For inter-OX-communication over the network, multiple Open-Xchange servers can form a cluster. This brings different advantages regarding distribution and caching of volatile data, load balancing, scalability, fail-safety and robustness. Additionally, it provides the infrastructure for upcoming features of the Open-Xchange server. The clustering capabilities of the Open-Xchange server are mainly built up on Hazelcast, an open source clustering and highly scalable data distribution platform for Java. The following article provides an overview about the current featureset and configuration options.
It is crucial that all involved members in a cluster do have their system clock times in sync with each other; e.g. by using an NTP service.
An OX cluster is always part of a larger picture. Usually there is front level loadbalancer as central HTTPS entry point to the platform. This loadbalancer optionally performs HTTPS termination and forwards HTTP(S) requests to webservers (the usual and only supported choice as of now is Apache). These webservers are performing HTTPS termination (if this is not happening on the loadbalancer) and serve static content, and (which is what is relevant for our discussion here) they forward dynamic requests to the OX backends.
A central requirement for the interaction of these components (loadbalancer, webservers, OX nodes) is that we have session stability based on the JSESSIONID cookie / jsessionid path component suffix. This means that our application sets a cookie named JSESSIONID which has a value like <large decimal number>.<route identifier>, e.g. "5661584529655240315.OX1". The route identifier here ("OX1" in this example) is taken by the OX node from a configuration setting from a config file and is specific to one OX node. HTTP routing must happen such that HTTP requests with a cookie with such a suffix always end up the corresponding OX node. There are furthermore specific cirumstances when passing this information via cookie is not possible. Then the JSESSIONID is transferred in a path component as "jsessionid=..." in the HTTP request. The routing mechanism needs to take that into account also.
There are mainly two options to implement this. If the Apache processes are running co-located on the same machines running the OX groupware processes, it is often desired to have the front level loadbalancer perform HTTP routing to the correct machines. If dedicated Apache nodes are employed, is is usually sufficient to have the front-level loadbalancer do HTTP routing to the Apache nodes in a round-robin fashion and perform routing to the correct OX nodes in the Apache nodes.
We provide sample configuration files to configure Apache (with mod_proxy_http) to perform HTTP routing correctly in our guides on OXpedia, e.g. AppSuite:Main_Page_AppSuite#quickinstall. Central elements are the directives "ProxySet stickysession=JSESSIONID|jsessionid scolonpathdelim=On" in conjunction with the "route=OX1" parameters to the BalancerMember lines in the Proxy definition. This is valid for Apache 2.2 as of Sep-2014.
How to configure a front level loadbalancer to perform HTTP equivalent HTTP routing is dependent on the specific loadbalancer implementation. If Apache is used as front level loadbalancer, the same configuration as discussed in the previous section can be employed. As of time of writing this text (Sep 2014), the alternative choices are thin. F5 BigIP is reported to be able to implement "jsessionid based persistence using iRules". nginx has the functionality in their commercial "nginx plus" product. (Both of these options have not been tested by OX.) Other loadbalancers with this functionality are not known to us.
If the front level loadbalancer is not capable of performing correct HTTP routing, is is required to configure correct HTTP routing on Apache level, even if Apache runs co-located on the OX nodes and thus cross-routing happens.
There are several reasons why we require session stability in exactly this way. We require session stabilty for horizontal scale-out; while we support transparent resuming / migration of user sessions in the OX cluster without need for users to re-authenticate, sessions wandering around randomly will consume a fixed amount resources corresponding to a running session on each OX node in the cluster, while a session sticky to one OX node will consume this fixed amount of resources only on one OX node. Furthermore there are mechanisms in OX like TokenLogin which work only of all requests beloning to one sequence get routed to the same OX node even if they stem from different machines with different IPs. Only the JSESSIONID (which in this case is transferred as jsessionid path component, as cookies do not work during a 302 redirect, which is part of this sequence) carries the required information where the request must be routed to.
Usual "routing based on cookie hash" is not sufficient here since it disregards the information which machine originally issued the cookie. It only ensures that the session will be sticky to any target, which statistically will not be the same machine that issued the cookie. OX will then set a new JSESSIONID cookie, assuming the session had been migrated. The loadbalancer will then route the session to a different target, as the hash of the cookie will differ. This procedure then happens iteratively until by chance the routing based on cookie hash will route the session to the correct target. By then, a lot of resources will have been wasted, by creating full (short-term) sessions on all OX nodes. Furthermore, processes like TokenLogin will not work this way.
All settings regarding cluster setup are located in the configuration file hazelcast.properties. The former used additional files cluster.properties, mdns.properties and static-cluster-discovery.properties are no longer needed. The following gives an overview about the most important settings - please refer to the inline documentation of the configuration file for more advanced options.
Note: The configuration guide targets v7.4.0 of the OX server (and above). For older versions, please consult the history of this page.
To restrict access to the cluster and to separate the cluster from others in the local network, a name and password needs to be defined. Only backend nodes having the same values for those properties are able to join and form a cluster.
# Configures the name of the cluster. Only nodes using the same group name # will join each other and form the cluster. Required if # "com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join" is not "empty" (see below). com.openexchange.hazelcast.group.name= # The password used when joining the cluster. Defaults to "wtV6$VQk8#+3ds!a". # Please change this value, and ensure it's equal on all nodes in the cluster. com.openexchange.hazelcast.group.password=wtV6$VQk8#+3ds!a
It's required to define the network interface that is used for cluster communication via com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.interfaces. By default, the interface is restricted to the local loopback address only. To allow the same configuration amongst all nodes in the cluster, it's recommended to define the value using a wildcard matching the IP addresses of all nodes participating in the cluster, e.g. 192.168.0.*
# Comma-separated list of interface addresses hazelcast should use. Wildcards # (*) and ranges (-) can be used. Leave blank to listen on all interfaces # Especially in server environments with multiple network interfaces, it's # recommended to specify the IP-address of the network interface to bind to # explicitly. Defaults to "127.0.0.1" (local loopback only), needs to be # adjusted when building a cluster of multiple backend nodes. com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.interfaces=127.0.0.1
To form a cluster of multiple OX server nodes, different discovery mechanisms can be used. The discovery mechanism is specified via the property com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join:
# Specifies which mechanism is used to discover other backend nodes in the # cluster. Possible values are "empty" (no discovery for single-node setups), # "static" (fixed set of cluster member nodes) or "multicast" (automatic # discovery of other nodes via multicast). Defaults to "empty". Depending on # the specified value, further configuration might be needed, see "Networking" # section below. com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join=empty
Generally, it's advised to use the same network join mechanism for all nodes in the cluster, and, in most cases, it's strongly recommended to use a static network join configuration. This will allow the nodes to join the cluster directly upon startup. With a multicast based setup, nodes will merge to an existing cluster possibly at some later time, thus not being able to access the distributed data until they've joined.
Depending on the network join setting, further configuration may be necessary, as decribed in the following paragraphs.
When using the default value empty, no other nodes are discovered in the cluster. This value is suitable for single-node installations. Note that other nodes that are configured to use other network join mechanisms may be still able to still to connect to this node, e.g. using a static network join, having the IP address of this host in the list of potential cluster members (see below).
The most common setting for com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join is static. A static cluster discovery uses a fixed list of IP addresses of the nodes in the cluster. During startup and after a specific interval, the underlying Hazelcast library probes for not yet joined nodes from this list and adds them to the cluster automatically. The address list is configured via com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join.static.nodes:
# Configures a comma-separated list of IP addresses / hostnames of possible # nodes in the cluster, e.g. "10.20.30.12, 10.20.30.13:5701, 18.104.22.168". # Only used if "com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join" is set to "static". # It doesn't hurt if the address of the local host appears in the list, so # that it's still possible to use the same list throughout all nodes in the # cluster. com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join.static.nodes=
For a fixed set of backend nodes, it's recommended to simply include the IP addresses of all nodes in the list, and use the same configuration for each node. However, it's only required to add the address of at least one other node in the cluster to allow the node to join the cluster. Also, when adding a new node to the cluster and this list is extended accordingly, existing nodes don't need to be shut down to recognize the new node, as long as the new node's address list contains at least one of the already running nodes.
For highly dynamic setups where nodes are added and removed from the cluster quite often and/or the host's IP addresses are not fixed, it's also possible to configure the network join via multicast. During startup and after a specific interval, the backend nodes initiate the multicast join process automatically, and discovered nodes form or join the cluster afterwards. The multicast group and port can be configured as follows:
# Configures the multicast address used to discover other nodes in the cluster # dynamically. Only used if "com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join" is set # to "multicast". If the nodes reside in different subnets, please ensure that # multicast is enabled between the subnets. Defaults to "22.214.171.124". com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join.multicast.group=126.96.36.199 # Configures the multicast port used to discover other nodes in the cluster # dynamically. Only used if "com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join" is set # to "multicast". Defaults to "54327". com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join.multicast.port=54327
The following example shows how a simple cluster named MyCluster consisting of 4 backend nodes can be configured using static cluster discovery. The node's IP addresses are 10.0.0.15, 10.0.0.16, 10.0.0.17 and 10.0.0.18. Note that the same hazelcast.properties is used by all nodes.
com.openexchange.hazelcast.group.name=MyCluster com.openexchange.hazelcast.group.password=secret com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join=static com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.join.static.nodes=10.0.0.15,10.0.0.16,10.0.0.17,10.0.0.18 com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.interfaces=10.0.0.*
While originally being desgined to separate the nodes holding distributed data into different risk groups for increased fail safety, a custom partioning strategy may also be used to distinguish between nodes holding distributed data from those who should not.
This approach of custom partitioning may be used in a OX cluster, where usually different backend nodes serve different purposes. A common scenario is that there are nodes handling requests from the web interfaces, and others being responsible for USM/EAS traffic. Due to their nature of processing large chunks of synchronization data in memory, the USM/EAS nodes may encounter small delays when the Java garbage collector kicks in and suspends the Java Virtual Machine. Since those delays may also have an influence on hazelcast-based communication in the cluster, the idea is to instruct hazelcast to not store distributed data on that nodes. This is where a custom partitioning scheme comes into play.
To setup a custom paritioning scheme in the cluster, an additional hazelcast.xml configuration file is used, which should be placed into the hazelcast subdirectory of the OX configuration folder, usually at /opt/openexchange/etc/hazelcast. Please note that it's vital that each node in the cluster is configured equally here, so the same hazelcast.xml file should be copied to each server. The configuration read from there is used as basis for all further settings that are taken from the ordinary hazelcast.properties config file.
To setup a custom paritioning scheme, the partition groups must be defined in the hazelcast.xml file. See the following file for an example configuration, where the three nodes 10.10.10.60, 10.10.10.61 and 10.10.10.62 are defined to form an own paritioning group each. Doing so, all distributed data will be stored at one of those nodes physically, while the corresponding backup data (if configured) at one of the other two nodes. All other nodes in the cluster will not be used to store distributed data, but will still be "full" hazelcast members, which is necessary for other cluster-wide operations the OX backends use.
Please note that the configured backup count in the map configurations should be smaller than the number of nodes here, otherwise, there may be problems if one of those data nodes is shut down temporarily for maintenance. So, the minimum number of nodes to define in the partition group sections is implicitly bound to the sum of a map's backupCount and asyncBackupCount properties, plus 1 for the original data partition.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <hazelcast xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.hazelcast.com/schema/config hazelcast-config-3.1.xsd" xmlns="http://www.hazelcast.com/schema/config" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> <partition-group enabled="true" group-type="CUSTOM"> <member-group> <interface>10.10.10.60</interface> </member-group> <member-group> <interface>10.10.10.61</interface> </member-group> <member-group> <interface>10.10.10.62</interface> </member-group> </partition-group> </hazelcast>
More general information regarding custom partioning is available at http://hazelcast.org/docs/latest/manual/html/partitiongroupconfig.html .
It's also recommended to use a "static" cluster discovery for the network join, and list same the nodes that are also configured in the parition groups here, so that join requests are handled by those nodes, too (and not the other nodes that are potentially prone to garbage collection delays.
After configuring a custom paritioning scheme, the data distribution may be verified, e.g. by inspecting the MBeans of the distributed maps via JMX.
The following list gives an overview about different features that were implemented using the new cluster capabilities.
Previously, when an Open-Xchange server was shutdown for maintenance, all user sessions that were bound to that machine were lost, i.e. the users needed to login again. With the distributed session storage, all sessions are backed by a distributed map in the cluster, so that they are no longer bound to a specific node in the cluster. When a node is shut down, the session data is still available in the cluster and can be accessed from the remaining nodes. The load-balancing techniques of the webserver then seamlessly routes the user session to another node, with no session expired errors. The distributed session storage comes with the package open-xchange-sessionstorage-hazelcast. It's recommended to install this optional package in all clustered environments with multiple groupware server nodes.
Depending on the cluster infrastructure, different backup-count configuration options might be set for the distributed session storage in the map configuration file sessions.properties in the hazelcast subdirectory:
The backupcount property configures the number of nodes with synchronized backups. Synchronized backups block operations until backups are successfully copied and acknowledgements are received. If 1 is set as the backup-count for example, then all entries of the map will be copied to another JVM for fail-safety. 0 means no backup. Any integer between 0 and 6. Default is 1, setting bigger than 6 has no effect.
The asyncbackup property configures the number of nodes with async backups. Async backups do not block operations and do not require acknowledgements. 0 means no backup. Any integer between 0 and 6. Default is 0, setting bigger than 6 has no effect.
Since session data is backed up by default continously by multiple nodes in the cluster, the steps described in Session_Migration to trigger session mirgration to other nodes explicitly is obsolete and no longer needed with the distributed session storage.
Normally, sessions in the distributed storages are not evicted automatically, but are only removed when they're also removed from the session handler, either due to a logout operation or when exceeding the long-term session lifetime as configured by com.openexchange.sessiond.sessionLongLifeTime in sessiond.properties. Under certain circumstances, i.e. the session is no longer accessed by the client and the OX node hosting the session in it's long-life container being shutdown, the remove operation from the distributed storage might not be triggered. Therefore, additionaly a maximum idle time of map-entries can be configured for the distributed sessions map via
To avoid unnecessary eviction, the value should be higher than the configured com.openexchange.sessiond.sessionLongLifeTime in sessiond.properties.
For faster access, groupware data is held in different caches by the server. Formerly, the caches utilized the TCP Lateral Auxiliary Cache plug in (LTCP) for the underlying JCS caches to broadcast updates and removals to caches on other OX nodes in the cluster. This could potentially lead to problems when remote invalidation was not working reliably due to network discovery problems. As an alternative, remote cache invalidation can also be performed using reliable publish/subscribe events built up on Hazelcast topics. This can be configured in the cache.properties configuration file, where the 'eventInvalidation' property can either be set to 'false' for the legacy behavior or 'true' for the new mechanism:
All nodes participating in the cluster should be configured equally.
Internally, if com.openexchange.caching.jcs.eventInvalidation is set to true, LTCP is disabled in JCS caches. Instead, an internal mechanism based on distributed Hazelcast event topics is used to invalidate data throughout all nodes in the cluster after local update- and remove-operations. Put-operations aren't propagated (and haven't been with LTCP either), since all data put into caches can be locally loaded/evaluated at each node from the persistent storage layer.
Using Hazelcast-based cache invalidation also makes further configuration of the JCS auxiliaries obsolete in the cache.ccf configuration file. In that case, all jcs.auxiliary.LTCP.* configuration settings are virtually ignored. However, it's still required to mark caches that require cluster-wide invalidation via jcs.region.<cache_name>=LTCP, just as before. So basically, when using the new default setting com.openexchange.caching.jcs.eventInvalidation=true, it's recommended to just use the stock cache.ccf file, since no further LTCP configuration is required.
The underlying Hazelcast library can be configured using the file hazelcast.properties.
By default property com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.interfaces is set to 127.0.0.1; meaning Hazelcast listens only to loop-back device. To build a cluster among remote nodes the appropriate network interface needs to be configured there. Leaving that property empty lets Hazelcast listen to all available network interfaces.
The Hazelcast JMX MBean can be enabled or disabled with the property com.openexchange.hazelcast.jmx. The properties com.openexchange.hazelcast.mergeFirstRunDelay and com.openexchange.hazelcast.mergeRunDelay control the run intervals of the so-called Split Brain Handler of Hazelcast that initiates the cluster join process when a new node is started. More details can be found at http://www.hazelcast.com/docs/2.5/manual/single_html/#NetworkPartitioning.
The port ranges used by Hazelcast for incoming and outgoing connections can be controlled via the configuration parameters com.openexchange.hazelcast.networkConfig.port, com.openexchange.hazelcast.networkConfig.portAutoIncrement and com.openexchange.hazelcast.networkConfig.outboundPortDefinitions.
To print out statistics about the cluster and the distributed data, the showruntimestats commandline tool can be executed witht the clusterstats ('c') argument. This provides an overview about the runtime cluster configuration of the node, other members in the cluster and distributed data structures.
In the Open-Xchange server Java process, the MBean com.hazelcast can be used to monitor and manage different aspects of the underlying Hazelcast cluster. The com.hazelcast MBean provides detailed information about the cluster configuration and distributed data structures.
When experiencing hazelcast related errors in the logfiles, most likely different versions of the packages are installed, leading to different message formats that can't be understood by nodes using another version. Examples for such errors are exceptions in hazelcast components regarding (de)serialization or other message processing. This may happen when performing a consecutive update of all nodes in the cluster, where temporarily nodes with a heterogeneous setup try to communicate with each other. If the errors don't disappear after all nodes in the cluster have been update to the same package versions, it might be necessary to shutdown the cluster completely, so that all distributed data is cleared.
The Hazelcast based clustering features can be disabled with the following property changes:
As hazelcast will be used by default for the distribution of sessions starting 6.22.2 you have to adjust hazelcast according to our old cache configuration. First of all it's important that you install the open-xchange-sessionstorage-hazelcast package. This package will add the binding between hazelcast and the internal session management. Next you have to set a cluster name to the cluster.properties file (see #Cluster Discovery Errors). Furthermore you will have to add one of the two discovery modes mentioned in #Cluster Discovery.
Running a cluster means built-in failover on the one hand, but might require some attention when it comes to the point of upgrading the services on all nodes in the cluster. This chapter gives an overview about general concepts and hints for silent updates of the cluster.
While in most cases a seamless, rolling upgrade of all nodes in the cluster is possible, there may be situations where nodes running a newer version of the Open-Xchange Server are not able to communicate with older nodes in the cluster, i.e. can't access distributed data or consume incompatible event notifications - especially, when the underlying Hazelcast library is part of the update, which does not support this scenario at the moment. In such cases, the release notes will contain corresponding information, so please have a look there before applying an update.
Additionally, there may always be some kind of race conditions during an update, i.e. client requests that can't be completed successfully or internal events not being deliverd to all nodes in the cluster. That's why the following information should only serve as a best-practices guide to minimize the impact of upgrades to the user experience.
Upgrading all nodes in the cluster should usually be done sequentially, i.o.w. one node after the other. This means that during the upgrade of one node, the node is temporarily disconnected from the other nodes in the cluster, and will join the cluster again after the update is completed. From the backend perspective, this is as easy as stopping the open-xchange service. other nodes in the cluster will recognize the disconnected node and start to repartition the shared cluster data automatically. But wait a minute - doing so would potentially lead to the webserver not registering the node being stopped immediately, resulting in temporary errors for currently logged in users until they are routed to another machine in the cluster. That's why it's good practice to tell the webserver's load balancer that the node should no longer fulfill incoming requests. The Apache Balancer Manager is an excellent tool for this (module mod_status). Look at the screen shot. Every node can be put into a disabled mode. Further requests will the redirected to other nodes in the cluster:
Afterwards, the open-xchange service on the disabled node can be stopped by executing:
$ /etc/init.d/open-xchange stop
$ service open-xchange stop
Now, the node is effectively in maintenance mode and any updates can take place. One could now verify the changed cluster infrastructure by accessing the Hazelcast MBeans either via JMX or the showruntimestats -c commandline tool (see above for details). There, the shut down node should no longer appear in the 'Member' section (com.hazelcast:type=Member).
When all upgrades are processed, the node open-xchange service can be started again by executing:
$ /etc/init.d/open-xchange start
$ service open-xchange start
As stated above, depending on the chosen cluster discovery mechanism, it might take some time until the node joins the cluster again. When using static cluster discovery, it will join the existing cluster usually directly during serivce startup, i.o.w. before other depending OSGi services are started. Otherwise, there might also be situations where the node cannot join the cluster directly, for example when there were no mDNS advertisments for other nodes in the cluster received yet. Then, it can take some additional time until the node finally joins the cluster. During startup of the node, you can observe the JMX console or the output of showruntimestats -c (com.hazelcast:type=Member) of another node in the cluster to verify when the node has joined.
After the node has joined, distributed data is re-partioned automatically, and the node is ready to server incoming requests again - so now the node can finally be enabled again in the load balancer configuration of the webserver. Afterwards, the next node in the cluster can be upgraded using the same procedure, until all nodes were processed.
In case an upgrade includes a major update of the Hazelcast library, a newly upgraded node will usually not be able to connect to the nodes running the previous version. In this case, volatile cluster data is lost after all nodes in the cluster have been updated, including sessions held in the distributed session storage. As outlined above, the release notes will contain a corresponding warning in such cases.
Besides upgraded nodes not being able to access distributed data of the legacy cluster, this also affects new data not being available in the legacy cluster, which may cause troubles if the updated backend version needs to perform database update tasks. Database update tasks usually operate in a "blocking" way and all contexts associated with the schema being upgraded are disabled temporarily. Since context data itself is being held in caches on potentially each node in the cluster, the affected cache entries are invalidated during the database update. And, since cluster-wide cache invalidations again utilize Hazelcast functionality (#Remote Cache Invalidation), such invalidations normally won't be propagated to nodes running a previous version of the Hazelcast library.
To work around this specific scenario where an incompatible upgrade of the Hazelcast library needs to be performed along with blocking database update tasks, starting with v7.8.0, a supplementary package is available that explicitly enables the context cache invalidation of nodes running the previous Hazelcast library. This package follows the naming scheme open-xchange-cluster-upgrade-from-XXX (where XXX representing the version of the legacy version of the Open-Xchange server), and is available in the repositories for the updated server packages. This package should only be installed on the first node of the cluster that is going to be upgraded to the new version, and can be deactivated once the database upgrade tasks were executed successfully.
Once installed, a legacy cluster is discovered based on the available information in the hazelcast.properties configuration file in case cluster discovery is set to static. If multicast is used, there's an alternative option to configure at least one of the addresses of the legacy cluster via com.openexchange.hazelcast.network.client.nodes.
As an example, along with the server v7.8.0, a new package named open-xchange-cluster-upgrade-from-76x can be installed that aids in invalidating cluster server nodes running v7.6.x (which includes the Hazelcast library in version 3.2.4). Using this package, the recommended steps to update an OX cluster from version 7.6.x to version 7.8.0 would be:
Same steps apply to upgrading from v7.8.0 through v7.8.2 (incl.) to v7.8.3 using the package named open-xchange-cluster-upgrade-from-780-782, since v7.8.0 through v7.8.2 (incl.) utilize Hazelcast v3.5.x, while v7.8.3 uses Hazelcast v3.6.4