Sun Cluster 3.1 Data Services Developer's Guide

Writing and Testing Data Services

This section provides some information about writing and testing data services.

Using Keep-Alives

On the server side, using TCP keep-alives protects the server from wasting system resources for a down (or network-partitioned) client. If these resources are not cleaned up (in a server that stays up long enough), eventually the wasted resources grow without bound as clients crash and reboot.

If the client-server communication uses a TCP stream, then both the client and the server should enable the TCP keep-alive mechanism. This provision applies even in the non-HA, single-server case.

Other connection-oriented protocols might also have a keep-alive mechanism.

On the client side, using TCP keep-alives enables the client to be notified when a network address resource has failed over or switched over from one physical host to another. That transfer of the network address resource breaks the TCP connection. However, unless the client has enabled the keep-alive, it does not necessarily learn of the connection break if the connection happens to be quiescent at the time.

For example, suppose the client is waiting for a response from the server to a long-running request, and the client's request message has already arrived at the server and has been acknowledged at the TCP layer. In this situation, the client's TCP module has no need to keep retransmitting the request, and the client application is blocked, waiting for a response to the request.

Where possible, in addition to using the TCP keep-alive mechanism, the client application also must perform its own periodic keep-alive at its level, because the TCP keep-alive mechanism is not perfect in all possible boundary cases. Using an application-level keep-alive typically requires that the client-server protocol supports a null operation or at least an efficient read-only operation such as a status operation.

Testing HA Data Services

This section provides suggestions about how to test a data service implementation in the HA environment. The test cases are suggestions and are not exhaustive. You need access to a test-bed Sun Cluster configuration so the testing work does not impact production machines.

Test that your HA data service behaves properly in all cases where a resource group is moved between physical hosts. These cases include system crashes and the use of the scswitch command. Test that client machines continue to get service after these events.

Test the idempotency of the methods. For example, replace each method temporarily with a short shell script that calls the original method two or more times.

Coordinating Dependencies Between Resources

Sometimes one client-server data service makes requests on another client-server data service while fulfilling a request for a client. Informally, a data service A depends on a data service B if, for A to provide its service, B must provide its service. Sun Cluster provides for this requirement by permitting resource dependencies to be configured within a resource group. The dependencies affect the order in which Sun Cluster starts and stops data services. See the scrgadm(1M) man page for details.

If resources of your resource type depend on resources of another type, you need to instruct the user to configure the resources and resource groups appropriately, or provide scripts or tools to correctly configure them. If the dependent resource must run on the same node as the depended-on resource, then both resources must be configured in the same resource group.

Decide whether to use explicit resource dependencies, or to omit them and poll for the availability of the other data service(s) in your HA data service's own code. In the case that the dependent and depended-on resource can run on different nodes, configure them into separate resource groups. In this case, polling is required because it is not possible to configure resource dependencies across groups.

Some data services store no data directly themselves, but instead depend on another back-end data service to store all their data. Such a data service translates all read and update requests into calls on the back-end data service. For example, consider a hypothetical client-server appointment calendar service that keeps all of its data in an SQL database such as Oracle. The appointment calendar service has its own client-server network protocol. For example, it might have defined its protocol using an RPC specification language, such as ONC™ RPC.

In the Sun Cluster environment, you can use HA-ORACLE to make the back-end Oracle database highly available. Then you can write simple methods for starting and stopping the appointment calendar daemon. Your end user registers the appointment calendar resource type with Sun Cluster.

If the appointment calendar application must run on the same node as the Oracle database, then the end user configures the appointment calendar resource in the same resource group as the HA-ORACLE resource, and makes the appointment calendar resource dependent on the HA-ORACLE resource. This dependency is specified using the Resource_dependencies property tag in scrgadm.

If the HA-ORACLE resource is able to run on a different node than the appointment calendar resource, the end user configures them into two separate resource groups. The end user might configure a resource group dependency of the calendar resource group on the Oracle resource group. However resource group dependencies are only effective when both resource groups are being started or stopped on the same node at the same time. Therefore, the calendar data service daemon, after it has been started, might poll waiting for the Oracle database to become available. The calendar resource type's Start method usually would just return success in this case, because if the Start method blocked indefinitely it would put its resource group into a busy state, which would prevent any further state changes (such as edits, failovers, or switchovers) on the group. However, if the calendar resource's Start method timed-out or exited non-zero, it might cause the resource group to ping-pong between two or more nodes while the Oracle database remained unavailable.