14.2. Using Linux HA Heartbeat

The Heartbeat program provides a basis for verifying the availability of resources on one or more systems within a cluster. In this context a resource includes MySQL, the file systems on which the MySQL data is being stored and, if you are using DRBD, the DRBD device being used for the file system. Heartbeat also manages a virtual IP address, and the virtual IP address should be used for all communication to the MySQL instance.

A cluster within the context of Heartbeat is defined as two computers notionally providing the same service. By definition, each computer in the cluster is physically capable of providing the same services as all the others in the cluster. However, because the cluster is designed for high-availability, only one of the servers is actively providing the service at any one time. Each additional server within the cluster is a “hot-spare” that can be brought into service in the event of a failure of the master, its next connectivity or the connectivity of the network in general.

The basics of Heartbeat are very simple. Within the Heartbeat cluster (see Figure 14.3, “Heartbeat Architecture”, each machine sends a 'heartbeat' signal to the other hosts in the cluster. The other cluster nodes monitor this heartbeat. The heartbeat can be transmitted over many different systems, including shared network devices, dedicated network interfaces and serial connections. Failure to get a heartbeat from a node is treated as failure of the node. Although we do not know the reason for the failure (it could be an OS failure, a hardware failure in the server, or a failure in the network switch), it is safe to assume that if no heartbeat is produced there is a fault.

Figure 14.3. Heartbeat Architecture

Heartbeat Architecture

In addition to checking the heartbeat from the server, the system can also check the connectivity (using ping) to another host on the network, such as the network router. This enables Heartbeat to detect a failure of communication between a server and the router (and therefore failure of the server, since it is no longer capable of providing the necessary service), even if the heartbeat between the servers in the clusters is working fine.

In the event of a failure, the resources on the failed host are disabled, and the resources on one of the replacement hosts is enabled instead. In addition, the Virtual IP address for the cluster is redirected to the new host in place of the failed device.

When used with MySQL and DRBD, the MySQL data is replicated from the master to the slave using the DRBD device, but MySQL is only running on the master. When the master fails, the slave switches the DRBD devices to be primary, the file systems on those devices are mounted, and MySQL is started. The original master (if still available) has its resources disabled, which means shutting down MySQL and unmounting the file systems and switching the DRBD device to secondary.

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