Oracle® Solaris Cluster Concepts Guide

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Updated: July 2014, E39575-01

Quorum and Quorum Devices

Note - For a list of the specific devices that Oracle Solaris Cluster software supports as quorum devices, contact your Oracle service provider.

Because cluster nodes share data and resources, a cluster must never split into separate partitions that are active at the same time because multiple active partitions might cause data corruption. The Cluster Membership Monitor (CMM) and quorum algorithm guarantee that, at most, one instance of the same cluster is operational at any time, even if the cluster interconnect is partitioned.

For more information on the CMM, see Cluster Membership Monitor.

    Two types of problems arise from cluster partitions:

  • Split brain

  • Amnesia

Split brain occurs when the cluster interconnect between nodes is lost and the cluster becomes partitioned into subclusters. Each partition “believes” that it is the only partition because the nodes in one partition cannot communicate with the node or nodes in the other partition.

Amnesia occurs when the cluster restarts after a shutdown with cluster configuration data that is older than the data was at the time of the shutdown. This problem can occur when you start the cluster on a node that was not in the last functioning cluster partition.

    Oracle Solaris Cluster software avoids split brain and amnesia by:

  • Assigning each node one vote

  • Mandating a majority of votes for an operational cluster

A partition with the majority of votes gains quorum and is allowed to operate. This majority vote mechanism prevents split brain and amnesia when more than two nodes are configured in a cluster. However, counting node votes alone is sufficient when more than two nodes are configured in a cluster. In a two-node cluster, a majority is two. If such a two-node cluster becomes partitioned, an external vote is needed for either partition to gain quorum. This external vote is provided by a quorum device.

A quorum device is a shared storage device or quorum server that is shared by two or more nodes and that contributes votes that are used to establish a quorum. The cluster can operate only when a quorum of votes is available. The quorum device is used when a cluster becomes partitioned into separate sets of nodes to establish which set of nodes constitutes the new cluster.

Oracle Solaris Cluster software supports the monitoring of quorum devices. Periodically, each node in the cluster tests the ability of the local node to work correctly with each configured quorum device that has a configured path to the local node and is not in maintenance mode. This test consists of an attempt to read the quorum keys on the quorum device.

When the Oracle Solaris Cluster system discovers that a formerly healthy quorum device has failed, the system automatically marks the quorum device as unhealthy. When the Oracle Solaris Cluster system discovers that a formerly unhealthy quorum device is now healthy, the system marks the quorum device as healthy and places the appropriate quorum information on the quorum device.

The Oracle Solaris Cluster system generates reports when the health status of a quorum device changes. When nodes reconfigure, an unhealthy quorum device cannot contribute votes to membership. Consequently, the cluster might not continue to operate.