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Disabling Reservations

While reservations provide the highest level of data protection for shared storage, in some cases, the use of reservations is not available and must be disabled within LifeKeeper. With reservations disabled, the storage no longer acts as an arbitrator in cases where multiple systems attempt to access the storage, intentionally or unintentionally.

Consideration should be given to the use of other methods to fence the storage through cluster membership which is needed to handle system hangs, system busy situations and any situation where a server can appear to not be alive.

The key to a reliable configuration without reservations is to “know” that when a failover occurs, the “other” server has been powered off or power cycled. There are four fencing options that help accomplish this, allowing LifeKeeper to provide a very reliable configuration, even without SCSI reservations. These include the following: 

While none of these alternative fencing methods alone are likely to be adequate, when used in combination, a very reliable configuration can be obtained.

Non-Shared Storage

If planning to use LifeKeeper in a non-shared storage environment, the risk of data corruption that exists with shared storage is not an issue; therefore, reservations are not necessary. However, partial or full resyncs and merging of data may be required. To optimize reliability and availability, the above options should be considered with non-shared storage as well.

Note: For further information comparing the reliability and availability of the different options, see the I/O Fencing Comparison Chart.

It is important to note that no option will provide complete data protection, but the following combination will provide almost the same level of protection as reservations.

Configuring I/O Fencing Without Reservations

To configure a cluster to support node fencing, complete the following steps:

  1. Stop LifeKeeper.

  2. Disable the use of SCSI reservations within LifeKeeper. This is accomplished by editing the LifeKeeper defaults file, /etc/default/LifeKeeper, on all nodes in the cluster. Add or modify the Reservations variable to be “none”, e.g. RESERVATIONS=”none”. (Note that this option should only be used when reservations are not available.)

  3. Obtain and configure a STONITH device or devices to provide I/O fencing. Note that for this configuration, STONITH devices should be configured to do a system “poweroff” command rather than a “reboot”. Take care to avoid bringing a device hierarchy in service on both nodes simultaneously via a manual operation when LifeKeeper communications have been disrupted for some reason.

  4. If desired, obtain and configure a quorum/witness server(s). For complete instructions and information on configuring and using a witness server, see Quorum/Witness Server Support Package topic.

Note: The quorum/witness server should reside at a site apart from the other servers in the cluster to provide the greatest degree of protection in the event of a site failure.

  1. If desired, configure watchdog. For more information, see the Watchdog topic.


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