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Session failover (session-pickup)

Session failover means that after the primary unit fails, communications sessions resume on the new primary unit with minimal or no interruption. Two categories of sessions need to be resumed after a failover:

  • Sessions passing through the cluster
  • Sessions terminated by the cluster

If you enable session failover (also called session-pickup) for the cluster, during cluster operation the primary unit informs the subordinate units of changes to the primary unit connection and state tables for sessions passing through the cluster, keeping the subordinate units up-to-date with the traffic currently being processed by the cluster.

After a failover the new primary unit recognizes open sessions that were being handled by the cluster. The sessions continue to be processed by the new primary unit and are handled according to their last known state.

note icon Session-pickup has some limitations. For example, session failover is not supported for sessions being scanned by proxy-based security profiles. Session failover is supported for sessions being scanned by flow-based security profiles; however, flow-based sessions that fail over are not inspected after they fail over. For more limitations, see Session failover limitations for sessions passing through the cluster.

Session terminated by the cluster include management sessions (such as HTTPS connections to the FortiGate GUI or SSH connections to the CLI as well as SNMP and logging and so on). Also included in this category are IPsec VPN, SSL VPN, sessions terminated by the cluster, explicit proxy, WAN Optimization and web caching. In general, whether or not session-pickup is enabled, these sessions do not failover and have to be restarted. There are some exceptions though, particularly for IPsec and SSL VPN. For more information, see Session failover limitations for sessions terminated by the cluster.