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SERVER FAILOVER // AUTOMATED PHYSICAL NETWORK CONNECTIVITY

Posted on 2000-03-16
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hello,

I have a somewhat complex problem that I am asking for a possible solution.  I'm going to set this point value high because of this.

Background:

 I have a server, which is essentially a passthrough server for a database, e.g. it holds no data that we care about, so we image this server with Norton Ghost.  If the server fails we restore the image.

Problem:

The problem is this, we need very little downtime, and the time to re-image the server isn't much its still too long.  So, our solution is to have a server on standby but unplugged from the network (otherwise you would get IP conflicts).  Anyway, this is a partial solution, since it still needs human intervention.  

Solution?:

What we are looking for now is to have both servers ON but only one server plugged into the network and have monitoring detect a failure, then somehow switch over to the standby server.  Anyone know of a physical switch that will allow this via some sort of remote commands?  Or any other solution?  We have LEGATO/VINCA, however this is *NOT* a viable solution, it corrupts our data in our current environment.

I am mostly looking for some device (or other solution) that will allow one server to be plugged into the net, and the ohter server be unplugged at the same time then reverse this via some sort of automation.  Power cycling is not an option either, since it defaults to OFF when the power is off, and never comes on by itself when power is restored.

thank you.


Sorry its so long.  
I will offer 800 points for this question.
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Question by:isepic
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22 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 2625830
try dataprobe.com - They have a number of out of band control products, that may include a switch for TCP or ethernet connections

A second source would be wti.com which has similar equipment.
I hope this helps !
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Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2625883
Well, you could simply plug both in to your network, but administratively down the network port to which the secondary server is connected.
Then write a script to constantly connect to the server, via ping or some call the to the database engine. If the server goes down, you can have the script open a telnet pipe to the router or switch and reverse the ports.

It should not take that much code in Perl to do this, and wouldn't cost anything in hard cash, just some time.
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Expert Comment

by:Otta
ID: 2626310
How about using an IBM Scaleable Power Parallel processor, and IBM's AIX Operating System?

You can have multiple CPUs, and mirrored (and hot-swappable) disks.
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Expert Comment

by:MYSstephenoh
ID: 2626798
For the part of practically low down-time and fast recovery.

I expect your server is using a SCSI adapter and/or SCSI HDD.

1)Adaptec AHA2940U2W adapter.
2)One SCSI HDD that match your current HDD size.

Using WinNT , mirror the drive. Drive bad, power down, boot up mirror drive, format the bad drive, establish mirror again. (the format,establish mirror part is doing while the computer is on, so pratically low down time)

If using another OS, will have to spend on another SCSI HDD and AU1313 RAID card from Adaptec and do the RAID/mirroring on hardware.

*I seriously think you guys have figure about Mirroring but for the nature of ur problem, RAID 5 is the best but most expensive solution, mirroring is cheapest using NT and/or using SCSI adapter.www.adaptec.com

If you use IDE, PROMISE has a FastTRAK IDE RAID card for mirroring/stripping or both. www.promise.com

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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2628840
Okay that is a great answer but I have two physical servers, I already have drive redudancy :-) (raid 5 with 6 drives, etc. etc.)... but I have TWO servers in this situation, so we have 100% system failure backup.  One is dormant until needed.

Thank you very much for your input though!

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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2628863
Okay I need to tell everyone that I **cannot** just change my OS, or physical servers.  AIX isn't a solution (WINK).  I'm locked into my "background" portion of this situation.  The best answer so far is from Sysexpert who recommended the sites for the hardware, but... (there is always a but) they don't offer *THAT* hardware anymore.  Now I'm still on the hunt for some sort of SWITCH that will switch the hardware laywer RJ-45 Ethernet 100mb

Like this (* = remote controlled switch(via tcp/ip command structure or something similar where I can write logic to switch between the two))

Computer one: -----RJ45----
                           \____
                            ____|*--net
Computer two: -----RJ45----/
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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2628872
Okay I need to tell everyone that I **cannot** just change my OS, or physical servers.  AIX isn't a solution (WINK).  I'm locked into my "background" portion of this situation.  The best answer so far is from Sysexpert who recommended the sites for the hardware, but... (there is always a but) they don't offer *THAT* hardware anymore.  Now I'm still on the hunt for some sort of SWITCH that will switch the hardware laywer RJ-45 Ethernet 100mb

Like this (* = remote controlled switch(via tcp/ip command structure or something similar where I can write logic to switch between the two))

Computer one: -----RJ45----
                           \____
                            ____|*--net
Computer two: -----RJ45----/
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Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2628874
You can write a script that will do that for any managed hub or switch device. You don't need any special hardware for it. I imagine you already have the network gear you need.
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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2628879
WYS INSN'T WYG

C1---
     \__
      __*--net
     /    
C2---

Hopefully this one will come out right

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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2628891
You can write a script that will do that for any managed hub or switch device. You don't need any special hardware for it. I imagine you already have the network gear you need.
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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2628895
JJEFF1,

Problem is I don't have control of our switch/hub/router.  I'm given a network feed.   If you are saying I can go out and purchase a HUB from Frys/etc. and program it, please let me know how I can program it and allow both computers to have the same IP address and then make it perform like a switch and I'll give you the points.  I'm not sure that is possible.
0
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Highfive is so simple that setting up every meeting room takes just minutes and every employee will be able to start or join a call from any room with ease. Never be called into a meeting just to get it started again. This is how video conferencing should work!

 
LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2628925
Not quite. You need a managed device, something you can telnet into and mess with. This would be something like a Cisco 2900 switch. It would cost you at least 1000$. You could also do it with a router, but again, it would cost at least $1000. I just assumed you would have access to the this kind of equipment, given the horsepower you have with the servers.
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Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2628930
What about Wake on Lan? You could setup a script to ping the up server and wend out a WOL packet to the backup server if the primary fails.

Wake On Lan allows you to send a magic packet over the network. Your network adapter listens for the packet and will turn on the computer for you.
Jeff
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Expert Comment

by:alisdair010799
ID: 2629139
Does your OS support clustering.
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Expert Comment

by:MYSstephenoh
ID: 2629141
Rather then looking on a "physical" solution (hardware), did you think of a software solution ? A program which will detect the failure of ur 1st server and kick the 2nd server in, to replace the 1st ?

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Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2629168
I can think of a backwards way to do it...

Setup your backup server as a dual boot with WIN95 and NT server (I assume it's NT, I don't really know). Make the default OS be NT.

Setup Win95 to be a different IP than the primary server, but NT to be the same address. Make a script under 95 that pings the primary server and forces a reboot on the backup server if the ping fails. When it boots back up it will start with NT. Your total failover time will be as long as it takes your server to boot.

Ugly, but it should work.
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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2629174
Alisdair, MYstephenoh
 ITs windows NT Server SP6a, we have Legato/Vinco cluster (this is for MYSstephenoh) however our current configuration/setup doesn't allow it to function properly, also its mostly for hardware failover.  We are going to be doing service monitoring, hardware monitoring, and transaction monitoring, if one thing fails, then we simply switch to the other server.

JEFF1,

I will research that to see if its a possiblity.


Thank you so far everyone!!
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Expert Comment

by:jjeff1
ID: 2629178
This sounds perfect - its described as  "server mirroring software" with "redundant everything"

http://www.1776soft.com/products.htm
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Expert Comment

by:MYSstephenoh
ID: 2629180
Computer Associates www.cai.com

Unicenter or NetworkIT Pro
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Expert Comment

by:SysExpert
ID: 2629295
My original post shows a number of options. using
MultiPAL  Relay Control Functions, or some other solution provided by dataprobe, you can arrange to automatically switch between the two computers ( I would switch the 4 pair of ethernet cables ), so that Only one is active. They also offer specialized hardware/software if needed and customizing.
Give them a call. For critical data/apps like yours, a $1000- $2000 solution is very reasonable.

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Accepted Solution

by:
SysExpert earned 800 total points
ID: 2629313
http://www.wti.com/afs-16.htm is exactly what you need for remote control switching of UTP pairs. That's two solutions already.
A fuller description :
Network disasters are impossible to predict, but can be effectively controlled with the AFS. It's job is to
closely monitor activity on primary hardware lines. In the event that the line changes state, the AFS quickly
responds and re-routes data signals to a backup line. Your lost data and downtime is cut to a bare minimum.

The system is designed for applications that require automatic routing of analog or
digital signals between a common jack and an A and B jack. It is ideal for
switching RS232, RS422/485, Ethernet/UTP or telephone lines.

The system consists of a Card Rack, a plug-in Power Supply Module, and RS-232
Command Port Card and up to 16 Switch Cards. Each card is capable of switching
all 8 pins of a common RJ45 jack between jacks "a" and "b". Each card can be
switched manually or by command. The RS-232 command port can be connected to
a modem to enter set-up parameters, execute switching commands or view status of
the unit's parameters from remote sites.
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Author Comment

by:isepic
ID: 2629517
I wanted to thank everyone, what SYSEXPERT posted first and followed up on I think is the BEST answer, even though all you guys had other good possiblities.  I thank you all for your help.

-iSEPIC
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