Core group scaling considerations

The amount of system resources, such as CPU and memory, that the high availability manager consumes does not increase linearly as the size of a core group increases. For example, the View Synchrony Protocol that the high availability manager uses requires a large amount of these resources to maintain a tight coupling over the core group members. Therefore, the amount of resources that a large core group consumes might become significant.

View Synchrony Protocol resource requirements can vary considerably for different core groups of the same size. The amount of resources that the View Synchrony Protocol uses for a core group is determined by:

When setting up core group scalability, ensure that:

Consider implementing one or more of the following scalability techniques to scale the high availability manager in large cells, even if your system is operating properly. The two most basic techniques are:


Adjusting the size of a core group

Core group size directly effects three aspects of high availability manager processing that impact resource usage:

View Changes

The View Synchrony Protocol creates a new view whenever it detects that there is a change in core group members that are active. A view change typically occurs whenever a core group member starts or stops. When a core group member starts, it opens a connection to all of the other running core group members. When a core group member stops, other core group members detect that their open connections to the stopped member are closed. In either case, the View Synchrony Protocol needs to account for this change. In the case of a newly started member, the View Synchrony Protocol must establish a view that includes the new member. In the case of a stopped member, the View Synchrony Protocol must establish new view for the surviving core group members that excludes the stopped member.

Establishing a new view is an important activity but uses a lot of system resources, especially for large core groups.

  • Each running core group member must communicate its current state to other core group members, including information about the messages it has sent or received in the current view.

  • All messages sent in a given view must be received and acknowledged by all recipients before a new view can be installed. Under normal operating conditions, receipt of these messages is acknowledged slowly. Completing messages at a view change boundary in a timely fashion requires aggressive acknowledgement and retransmission.

  • All core group members must transmit data regarding their current state, such as the set of other core group members to which they can actively communicate.

As the number of active members grows, installing a new view requires a larger, temporary nonlinear increase in high availability manager CPU usage. It is significantly more expensive to add or remove a single member when 50 other core group members exist, than it is to add or remove a member when 20 other members exist.

Installing a new view also triggers state changes in WAS components that use the high availability manager. For example, routing tables might need to be updated to reflect the started or stopped member, or a singleton service might need to be restarted on a new member.

The end result is that installing a new view results in a significant, transient spike in CPU usage. If core group sizes become too large, degenerate network timing conditions occur at the view change boundary. These conditions usually result in a failure during an attempt to install a new view. Recovery from such a failure is also CPU intensive. When insufficient CPU is available, or paging occurs, failures can quickly multiply.

Background tasks

The high availability manager periodically runs a number of background tasks, such as checking the health of highly available singleton services that it is managing. Most of these background tasks consume trivial amounts of CPU. The exceptions are the regularly scheduled discovery and Failure Detection Protocols.

The Discovery Protocol attempts to establish communications among core group members that are not currently connected, including processes that are not running. For a given core group that contains N core group members, of which M are currently running, each discovery period results in roughly M x (N – M) discovery messages. Therefore, creating a large number of processes that never start adversely affects the Discovery Protocol CPU usage.

Similarly, when the Failure Detection Protocol runs, each core group member sends heartbeats to all of its established connections to other core group members. For M active members, M x (M-1) heartbeat messages are sent. If aggressive failure detection is required, the size of the core group can adversely affect the amount of CPU usage that heartbeating between core group members consumes.

Smaller core groups positively affect the amount of CPU usage these two protocols consume. For example, if a core group contains 100 active members, 9900 heartbeat messages are sent during every failure detection period. Splitting the 100 member core group into five smaller core groups of 20 members reduces this number of message to 1900, which is a significant reduction.

External usage

Other WAS components, such as work load management (WLM), and on demand configuration, use high availability manager-provided services, such as live server state exchange, to maintain routing information. The amount of CPU usage that these components consume is linked to core group size. For example, the usage of the live server state exchange to build highly available routing information is linked to the size of the core group.


Distributing processes among multiple core groups

You can use two basic techniques to minimize the amount of resources that the view synchrony and related protocols consume:

The key to limiting the high availability manager CPU usage is to limit the size of the core group. Multiple small core groups are much better than one large core group. If you have large cells, create multiple core groups.

The hardware on which you are running WAS is also a factor in determining the core group size that is appropriate for your environment.

The current recommendation is to limit core group sizes to 50 members or so. Split large core groups into multiple, smaller core groups. If the resulting core groups need to share routing information, use core group bridges to bridge the core groups together.


Adjusting individual core groups based on the application mix and services used

You might need to further adjust Individual core groups based on the application mix and the high availability services that the core group members use.


Adjusting ephemeral port ranges

The number of sockets that a core group uses is usually not a major concern. Each core group member must establish a connection with every other member of that core group. Therefore, the number of connections grows exponentially (n-squared) because each connection requires two sockets, one on each end of the connection. Because multiple machines are typically involved, normally you do not have to be concerned about the number of sockets that a core group uses. However, if you have an abnormally large number of core group members that are running on a single machine, you might have to adjust the operating system parameters that are related to ephemeral port ranges. Most operating systems have different default behavior for ephemeral port ranges.

Related concepts
Core group View Synchrony Protocol Core group Discovery Protocol Core group Failure Detection Protocol Core group coordinator Core groups (high availability domains) Related tasks
Changing the number of core group coordinators Configuring core group preferred coordinators Creating a new core group (high availability domain) Disable or enabling a high availability manager Configuring the Discovery Protocol for a core group Configuring the Failure Detection Protocol for a core group Related reference
When to use a high availability manager Moving core group members




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