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Full mesh HA overview

When two or more FortiGates are connected to a network in an HA cluster the reliability of the network is improved because the HA cluster replaces a single FortiGate as a single point of failure. With a cluster, a single FortiGate is replaced by a cluster of two or more FortiGates.

However, even with a cluster, potential single points of failure remain. The interfaces of each cluster unit connect to a single switch and that switch provides a single connection to the network. If the switch fails or if the connection between the switch and the network fails service is interrupted to that network.

The HA cluster does improve the reliability of the network because switches are not as complex components as FortiGates, so are less likely to fail. However, for even greater reliability, a configuration is required that includes redundant connections between the cluster the networks that it is connected to.

FortiGate models that support 802.3ad Aggregate or Redundant interfaces can be used to create a cluster configuration called full mesh HA. Full mesh HA is a method of reducing the number of single points of failure on a network that includes an HA cluster.

This redundant configuration can be achieved using FortiGate 802.3ad Aggregate or Redundant interfaces and a full mesh HA configuration. In a full mesh HA configuration, you connect an HA cluster consisting of two or more FortiGates to the network using 802.3ad Aggregate or Redundant interfaces and redundant switches. Each 802.3ad Aggregate or Redundant interface is connected to two switches and both of these switches are connected to the network. In addition you must set up an IEEE 802.1Q (also called Dot1Q) or ISL link between the redundant switches connected to the Aggregate or Redundant interfaces.

The resulting full mesh configuration, an example is shown below, includes redundant connections between all network components. If any single component or any single connection fails, traffic automatically switches to the redundant component and connection and traffic flow resumes.

Single points of failure in a standalone and HA network configuration

Full mesh HA and redundant heartbeat interfaces

A full mesh HA configuration also includes redundant HA heartbeat interfaces. At least two heartbeat interfaces should be selected in the HA configuration and both sets of HA heartbeat interfaces should be connected. The HA heartbeat interfaces do not have to be configured as redundant interfaces because the FGCP handles failover between heartbeat interfaces.

Full mesh HA, redundant interfaces and 802.3ad aggregate interfaces

Full mesh HA is supported for both redundant interfaces and 802.3ad aggregate interfaces. In most cases you would simply use redundant interfaces. However, if your switches support 802.3ad aggregate interfaces and split multi-trunking you can use aggregate interfaces in place of redundant interfaces for full mesh HA. One advantage of using aggregate interfaces is that all of the physical interfaces in the aggregate interface can send and receive packets. As a result, using aggregate interfaces may increase the bandwidth capacity of the cluster.

Usually redundant and aggregate interfaces consist of two physical interfaces. However, you can add more than two physical interfaces to a redundant or aggregate interface. Adding more interfaces can increase redundancy protection. Adding more interfaces can also increase bandwidth capacity if you are using 802.3ad aggregate interfaces.