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> Chapter 13 - High Availability > An introduction to the FGCP

An introduction to the FGCP

A FortiGate HA cluster consists of two to four FortiGate units configured for HA operation. Each FortiGate unit in a cluster is called a cluster unit. All cluster units must be the same FortiGate model with the same FortiOS firmware build installed. All cluster units must also have the same hardware configuration (for example, the same AMC modules installed in the same slots, the same number of hard disks and so on) and be running in the same operating mode (NAT/Route mode or Transparent mode).

You can create an FGCP cluster of up to four FortiGate units.

In addition the cluster units must be able to communicate with each other through their heartbeat interfaces. This heartbeat communication is required for the cluster to be created and to continue operating. Without it, the cluster acts like a collection of standalone FortiGate units.

On startup, after configuring the cluster units with the same HA configuration and connecting their heartbeat interfaces, the cluster units use the FortiGate Clustering Protocol (FGCP) to find other FortiGate units configured for HA operation and to negotiate to create a cluster. During cluster operation, the FGCP shares communication and synchronization information among the cluster units over the heartbeat interface link. This communication and synchronization is called the FGCP heartbeat or the HA heartbeat. Often, this is shortened to just heartbeat.

The cluster uses the FGCP to select the primary unit, and to provide device, link and session failover. The FGCP also manages the two HA modes; active-passive (failover HA) and active-active (load balancing HA).