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HA and distributed clustering

The FGCP supports widely separated cluster units installed in different physical locations. Distributed clusters can have cluster units in different rooms in the same building, different buildings in the same location, or even different geographical sites such as different cities, countries or continents.

Just like any cluster, distributed clusters require heartbeat communication between cluster units. In a distributed cluster this heartbeat communication can take place over the Internet or over other transmission methods including satellite linkups.

Most Data Center Interconnect (DCI) or MPLS-based solutions that support layer 2 extensions between the remote data centers should also support HA heartbeat communication between the FortiGates in the distributed locations. Using VLANs and switches in promiscuous mode to pass all traffic between the locations can also be helpful.

HA heartbeat IP addresses are not configurable so the heartbeat interfaces have to be able to communication over the same subnet. See HA heartbeat interface IP addresses.

Because of the possible distance it may take a relatively long time for heartbeat packets to be transmitted between cluster units. This could lead to a split brain scenario. To avoid a split brain scenario you can increase the heartbeat interval so that the cluster expects extra time between heartbeat packets. A general rule is to configure the failover time to be longer than the max latency. You could also increase the hb-lost-threshold to tolerate losing heartbeat packets if the network connection is less reliable.

In addition you could use different link paths for heartbeat packets to optimize HA heartbeat communication. You could also configure QoS on the links used for HA heartbeat traffic to make sure heartbeat communication has the highest priority.

For information about changing the heartbeat interval and other heartbeat related settings, see Modifying heartbeat timing.