Redhat Cluster and Citrix XenServer

I wanted to write down a guide for RHCS on RHEL/Centos6 and XenServer.

If you want to do that, you need to go through two major challenges which you will encounter. I want to save on the search and sum it all up together here.

The first difficulty is the shared disk. In order to set up most common cluster scenarios, you will need a shared storage. You could either map the VMs to an iSCSI LUNs external to the environment, however, if you do not have such infrastructure (either because everything is based on SAS/FC, or you do not have the ability to set up iSCSI storage with reasonable level of availability), you will want XenServer to allow you to share the VDI between two VMs.

In order to do so, you will need to add a flag to all your pool’s XenServers, and to create the VDI in a specific method. First – the flag – you need to create a file in /etc/xensource called “allow_multiple_vdi_attach”. Do not forget to add it to all your XenServers:

touch /etc/xensource/allow_multiple_vdi_attach

Next, you will need to create your VDI as “raw” type. This is an example. You need to change the SR UUID to the one you use:

xe vdi-create sm-config:type=raw sr-uuid=687a023b-0b20-5e5f-d1ef-3db777ce7ae4 name-label=”My Raw LVM VDI” virtual-size=8GiB type=user

You can find Citrix article about it here.

Following that, you can complete your cluster setup and configuration. I will not add details about it here, as this is not the focus of this article. However, when it comes to fencing, you will need a solution. The solution I used was a fencing agent which was written specifically for XenServer using XenAPI, by using the agent called fence-xenserver. I did not use the fencing agents repository (which this page also points to), because I was unable to compile the required components to run on Centos6. They just don’t compile well. This is, however, a simple Python script which actually works.

In order to make it work, I did the following:

  • Extracted the archive (version 0.8)
  • Placed fence_cxs* in /usr/sbin, and removed their ‘.py’ suffix
  • Placed XenAPI.py as-is in /usr/sbin
  • Verified /usr/sbin/fence_cxs* had execution permissions.

Now, I needed to add it to the cluster configuration. Since the agent cannot handle accessing a non-pool master, it had to be defined for each pool member (I cannot tell in advance which of them is going to have the pool master role when a failover should happen). So, this is my cluster.conf relevant parts:

<fencedevices>
<fencedevice agent=”fence_cxs_redhat” login=”root” name=”xenserver01″ passwd=”password” session_url=”https://xenserver01″/>
<fencedevice agent=”fence_cxs_redhat” login=”root” name=”xenserver02″ passwd=”password” session_url=”https://xenserver02″/>
<fencedevice agent=”fence_cxs_redhat” login=”root” name=”xenserver03″ passwd=”password” session_url=”https://xenserver03″/>
<fencedevice agent=”fence_cxs_redhat” login=”root” name=”xenserver04″ passwd=”password” session_url=”https://xenserver04″/>
</fencedevices>
<clusternodes>
<clusternode name=”clusternode1″ nodeid=”1″>
<fence>
<method name=”xenserver01″>
<device name=”xenserver01″ vm_name=”clusternode1″/>
</method>
<method name=”xenserver02″>
<device name=”xenserver02″ vm_name=”clusternode1″/>
</method>
<method name=”xenserver03″>
<device name=”xenserver03″ vm_name=”clusternode1″/>
</method>
<method name=”xenserver04″>
<device name=”xenserver04″ vm_name=”clusternode1″/>
</method>
</fence>
</clusternode>
<clusternode name=”clusternode2″ nodeid=”2″>
<fence>
<method name=”xenserver01″>
<device name=”xenserver01″ vm_name=”clusternode2″/>
</method>
<method name=”xenserver02″>
<device name=”xenserver02″ vm_name=”clusternode2″/>
</method>
<method name=”xenserver03″>
<device name=”xenserver03″ vm_name=”clusternode2″/>
</method>
<method name=”xenserver04″>
<device name=”xenserver04″ vm_name=”clusternode2″/>
</method>
</fence>
</clusternode>
</clusternodes>

Attached xenserver-fencing-cluster.xml for clarity (WordPress makes a mess out of that)

Note that I used four (4) entries, since my pool has four hosts. Also note the VM name (it is case sensitive), and your methods – one for each host, since you don’t want them running in parallel, but one at a time. Failover time is between 5-15 seconds on my tests, depending on who is the actually pool master (xenserver04 takes the longest, obviously). I did not test it with pool master down (before or without HA kicking in), nor with the hosts down and thus TCP timeout is longer (than when attempting to connect a host which responds immediately that it is not the pool master). However, if ILO fencing takes about 30-60 seconds, I am not complaining about the current timeouts.

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