Creating a Cluster Resource DLL (Part 3)

Creating a Cluster Resource DLL (Part 3)

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Hi,

In this series of blog posts we will help you to design, develop and debug the Resource DLL you are developing to give your application high-availability with Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2 Failover Clustering.

 

We recommend you start with the other blog post in the series:

·         Part 1: http://blogs.msdn.com/clustering/archive/2010/03/11/9976620.aspx

·         Part 2: http://blogs.msdn.com/clustering/archive/2010/03/30/9987135.aspx

 

In our last post we showed the following RHS Resource state machine and described how to intepret the diagram.  We will be referring to this same state machine in this blog post.

 

 

In this post, the final post in the series, we will walk through some scenarios using the above state chart diagram. 

 

Scenario 1

First we will assume we have a resource that does not have dependencies, and this resource is offline. The user tells the cluster to online this resource.  RCM will call to RHS, and RHS will call the Online entry point.  From now on, the resource is in the Onlining state, and specifically it is in the “Online in Progress” sub-state.  By default, the resource is allowed to remain in this state for up to 5 minutes.  The diagram below shows the workflow if resource comes online successfully.

 

 

 

Please note that in this sample scenario the Resource DLL handles the online in a worker thread, which is not always required.  You can find details on how to implement pending operations using a worker thread here http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa370471(VS.85).aspx.

If you are confident that online will complete within 5 minutes you can take all actions required to online the application within the Online call.  Returning ERROR_SUCCESS from the Online call will move the RHS state machine directly to the Online state.  You need to be careful when choosing if you need to pend Online/Offline call, because if Online does not complete within 5 minutes this will cause “Online Failure”, and will increase your application down time.  We suggest to always pend Online and Offline unless it is very trivial, and can complete below 300 Milliseconds.

 

Scenario 2

Now let’s review how the scenario might change if the Online call to the Resource DLL completes in a different way.

·         If Online call completes with a success then the resource is moved to the Online state

·         If Online call does not return in 5 minutes then RHS will declare that the resource is “deadlocked”, and will move the resource to a “Failed/Terminating” state

·         If Online call completes with a failure then the resource is moved to the “Failed/Terminating” state

·         If Online call completes with code ERROR_PENDING then resource is moved to the Online Pending state.  In that state RHS assumes that the Resource DLL wants more time to complete the online and that it has spawned a worker thread that continues the online.  The resource can stay in that state for up to 3 minutes without talking to RHS.  After 3 minutes of silence, RHS will declare that resource has deadlocked and will move the resource to the “Failed/Terminating” state.  If during these 3 minutes the resource calls SetResourceStatus then it will be given another 3 minutes to continue the online.

·         If resource is in the “Online Pending” state and SetResourceStatus has indicated that the call has completed with ERROR_SUCCESS then resource is moved to the Online state

·         If resource is in the “Online Pending” state and SetResourceStatus has indicated that the call has completed with an error then resource is moved to the “Failed/Terminating” state

·         In the “Failed/Terminating” state resource waits for a Terminate call from the RCM

 

The Offline call is handled very similar to the Online call, since it can also be “pending”.  Generally all the statements we made above for the Online (& Online Pending) call apply to the Offline (& Offline Pending) call.

While a resource is in the “Online in Progress” or “Offline in Progress” states, RHS will not send resource controls to the resource, but as soon as resource moves to the “Online Pending” or “Offline Pending” state resource will start receiving resource controls.

Please note that when Online and Offline are taking too long they are handled by the RHS differently from how other calls are handled.  For Online and Offline calls, RHS notifies RCM.  RCM is expected to issue a Terminate call.  For the other calls with a timeout, RHS still notifies RCM, but after that RHS just terminates itself after creating a crash dump file (for more information about that see the following blog post http://blogs.msdn.com/clustering/archive/2009/06/27/9806160.aspx).  RCM will observe that RHS is gone and will take a recovery action.

Scenario 3

The next scenario refers to the diagram below:

 

               

 c

 

This image shows the case when user is trying to take a resource offline, and offline is taking too long due to a call which takes longer than 3 minutes.  As soon as RHS has detected the timeout, it changes the resource state to “Failed/Terminating”, and reports that to RCM.  In response, RCM issues a terminate call back to RHS.  RHS calls the Resource DLL Terminate entry point.  The Resource DLL takes an action to speed up the Online call completion.  For instance, if the Resource DLL uses a socket to communicate with the application then Terminate might try to close the socket.  After that Terminate waits for the Offline worker thread to complete, it then takes some action to offline the application. Please note that the Terminate call is also subject to the 5 minutes timeout.  So if the Offline worker thread does not complete in time, or if Terminate will get stuck on its own, then RHS will take recovery actions.  This time RHS will terminate itself. 

As soon as resource moves to the Online state, then RHS starts health monitoring the resource. Resource can choose one of the two health monitoring modes:

·         One option is that the Resource provides a handle.  This could be any handle that can be used in a call to WaitForSingleObject such as a handle to an event or to a process.  As long as the corresponding to the handle object is not signaled, then the resource is healthy.  If the object got signaled, then RHS will notify RCM about that and will wait for a Terminate call.

·         If no handle is provided, RHS will call LooksAlive and IsAlive Resource DLL entry points to verify resource health.  It is assumed that LooksAlive calls are much lighter, and are called more frequently compared to the IsAlive.  By default, LooksAlive is called every 5 seconds, and IsAlive is called every minute.  If LooksAlive indicates failure, then RHS immediately calls IsAlive.  If IsAlive confirms the failure, then RCM is notified about that, and eventually it will send a Terminate call.  RHS will stop scheduling LooksAlive and IsAlive calls as soon as resource fails or moves out of the Online state due to an Offline or a Terminate.

 

Terminate call can run concurrently with any other call. Terminate is expected to perform the following tasks:

·         If there is an ongoing Online or Offline call then Terminate is responsible for canceling it or for doing something that will expedite completion of the call

·         After that, Terminate should wait for the ongoing call to complete

·         Finally it is responsible for bringing the resource to Offline state

 

Let’s review the concurrency rules:

·         Open is called before any other calls to the resource

·         At the moment Close is called, no other calls should be going on, and no calls to that resource can happen after the Close

·         Terminate can be called concurrently with any other call except Open or Close

·         ResourceControl, IsAlive, LooksAlive, Offline (in the “Offline in Progress” sub-state), and Online (in the “Online in Progress” sub-state) are serialized with each other

·         IsAlive and LooksAlive can be sent to the resource only while the resource is Online, and it has not indicated a failure, unless pre-empted by Terminate

·         As soon as Online or Offline moves to a pending state, the resource controls can be executed concurrently with the worker thread that conducts online or offline

 

I hope this series of blog posts will be helpful when you design your own Resource DLL.

 

Thanks,
Vladimir Petter
Senior Software Development Engineer
Clustering & High-Availability
Microsoft

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  • This is a very good explanation about the Online / Offline processes of a Resource DLL.

    I would like to see what's the recommended way to do the IsAlive / LooksAlive. There too I encountered a recommendation in MSDN to use a worker thread for operations that take too long to complete (as is the case with my resource). But using a worker thread in that case proved to be a bit more complicated.

    I would also like to hear about different ways to write logs from within the Resource DLL. Logs that I could then ask the client to send me in case of failure for analysis. So I could resolve if and what has gone wrong with the DLL.

    Thank you very much. Keep up the good work!

  • Hi Avihu,

    Great feedback, we've just published Part 4 - IsAlive and LooksAlive.

    blogs.msdn.com/.../10051655.aspx

    Thanks,

    Symon Perriman

    Cluster Team

  • If possible, provide some sample code for Resource.dll. This will help others to create Resoruce.dll for their requirement. If you take any procuts, Veritas , Vmware or Sun, they are giving samples to understand the concepts well.

  • A sample for a resource dll is included in the Windows SDK under C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0\Samples\winbase\cluster\win2003\clipbookserver

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