, weighted load balancing dynamically sends fewer new sessions to the busy unit until it recovers.

High CPU or memory usage indicates that a unit is under increased load and may not be able to process more sessions. HTTP, FTP, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, or NNTP proxy use are also good indicators of how busy a cluster unit is, since processing high numbers of these proxy sessions can quickly reduce overall cluster unit performance.

For example, you can set a CPU usage high watermark threshold. When a cluster unit reaches this high watermark threshold fewer sessions are sent to it. With fewer sessions to process the cluster unit’s CPU usage should fall back to the low watermark threshold. When the low watermark threshold is reached the cluster resumes normal load balancing of sessions to the cluster unit.

You can set individual high and low watermark thresholds and weights for CPU usage, memory usage, and for the number of HTTP, FTP, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, or NNTP proxy sessions.

The CPU usage, memory usage, and proxy weights determine how the cluster load balances sessions when a high watermark threshold is reached and also affect how the cluster load balances sessions when multiple cluster units reach different high watermark thresholds at the same time. For example, you might be less concerned about a cluster unit reaching the memory usage high watermark threshold than reaching the CPU usage high watermark threshold. If this is the case you can set the weight lower for memory usage. Then, if one cluster unit reaches the CPU usage high watermark threshold and a second cluster unit reaches the memory usage high watermark threshold the cluster will load balance more sessions to the cluster unit with high memory usage and fewer sessions to the cluster unit with high CPU usage. As a result, reaching the CPU usage high watermark will have a greater affect on how sessions are redistributed than reaching the memory usage high watermark.

When a high watermark threshold is reached, the corresponding weight is subtracted from the static weight of the cluster unit. The lower the weight the fewer the number of sessions that are load balanced to that unit. Subsequently when the low watermark threshold is reached, the static weight of the cluster unit returns to its configured value. For the weights to all be effective the weights assigned to the load indicators should usually be lower than or equal to the static weights assigned to the cluster units.

 

Use the following command to set thresholds and weights for CPU and memory usage and HTTP, FTP, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, or NNTP proxy sessions:

config system ha set mode a-a

set schedule weight-round-robin

set cpu-threshold <weight> <low> <high>

set memory-threshold <weight> <low> <high>

set http-proxy-threshold <weight> <low> <high> set ftp-proxy-threshold <weight> <low> <high> set imap-proxy-threshold <weight> <low> <high> set nntp-proxy-threshold <weight> <low> <high> set pop3-proxy-threshold <weight> <low> <high> set smtp-proxy-threshold <weight> <low> <high>

end

For each option, the weight range is 0 to 255 and the default weight is 5. The low and high watermarks are a percent (0 to 100). The default low and high watermarks are 0 which means they are disabled. The default configuration when weighted load balancing is enabled looks like the following:

config system ha set mode a-a

set schedule weight-round-robin set cpu-threshold 5 0 0

set memory-threshold 5 0 0

set http-proxy-threshold 5 0 0 set ftp-proxy-threshold 5 0 0 set imap-proxy-threshold 5 0 0 set nntp-proxy-threshold 5 0 0 set pop3-proxy-threshold 5 0 0 set smtp-proxy-threshold 5 0 0

end

When you first enable HA weighted load balancing, the weighted load balancing con- figuration is synchronized to all cluster units and each cluster unit has the default con- figuration shown above. Changes to the CPU, memory, HTTP, FTP, IMAP, NNTP, POP3, and SMTP proxy thresholds and low and high watermarks must be made for each cluster unit and are not synchronized to the other cluster units.

When you configure them, the high watermarks must be greater than their corresponding low watermarks.

For CPU and memory usage the low and high watermarks are compared with the percentage CPU and memory use of the cluster unit. For each of the proxies the high and low watermarks are compared to a number that represents percent of the max number of proxy sessions being used by a proxy. This number is calculated using the formula:

proxy usage = (current sessions * 100) / max sessions where:

current sessions is the number of active sessions for the proxy type.

max sessions is the session limit for the proxy type. The session limit depends on the FortiGate unit and its configuration.

You can use the following command to display the maximum and current number of sessions for a proxy:

get test {ftpd | http | imap | nntp | pop3 | smtp} 4

 

You can use the following command to display the maximum number of sessions and the and current number of sessions for all of the proxies:

get test proxyworker 4

The command output includes lines similar to the following:

get test http 4

HTTP Common

Current Connections            5000/8032

In the example, 5000 is the current number of proxy connections being used by HTTP and 8032 is the maximum number of proxy sessions allowed. For this example the proxy usage would be:

proxy usage = (5000 * 100) / 8032 proxy usage = 62%

 

Example weighted load balancing configuration

Consider a cluster of three FortiGate units with host names FGT_ha_1, FGT_ha_2, and FGT_ha_3 as shown below. This example describes how to configure weighted load balancing settings for CPU and memory usage for the cluster and then to configure HTTP and POP3 proxy weights to send most HTTP and POP3 proxy sessions to different cluster units.

 

Example HA weighted load balancing configuration

Connect to the cluster CLI and use the following command to set the CPU usage threshold weight to 30, low watermark to 60, and high watermark to 80. This command also sets the memory usage threshold weight to 10, low watermark to 60, and high watermark to 90.

config system ha set mode a-a

set schedule weight-round-robin set cpu-threshold 30 60 80

set memory-threshold 10 60 90 end

The static weights for the cluster units remain at the default values of 40. Since this command changes the mode to a-a and the schedule to weight-round-robin for the first time, the weight settings are synchronized to all cluster units.

As a result of this configuration, if the CPU usage of any cluster unit (for example, FGT_ha_1) reaches 80% the static weight for that cluster unit is reduced from 40 to 10 and only 10 of every 120 new sessions are load balanced to this cluster unit. If the memory usage of FGT_ha_1 also reaches 90% the static weight further reduces to 0 and no new sessions are load balanced to FGT_ha_1. Also, if the memory usage of 620_ha_2 reaches 90% the static weight of FGT_ha_2 reduces to 30 and 30 of every 120 new sessions are load balanced to FGT_ha_2.

Now that you have established the weight load balancing configuration for the entire cluster you can monitor the cluster to verify that processing gets distributed evenly to all cluster units. From the web-based manager you can go do System > HA > View HA Statistics and see the CPU usage, active sessions, memory usage and other statistics for all of the cluster units. If you notice that one cluster unit is more or less busy than others you can adjust the dynamic weights separately for each cluster unit.

For example, in some active-active clusters the primary unit may tend to be busier than other cluster units because in addition to processing sessions the primary unit also receives all packets sent to the cluster and performs load balancing to distribute the sessions to other cluster units. To reduce the load on the primary unit you could reduce the CPU and memory usage high watermark thresholds for the primary unit so that fewer sessions are distributed to the primary unit. You could also reduce the primary unit’s high watermark setting for the proxies to distribute more proxy sessions to other cluster units.

This would only be useful if you are using device priorities and override settings to make sure the same unit always becomes the primary unit. See An introduction to the FGCP on page 1310.

If the example cluster is configured for FGT_ha_2 to be the primary unit, connect to the FGT_ha_2’s CLI and enter the following command to set CPU usage, memory usage, and proxy usage high watermark thresholds lower.

config system ha

set cpu-threshold 30 60 70

set memory-threshold 30 60 70

set http-proxy-threshold 30 60 70 set ftp-proxy-threshold 30 60 70 set imap-proxy-threshold 30 60 70 set nntp-proxy-threshold 30 60 70 set pop3-proxy-threshold 30 60 70 set smtp-proxy-threshold 30 60 70

end

As a result, when any of these factors reaches 70% on the primary unit, fewer sessions will be processed by the primary unit, preventing the number of sessions being processed from rising.


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