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> Chapter 15 - High Availability > Solving the High Availability problem > Content clustering

Content clustering

A content cluster employs FortiSwitch-5203Bs or FortiController-5902Ds to load balance content sessions to FortiGate-5000 workers. FortiSwitch-5203B content clusters consist of one or more FortiSwitch-5203Bs and multiple FortiGate-5001Bs workers. FortiController-5902D content clusters consist of one or more FortiController-5902Ds and multiple FortiGate-5001B workers.

Operating as a FortiGate in content cluster mode, a primary FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D performs routing, firewalling, stateful inspection, IPsec and SSL VPN encryption/decryption, and other FortiGate functions. The FortiSwitch-5203B includes NP4 processors and the FortiController-5902Ds includes NP6 processors and an integrated switch fabrics that provides fastpath acceleration by offloading communication sessions from the FortiGate CPU.

Using content cluster weighted load balancing, the FortiSwitch-5203Bs or FortiController-5902Ds distribute sessions that require content processing to the workers over the FortiGate-5000 chassis fabric backplane. Content processing sessions include proxy and flow-based security profile functions such as virus scanning, intrusion protection, application control, IPS, web filtering, email filtering, and VoIP. Lload balancing is offloaded to the NP4 or NP6 processors resulting in improved load balancing performance. In some networks, the NP4 or NP6 processors also allow you to configure the efficiently load balance TCP and UDP sessions.

Content cluster mode is similar to active-active HA where the FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D operates as the primary unit and load balances security profile sessions to the workers installed in the chassis using weighted load balancing. In this configuration, the HA mode is active-active, the HA load balancing schedule is weight-round-robin and load-balance-all is disabled. You can adjust the HA weighted load balancing weights to change how sessions are load balanced.

You can add a second FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D to a content cluster as a backup. The primary FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D can load balance sessions to the backup FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D as well as the workers. You can control how many sessions are processed by the backup FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D by configuring the HA load balancing weights. You can also configure the content cluster to operate the backup FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D in standby mode. In this mode the backup FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D does not process any sessions but is just there to take over content clustering if the primary unit fails.

Once the content cluster has been established and all FortiControllers and workers have joined the cluster, you can configure the cluster from the FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D GUI or CLI. All configuration changes made to the primary unit are automatically synchronized to all cluster units.

FortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D firmware upgrades are done from the primaryFortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D GUI or CLI. Worker firmware upgrades are done from theFortiSwitch-5203B or FortiController-5902D CLI where a single firmware image is uploaded once and synchronized to all of the workers.