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Arbitration For Data Integrity in Serviceguard Clusters:

Chapter 1 Arbitration for Data Integrity in Serviceguard Clusters


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Clustering is an architecture of interconnected servers that allows multiple hosts to run the same applications, permitting the individual systems to be up or down. Applications move easily between systems, accessing the same shared data from different nodes at different times. The goal is to provide high availability for the application and the data without endangering the integrity of the data. Particularly, the cluster manager software must ensure that when an application is running and processing data on one node in the cluster, the same application does not inappropriately start up on another node and begin processing the same data at the same time. Cluster software must protect data integrity at all costs.

Different clustering solutions have adopted various methods for ensuring the safety of data. Some solutions rely solely on redundant membership links to ensure data integrity. Others, including the Serviceguard product family, use a process called arbitration to keep more than one incarnation of a cluster from running and starting up a new instance of an application. The Serviceguard team has always agreed that definitive arbitration should be used in high availability systems that run mission-critical applications.

This paper describes some basic cluster membership concepts, then discusses some different ways of determining cluster membership. Several types of arbitration are shown with example configurations that illustrate each type. Then the arbitration methods used by Serviceguard and related products are presented in some detail.

NOTE: Some of the arbitration methods mentioned in this paper are available only on particular platforms or with specific types of configuration. Other methods, while possible, have not been fully tested on all types of systems. For details about support of particular kinds of arbitration, refer to your platform’s Configuration Guide, available through your HP representative.
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