Core group migration considerations

High availability manager and core group functionality is provided in WAS V6 and higher. This topic discusses core group configuration and topology considerations that might impact your migration if you are migrating from a version of WebSphere Application Server that does not contain this functionality, such as V5.1.

Before reading this article, you should understand the basic core group concepts contained in the following topics:

Because special planning and migration activities might be required for your environment, before migrating from a version of WebSphere Application Server that does not have a high availability manager to one that does have a high availability manager, you should know the answers to the following questions:


Default core group related migration activities

Core group related activities that are automatically performed during the migration process are relatively simple and straightforward. When you migrate from a V5.x environment to a V6.x environment, the following actions occur in the indicated order:

  1. The deployment manager is migrated to V6.x.

  2. During the migration process, a V6.x deployment manager profile and a core group named DefaultCoreGroup is created.

  3. The new deployment manager process is added to DefaultCoreGroup.

  4. V5.x nodes are migrated one by one to V6.x. As each of the nodes is migrated, the node agent and the application servers on the migrating node are added to the DefaultCoreGroup.

When the migration finishes, all of the processes in the Version 5.x cell are members of the V6.x DefaultCoreGroup. Because the DefaultCoreGroup is configured with the default values for all settings, the migration process does not configure preferred coordinator servers and does not partition the coordinator across multiple servers. The migration process also does not create new high availability policies, and does not provide for any custom property configuration overrides.


Planning the Core Group Topology

For most Version 5.x topologies, a default migration yields an appropriate and workable Version 6.x core group topology. In some cases, you might need to make minor changes to the topology, such as setting a non-default transport or configuring the core group for replication. If the V5.x cell is large enough to require multiple core groups in the V6.x topology, then more planning should be done before you start the migration process to prevent application outages from occurring when you make your core group configuration changes..

Migrating a large V5.x cell to V6.x, where multiple core groups are required, can be a complex task. When the V6.x topology requires multiple core groups, you have a number of options as to how, and when to partition the cell into multiple core groups. The approach you take should be based on such factors as the number of processes in the cell, and requirements for continuous application availability. For example, while the normal recommendation is to keep core groups at around 50 members, the practical limit is somewhat higher than 50. For topologies with a small number of applications installed on high end machines (large CPUs with a lot of memory), you might be able to have core groups of up to 200 members. If there are 150 processes in the cell and application availability is not an issue, one option might be to simply migrate the entire cell to V6.x, and then create additional core groups. If application availability is an issue, you should create the additional core groups during the migration process so that you do not have to stop and restart core group members after the migration process completes.

Core Group Size

The most important planning consideration is the size of your core group. By default, there is normally one core group per cell. Because core groups do not scale to large sizes, if your V5.x cell is large, you might want to create additional core groups for your V6.x topology. You might also need to set up core group bridges if these multiple core groups need to communicate with each other.

Core Group Transport

If a change is made to the core group transport configuration, all core group members must be restarted before the change goes into affect. Therefore, planning is required to minimize the effect of changing the transport. If the transport for the DefaultCoreGroup is changed, the best time to change it is immediately after migrating the Deployment Manager, since at that point in time only the Deployment Manager will need to be restarted. If other core groups are created, then the transport should be configured properly as the new core groups are created.

Custom Property Configuration Overrides

A number of core group configuration parameters can be changed via Custom Property overrides. The available custom property overrides are documented in other Information Center articles in this section.

Whenever a Custom Property override is added, removed or changed, all core group members must be restarted in order to pick up the change. Therefore, planning is required to minimize the effect of changing Custom Properties. If Custom Properties must be changed for the DefaultCoreGroup is changed, the best time to change it is immediately after migrating the Deployment Manager. If other core groups are created, then the Custom Properties should be changed as the new core groups are created.

Core Group Coordinator

Configuring preferred coordinator servers is a best practice. Since the HA Manager can dynamically reread and apply core group coordinator configuration changes, a restart of all core group members to pick up this change is not required


Example: A Large Cell Migration

The following example illustrates some of the thought processes that you should go through as you plan for and execute the migration of a large V5.x cell to Version 6.x, where multiple core groups are required. For the purpose of this example, assume your V5.x cell has the following topology characteristics:

The first things to consider in planning the V6.x core group topology is that this cell contains 325 processes, and that continuous availability of applications is a requirement. These factors prevent us from simply migrating the entire cell and then reconfiguring the core groups. You must distribute the processes contained in the cell amongst multiple core groups as part of the migration process.

When determining how you want to distribute the V5.x cell processes amongst the new core group, make sure that each core group adheres to the following core group rules:

Following these rules for this example:

While the number of members in at least one core groups will exceed the recommended limit, the number of members is well within the practical limit, and should not create a problem.

Because the applications in this example require the WLM routing information for each cluster contained in the cell, core group bridges must be set up to enable communication between all of the core groups. (Refer to the core group bridge topics if you are not familiar with how to set up a core group bridge.) An appropriate core group bridge topology for this example includes:

Now that you have determined the setup for your core group bridge interfaces, you are ready to decide how to distribute the ten clusters, eight node agents, eight standalone bridge interface servers, and the deployment manager across your eight core groups. You want to distribute the processes as evenly as possible across the eight core groups. The following topology is a good example of how to evenly distribute the process contained in the V5.x cell:

The default transport in this example does not need to change.

Because this example does not indicate that you will need more than one coordinator per core group, you can leave the coordinator setting at the default value of 1. However, you might want to make the standalone bridge interface server, that is contained in each core group, the preferred coordinator server for that core group. This designation initially keeps the work load required of a coordiantor away from the clustered application servers that are running applications.


Your migration plan

If, after reviewing the preceding example and completing the initial planning process for the cell you are migrating, you determine that the default migration flow is not appropriate for your target V6.x topology, it is time to develop a plan or a road map for the actual migration process. This plan should include all necessary extra core group related steps for migrating from V5.x to V6.x. and answers to the following questions:

When will you create the new core groups?

The best time to create the new core groups is immediately after the deployment manager migration completes. As the new core groups are created, you should configure the previously mentioned custom properties Use either administrative console or the createCoreGroup wsadmin command to create your new core groups. However, use the administrative console to configure the custom properties.

What actions do you need to perform as nodes are migrated?

As each node is migrated, you should:

  • Create the new standalone application server that is to be one of your core group bridge interfaces.

  • Adjust the transport buffer size on all processes on the node. A script is the best option for performing this action.

  • Adjust the heap size on the node agent and the standalone server, and turn on verbose GC for these processes.

All of these changes must be completed before you restart the migrated node. Use the administrative console to make these, and then perform a manual synchronization of the nodes configuration before restarting the node agent and application servers.

When and how are processes moved to new core groups?

By default, the migration process places all processes in the core group named DefaultCoreGroup. At some point in time the number of members contained in this core group will exceed the size limits and redistribute the processes to other core groups. It is important to understand that the processes must be stopped before they can be moved. If continuous application availability is required, carefully plan out the order in which you will move the processes to different core groups.

Use either the administrative console or the moveServerToCoreGroup wsadmin command to move the deployment manager, node agents and standalone application server.

Moving clustered application servers is more complicated. Under normal circumstances, Use either the administrative console or the moveServerToCoreGroup wsadmin command to move clusters. However, during the migration process, because the cluster to be moved might have both V6.x and V5.x members, the normal commands fail because a V5.x cluster member is not yet a member of any core group. To move a mixed cluster to a new core group, use the moveClusterToCoreGroup wsadmin command with the optional checkConfig parameter. Important: This parameter was added in the Version service pack. Therefore, make sure you have that service pack installed on your v6.x system before you start the migration process.

For example, suppose Cluster0 has cluster members A, B, C and D. Member A is on a node that has been migrated to V6.x and is a member of the DefaultCoreGroup, while B, C and D are still on V5.x nodes. To move Cluster0 to core group CG1 use the following command”

$AdminTask moveClusterToCoreGroup {-source CoreGroup1 –target CG1 –clusterName Cluster0 –checkConfig false}

The Migration utilities were changed in the Version service pack to make the task of moving clusters easier. When a clustered application server is migrated, Migration will determine if other cluster members have already been migrated and will place the migrating member in the same core group as other cluster members.

In the example above, member A was moved to core group CG1. When the nodes containing B, C and D are migrated, migration will place these cluster members in CG1 instead of the DefaultCoreGroup. Therefore, it is necessary to run the moveClusterToCoreGroup command only once for each cluster.

When do you need to configure your core group bridges?

By the time you move your processes to multiple core groups, have core group bridges configured and running. This means that the processes that you want to use as bridge interfaces in your V6.x target topology might not be available when they are initially needed because they have not been migrated from the V5.x nodes. Therefore, to ensure continual availability of your applications, configure some clustered application servers to be temporary bridge interfaces while the migration continues. After all of the processes have been migrated to V6.x, you can adjust the core group bridge configuration to match your desired V6.x topology.


Other planning considerations

If your target V6.x configuration requires multiple core group bridges, you should make sure that the v6.2.9 service pack has been installed on your system. This service pack includes scaling improvements that you can use the IBM_CS_WIRE_FORMAT_VERSION core group custom property to implement.

Also, if all of your core groups are bridged together and routing shared information amongst each other, the amount of data shared between the core group members is likely to be much larger than normal. Therefore, you should use the following settings to increase the core group memory settings to allow for a more efficient transfer of data:

You should also consider adjusting such factors such as JVM heap sizes for any node agent or application server that is being used as a bridge interface, and any standalone server that is being used as a coordinator. A recommended starting point is to increase the heap size by 512 megabytes. You can also turn on verbose GC monitoring for these processes so that you can fine tune these heap sizes over time.


Possible migration flows

There are a number of migration flows that you can implement for a successful migration. The following flows assume a common starting point where the deployment manager migration has completed and the core groups have been created, but no further actions have been taken.

Migration Flow 1

In this flow, we strictly follow the rules. This flow is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. As each node is migrated, clusters will need to be moved. This requires stopping all cluster members. This may lead to applications not being available. In addition, the bridges need to be reconfigured at each step.

Migration Flow 2

In this flow, we temporarily bend the rules. This flow yields better results, as running application servers do not need to be stopped to move them to a different core group. While the migration is in progress, some core groups will not contain an administrative process for some period of time. This is a technical violation of the rules, but is acceptable as long as the core group configuration is not changed while the migration is in progress.

Migration Flow 3

This flow is a variation on Flow 2. As noted, this flow is a variation on Flow 2. The benefit is that the initial bridge load is spread across three nodes instead of 1. The disadvantage is that the initial redistribution of clusters to core groups occurs after Node3 has migrated. This requires that the servers running on nodes Node1 and Node2 must be stopped in order for the move to occur. This may affect application availability.

Related concepts
High availability manager When to use a high availability manager Core group coordinator Core group transports Core group administration considerations Core group scaling considerations Core group View Synchrony Protocol Core groups (high availability domains) Related tasks
Creating a new core group (high availability domain) Changing the number of core group coordinators Configuring core group preferred coordinators Disable or enabling a high availability manager Moving core group members




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