Veritas cluster concepts

VCS Basics

A single VCS cluster consists of multiple systems connected in various combinations to shared storage devices. VCS monitors and controls applications running in the cluster, and restarts applications in response to a variety of hardware or software faults. Client applications continue operation with little or no downtime. Client workstations receive service over the public network from applications running on the VCS systems. VCS monitors the systems and their services. VCS systems in the cluster communicate over a private network.
Switchover and Failover
A switchover is an orderly shutdown of an application and its supporting resources on one server and a controlled startup on another server.
A failover is similar to a switchover, except the ordered shutdown of applications on the original node may not be possible, so the services are started on another node. The process of starting the application on the node is identical in a failover or switchover.
Resources are hardware or software entities, such as disk groups and file systems, network interface cards (NIC), IP addresses, and applications. Controlling a resource means bringing it online (starting), taking it offline (stopping), and monitoring the resource.
Resource Dependencies:
Resource dependencies determine the order in which resources are brought online or taken offline when their associated service group is brought online or taken offline. In VCS terminology, resources are categorized as parents or children. Child resources must be online before parent resources can be brought online, and parent resources must be taken offline before child resources can be taken offline.
Resource Categories:
On-Off: VCS starts and stops On-Off resources as required. For example, VCS imports a disk group when required, and deports it when it is no longer needed.
On-Only: VCS starts On-Only resources, but does not stop them. For example, VCS requires NFS daemons to be running to export a file system. VCS starts the daemons if required, but does not stop them if the associated service group is taken offline.
Persistent: These resources cannot be brought online or taken offline. For example, a network interface card cannot be started or stopped, but it is required to configure an IP address. VCS monitors Persistent resources to ensure their status and operation. Failure of a Persistent resource triggers a service group failover.
Service Groups
A service group is a logical grouping of resources and resource dependencies. It is a management unit that controls resource sets. A single node may host any number of service groups, each providing a discrete service to networked clients. Each service group is monitored and managed independently. Independent management enables a group to be failed over automatically or manually idled for administration or maintenance without necessarily affecting other service groups. VCS monitors each resource in a service group and, when a failure is detected, restarts that service group. This could mean restarting it locally or moving it to another node and then restarting it.
Types of Service Groups:
Fail-over Service Groups
A failover service group runs on one system in the cluster at a time.
Parallel Service Groups
A parallel service group runs simultaneously on more than one system in the cluster.
Hybrid Service Groups
A hybrid service group is for replicated data clusters and is a combination of the two groups cited above. It behaves as a failover group within a system zone and a parallel group across system zones. It cannot fail over across system zones, and a switch operation on a hybrid group is allowed only if both systems are within the same system zone.
The ClusterService Group
The Cluster Service group is a special purpose service group, which contains resources required by VCS components. The group contains resources for Cluster Manager (Web Console), Notification, and the wide-area connector (WAC) process used in global clusters.
The ClusterService group can fail over to any node despite restrictions such as “frozen.” It is the first service group to come online and cannot be auto disabled. The group comes online on the first node that goes in the running state.
Agents are VCS processes that manage resources of predefined resource types according to commands received from the VCS engine, HAD. A system has one agent per resource type that monitors all resources of that type; for example, a single IP agent manages all IP resources.
When the agent is started, it obtains the necessary configuration information from VCS. It then periodically monitors the resources, and updates VCS with the resource status. VCS agents are multithreaded, meaning a single VCS agent monitors multiple resources of the same resource type on one host. VCS monitors resources when they are online and offline to ensure they are not started on systems on which they are not supposed to run. For this reason, VCS starts the agent for any resource configured to run on a system when the cluster is started. If no resources of a particular type are configured, the agent is not started.

Agent Operation:
Online—Brings a specific resource ONLINE from an OFFLINE state.
Offline—Takes a resource from an ONLINE state to an OFFLINE state.
Monitor—Tests the status of a resource to determine if the resource is online or offline.
Clean—Cleans up after a resource fails to come online, fails to go offline, or fails while in an ONLINE state.
Action—Performs actions that can be completed in a short time (typically, a few seconds), and which are outside the scope of traditional activities such as online and offline.
Info—Retrieves specific information for an online resource.
Multiple Systems
VCS runs in a replicated state on each system in the cluster. A private network enables the systems to share identical state information about all resources and to recognize which systems are active, which are joining or leaving the cluster, and which have failed. The private network requires two communication channels to guard against network partitions.
For the VCS private network, two types of channels are available for heartbeating: network connections and heartbeat regions on shared disks. The shared disk region heartbeat channel is used for heartbeating only, not for transmitting information as are network channels. Each cluster configuration requires at least two channels between systems, one of which must be a network connection. The remaining channels may be a combination of network connections and heartbeat regions on shared disks. This requirement for two channels protects your cluster against network partitioning. Also it’s recommended to have at least one heart beat disk region on each I/O shared between systems. E.g. two-system VCS cluster in which sysA and sysB have two private network connections and another connection via the heartbeat disk region on one of the shared disks. If one of the network connections fails, two channels remain. If both network connections fail, the condition is in jeopardy, but connectivity remains via the heartbeat disk.
Shared Storage
A VCS hardware configuration typically consists of multiple systems connected to share storage via I/O channels. Shared storage provides multiple systems an access path to the same data, and enables VCS to restart applications on alternate systems when a system fails.
Cluster Control, Communications, and Membership
Cluster communications ensure VCS is continuously aware of the status of each system’s service groups and resources.
High-Availability Daemon (HAD)
The high-availability daemon, or HAD, is the main VCS daemon running on each system. It is responsible for building the running cluster configuration from the configuration files, distributing the information when new nodes join the cluster, responding to operator input, and taking corrective action when something fails. It is typically known as the VCS engine. The engine uses agents to monitor and manage resources. Information about resource states is collected from the agents on the local system and forwarded to all cluster members. HAD operates as a replicated state machine (RSM). This means HAD running on each node has a completely synchronized view of the resource status on each node. The RSM is maintained through the use of a purpose-built communications package consisting of the protocols Low Latency Transport (LLT) and Group Membership Services/Atomic Broadcast (GAB).
Low Latency Transport (LLT)
VCS uses private network communications between cluster nodes for cluster maintenance. The Low Latency Transport functions as a high-performance, low-latency replacement for the IP stack, and is used for all cluster communications.
Traffic Distribution
LLT distributes (load balances) internode communication across all available private network links. This distribution means that all cluster communications are evenly distributed across all private network links (maximum eight) for performance and fault resilience. If a link fails, traffic is redirected to the remaining links.
LLT is responsible for sending and receiving heartbeat traffic over network links. This heartbeat is used by the Group Membership Services function of GAB to determine cluster membership.
The system administrator configures LLT by creating the configuration files /etc/llthosts, which lists all the systems in the cluster, and /etc/llttab, which describes the local system’s private network links to the other systems in the cluster.
Group Membership Services/Atomic Broadcast (GAB)
The Group Membership Services/Atomic Broadcast protocol (GAB) is responsible for cluster membership and cluster communications.
Cluster Membership
GAB maintains cluster membership by receiving input on the status of the heartbeat from each node via LLT. When a system no longer receives heartbeats from a peer, it marks the peer as DOWN and excludes the peer from the cluster.
Cluster Communications
GAB’s second function is reliable cluster communications. GAB provides guaranteed delivery of point-to-point and broadcast messages to all nodes.
The system administrator configures GAB driver by creating a configuration file (/etc/gabtab).
Cluster Topologies
Asymmetric or Active/Passive Configuration
An application runs on a primary, or master, server. A dedicated redundant server is present to take over on any failure. The redundant server is not configured to perform any other functions. This configuration is the simplest and most reliable. The redundant server is on stand-by with full performance capability.

Symmetric or Active/Active Configuration
In a symmetric configuration, each server is configured to run a specific application or service and provide redundancy for its peer. When a failure occurs, the surviving server hosts both application groups.
In the asymmetric example, the redundant server requires only as much processor power as its peer. On failover, performance remains the same. In the symmetric example, the redundant server requires not only enough processor power to run the existing application, but also enough to run the new application it takes over.

N-to-1 Configuration

An N-to-1 configuration is based on the concept that multiple, simultaneous server failures are unlikely; therefore, a single redundant server can protect multiple active servers. When a server fails, its applications move to the redundant server. In this configuration, a dedicated, redundant server is cabled to all storage and acts as a spare when a failure occurs.
The problem with this design is the issue of failback. When the original, failed server is repaired, all services normally hosted on the server must be failed back to free the spare server and restore redundancy to the cluster.

N + 1 Configuration
With the capabilities introduced by storage area networks (SANs), you can not only create larger clusters, but more importantly, can connect multiple servers to the same storage. A dedicated, redundant server is no longer required in the configuration. Instead of N-to-1 configurations, there is N+1. In advanced N+ 1 configuration, an extra server in the cluster is spare capacity only. When a server fails, the application service group restarts on the spare. After the server is repaired, it becomes the spare. This configuration eliminates the need for a second application failure to fail back the service group to the primary system. Any server can provide redundancy to any other server.

N-to-N Configuration
An N-to-N configuration refers to multiple service groups running on multiple servers, with each service group capable of being failed over to different servers in the cluster.
If any node fails, each instance is started on a different node, ensuring no single node becomes overloaded. This configuration is a logical evolution of N + 1: it provides cluster standby capacity instead of a standby server.

Storage Configurations
Basic Shared Storage Cluster
In this configuration, a single cluster shares access to a storage device, typically over a SAN. An application can only be started on a node with access to the required storage. For example, in a multi-node cluster, any node designated to run a specific database instance must have access to the storage. When a node or application fails, all data required to start on another node is stored on the shared disk.


Share Nothing Cluster:
There is no storage disk. All nodes maintain separate copies of data. They maintain separate copies of data. VCS shared nothing clusters typically have read-only data stored locally on both systems.
Replicated Data Cluster:
In a replicated data cluster there is no shared disk. Instead, a data replication product synchronizes copies of data between nodes. Replication can take place at the application, host, and storage levels. Regardless of which replication technology is used, the solution must provide data access that is identical to the shared disks. If the failover management software requires failover due to a node or storage failure, the takeover node must possess an identical copy of data. This typically implies synchronous replication. At the same time, when the original server or storage is repaired, it must return to standby capability.

Global Cluster
A global cluster links clusters at separate locations and enables wide-area failover and disaster recovery. In a global cluster, if an application or a system fails, the application is migrated to another system within the same cluster. If the entire cluster fails, the application is migrated to a system in another cluster.
Configuring VCS means conveying to the VCS engine the definitions of the cluster, service groups, resources, and resource dependencies. VCS uses two configuration files in a default configuration:
The file defines the entire cluster.
The file defines the resource types.
By default, both files reside in the directory /etc/VRTSvcs/conf/config. Additional files similar to may be present if agents have been added, such as
In a VCS cluster, the first system to be brought online reads the configuration file and creates an internal (in-memory) representation of the configuration. Systems brought online after the first system derive their information from systems running in the cluster. You must stop the cluster while you are modifying the files from the command line. Changes made by editing the configuration files take effect when the cluster is restarted. The node on which the changes were made should be the first node to be brought back online. File
Include Clauses
Include clauses incorporate additional configuration files into These additional files typically contain type definitions, including the file. Other type definitions must be included as required.
Cluster Definition
This section of defines the attributes of the cluster, including the cluster name and the names of the cluster users.
System Definition
Each system designated as part of the cluster is listed in this section of The names listed as system names must match the name returned by the command uname-a. System names are preceded with the keyword “system.” For any system to be used in a service group definition, it must be defined in this section.
Service Group Definition
Service group definitions in comprise the attributes of a particular service group.
Resource Definition
This section in defines each resource used in a particular service group
Service Group Dependency Clause
To configure a service group dependency, place the keyword “requires” in the service group declaration of the file. Position the dependency clause before the resource dependency specifications and after the resource declarations.
Resource Dependency Clause
A dependency between resources is indicated by the keyword “requires” between two resource names. This indicates the second resource (the child) must be online before the first resource (the parent) can be brought online. Conversely, the parent must be offline before the child can be taken offline. Also, faults of the children are propagated to the parent.
The following example is a basic two-node cluster exporting an NFS file system. The systems are configured as:
1. servers: Server1 and Server2
2. storage: One disk group managed using VERITAS Volume Manager, shared1
3. file system: /home  
4. IP address: IP_nfs1 public interface: hme0 Server1 is primary location to start the NFS_group1
In an NFS configuration, the resource dependencies must be configured to bring up the IP address last. This prevents the client from accessing the server until everything is ready, and preventing unnecessary “Stale File Handle” errors on the clients.
include “”
cluster demo (
UserNames = { admin = cDRpdxPmHpzS }
system Server1
system Server2
group NFS_group1 (
  SystemList = { Server1, Server2 }
  AutoStartList = { Server1 }
DiskGroup DG_shared1 (
    DiskGroup = shared1
IP IP_nfs1 (
    Device = hme0
    Address = “”
Mount Mount_home (
    MountPoint = “/export/home”
    BlockDevice = “/dev/vx/dsk/shared1/home_vol”
    FSType = vxfs
    FsckOpt = “-y”
    MountOpt = rw
NFS NFS_group1_16 (
    Nservers = 16
NIC NIC_group1_hme0 (
    Device = hme0
    NetworkType = ether
Share Share_home (
    PathName = “/export/home”
IP_nfs1 requires Share_home
IP_nfs1 requires NIC_group1_hme0
Mount_home requires DG_shared1
Share_home requires NFS_group1_16
Share_home requires Mount_home
The File
The file describes standard resource types to the VCS engine; specifically, the data required to control a specific resource.
The following example illustrates a DiskGroup resource type definition.
type DiskGroup (
    static int OnlineRetryLimit = 1
    static str ArgList[] = { DiskGroup, StartVolumes, StopVolumes,
    MonitorOnly, MonitorReservation, tempUseFence }
str DiskGroup
str StartVolumes = 1
str StopVolumes = 1
static int NumThreads = 1
boolean MonitorReservation = 0
temp str tempUseFence = “INVALID”
The types definition performs two important functions. First, it defines the type of values that may be set for each attribute.
The second critical piece of information provided by the type definition is the ArgList attribute. The line static str ArgList[] = { xxx, yyy, zzz } defines the order in which parameters are passed to the agents for starting, stopping, and monitoring resources.
VCS components are configured using attributes. Attributes contain data about the cluster, systems, service groups, resources, resource types, agent, and heartbeats if using global clusters. For example, the value of a service group’s SystemList attribute specifies on which systems the group is configured and the priority of each system within the group.
Introducing the VCS User Privilege Model
Cluster operations are enabled or restricted depending on the permissions with which you log on to VCS. Each category is assigned specific privileges, and some categories overlap; for example, Cluster Administrator includes privileges for Group Administrator, which includes privileges for Group Operator.

Cluster Administrator
Users in this category are assigned full privileges, including making configuration read-write, creating and deleting groups, setting group dependencies, adding and deleting systems, and adding, modifying, and deleting users. All group and resource operations are allowed. Users with Cluster Administrator privileges can also change other users’ privileges and passwords.
Users in this category can create and delete resource types and execute remote commands from the Manager (Java Console) via Cluster Shell. Cluster Administrators are allowed access to Cluster Shell if designated in the value of the attribute HaCliUserLevel.
Note Cluster Administrators can change their own and other users’ passwords only after changing the configuration to read/write mode.
Cluster Operator
In this category, all cluster-, group-, and resource-level operations are allowed, including modifying the user’s own password and bringing service groups online.
Note Users in this category can change their own passwords only if configuration is in read/write mode. Cluster Administrators can change the configuration to the read/write mode.
Users in this category cannot create service groups or execute remote commands via Cluster Shell. Additionally, users in this category can be assigned Group Administrator privileges for specific service groups.
Group Administrator
Users in this category can perform all service group operations on specific groups, such as bringing groups and resources online, taking them offline, and creating or deleting resources. Additionally, users can establish resource dependencies and freeze or unfreeze service groups. Note that users in this category cannot create or delete service groups.
Group Operator
Users in this category can bring service groups and resources online and take them offline. Users can also temporarily freeze or unfreeze service groups.
Cluster Guest
Users in this category have read-only access, meaning they can view the configuration, but cannot change it. They can modify their own passwords only if the configuration is in read/write mode.
Note By default, newly created users are assigned Cluster Guest permissions.
Review the following sample
Cluster vcs
UserNames = { sally = Y2hJtFnqctD76, tom = pJad09NWtXHlk,betty = kjheewoiueo, lou = T6jhjFYkie, don = gt3tgfdgttU,
intern = EG67egdsak }
Administrators = { tom }
Operators = { sally }
  Group finance_server (
     Administrators = { betty }
     Operators = { lou, don }
Group hr_application (
    Administrators = { sally }
    Operators = { lou, betty }
Group test_server (
     Administrators = { betty } 
     Operators = { intern, don }

The following concepts apply to users executing commands from the command line:
Users logged on as root (or administrator) are granted privileges that exceed those of Cluster Administrator, such as the ability to start and stop a cluster.
When non-root users execute haxxx commands, they are prompted for their VCS user name and password to authenticate themselves. Use the halogin command to save the authentication information so that you do not have to enter your credentials every time you run a VCS command.
User Privileges in Global Clusters
VCS enforces user privileges across clusters. A cross-cluster online or offline operation is permitted only if the user initiating the operation has one of the following privileges:
1. Group Administrator or Group Operator privileges for the group on the remote cluster
2. Cluster Administrator or Cluster Operator privileges on the remote cluster
A cross-cluster switch operation is permitted only if the user initiating the operation has the following privileges:
1. Group Administrator or Group Operator privileges for the group on both clusters
2.  Cluster Administrator or Cluster Operator privileges on both clusters

System States
The following table provides a list of VCS system states and their descriptions.
The running configuration was lost. A system transitions into this state for the following reasons:
 – The last system in the RUNNING configuration leaves the cluster before another system takes a snapshot of its configuration and transitions to the RUNNING state.
 – A system in LOCAL_BUILD state tries to build the configuration from disk and receives an unexpected error from hacf indicating the configuration is invalid.
The system has joined the cluster and its configuration file is valid. The system is waiting for information from other systems before it determines how to transition to another state.
The system has a valid configuration file and another system is doing a build from disk (LOCAL_BUILD). When its peer finishes the build, this system transitions to the state REMOTE_BUILD.
The system is leaving the cluster.
The system has left the cluster.
A hastop -force command has forced the system to leave the cluster.
The system has left the cluster unexpectedly.
The system has joined the cluster. This is the initial state for all systems.
The system is leaving the cluster gracefully. When the agents have been stopped, and when the current configuration is written to disk, the system transitions to EXITING.
The system is building the running configuration from the disk configuration.
The system is building a running configuration that it obtained from a peer in a RUNNING state.
The system has a stale configuration and there is no other system in the state of RUNNING from which to retrieve a configuration.  If a system with a valid configuration is started, that system enters the LOCAL_BUILD state.  Systems in STALE_ADMIN_WAIT transition to STALE_PEER_WAIT.
The system has joined the cluster with a stale configuration file. It is waiting for information from any of its peers before determining how to transition to another state.
The system has a stale configuration file and another system is doing a build from disk (LOCAL_BUILD). When its peer finishes the build, this system transitions to the state REMOTE_BUILD.
The system has not joined the cluster because it does not have a system entry in the configuration.

Thank you for reading this article.Please leave a comment if you have any doubt ,i will get back to you as soon as possible.



  1. Very Informative and detailed article. I have been looking for all above information and were not getting on a single article. I found your post very much usefull. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  2. Its very useful.All in one go.

    Could you please let me know how to find which node is currently holding the vcs membership.