HA and load balancing

HA and load balancing

FGCP active-active (a-a) load balancing distributes network traffic among all of the units in a cluster. Load balancing can improve cluster performance because the processing load is shared among multiple cluster units.

This chapter describes how active-active load balancing works and provides detailed active-active HA NAT/Route and Transparent mode packet flow descriptions.


Load balancing overview

FGCP active-active HA uses a technique similar to unicast load balancing in which the primary unit is associated with the cluster HA virtual MAC addresses and cluster IP addresses. The primary unit is the only cluster unit to receive packets sent to the cluster. The primary unit then uses a load balancing schedule to distribute sessions to all of the units in the cluster (including the primary unit). Subordinate unit interfaces retain their actual MAC addresses and the primary unit communicates with the subordinate units using these MAC addresses. Packets exiting the subordinate units proceed directly to their destination and do not pass through the primary unit first.

By default, active-active HA load balancing distributes proxy-based security profile processing to all cluster units. Proxy-based security profile processing is CPU and memory-intensive, so FGCP load balancing may result in higher throughput because resource-intensive processing is distributed among all cluster units.

Proxy-based security profile processing that is load balanced includes proxy-based virus scanning, proxy-based web filtering, proxy-based email filtering, and proxy-based data leak prevention (DLP) of HTTP, FTP, IMAP, IMAPS, POP3, POP3S, SMTP, SMTPS, IM, and NNTP, sessions accepted by security policies.

Other features enabled in security policies such as Endpoint security, traffic shaping and authentication have no effect on active-active load balancing.

You can also enable load-balance-all to have the primary unit load balance all TCP sessions. Load balancing TCP sessions increases overhead and may actually reduce performance so it is disabled by default. You can also enable load-balance-udp to have the primary unit load balance all UDP sessions. Load balancing UDP sessions also increases overhead so it is also disabled by default.

NP4 and NP6 processors can also offload and accelerate load balancing.

During active-active HA load balancing the primary unit uses the configured load balancing schedule to determine the cluster unit that will process a session. The primary unit stores the load balancing information for each load balanced session in the cluster load balancing session table. Using the information in this table, the primary unit can then forward all of the remaining packets in each session to the appropriate cluster unit. The load balancing session table is synchronized among all cluster units.

HTTPS, ICMP, multicast, and broadcast sessions are never load balanced and are always processed by the primary unit. IPS,Application Control, flow-based virus scanning, flow-based web filtering, flow-based DLP, flow- based email filtering, VoIP, IM, P2P, IPsec VPN, HTTPS, SSL VPN, HTTP multiplexing, SSL offloading, WAN optimization, explicit web proxy, and WCCP sessions are also always processed only by the primary unit.

In addition to load balancing, active-active HA also provides the same session, device and link failover protection as active-passive HA. If the primary unit fails, a subordinate unit becomes the primary unit and resumes operating the cluster.

Active-active HA also maintains as many load balanced sessions as possible after a failover by continuing to process the load balanced sessions that were being processed by the cluster units that are still operating. See Active-active HA subordinate units sessions can resume after a failover on page 1544 for more information.

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