Configure VRRP on hp networking E5400-Family

Configuring redundant gateway services for hp ProCurve ProVision based switches is not a very big miracle. Basically its about switching it on. VRRP, saying virtual router redundancy protocol is similar to HSRP from  CISCO or CARP from Open BSD. VRRP itself as of today is standardized in RFC5798 by the IETF and follows hp’s habit of using industry standard protocols.

Why is it not redundant routing ? Well since the VRRP feature is enabled on an per VLAN basis and even more, it only defines a redundant IP interface within the according VLAN. The actual routing is covered independently from this. Assuming that the routing is configured properly the failing over IP interface ensures that the routing can happen. Itself provides only a redundant IP interface, which could be used as routing gateway, so we name the function redundant gateway services.

Different to other approaches by other vendors, VRRP only provides pairwise redundancy where the virtual IP interface is the same than the according VLAN IP on the owning routing switch. This address is failed over to the backup switch, who has a second IP interface configured in the VLAN. This is necessary to check the proper operation of the primary interface.

The partnering happens based on a so called virtual router ID, VRID which is defined within the VRRP configuration. This enables administrators to configure even different redundant IP gateways within one VLAN, if static routing requirements have this need.

So configuration on the Master works as follows. First configure the proper VLAN IP address. Naming VLANs is a clever approach and helps in the long run.

vlan 10
name "production east"
ip address

Then the VRRP feature is globally enabled:

router vrrp

Then the actual redundant IP interface is configured within the according VLAN context:

vlan 10
vrrp vrid 1

Be aware that the VRID context is independently activated on a per VLAN basis and enabled within each VRID definition.

On the backup routing switch the VLAN IP configuration as wel as the VRRP activation look pretty much the same.

vlan 10
name "production east"
ip address

router vrrp

Within the VLAN based VRRP configuration here the backup role is defined:

vlan 10
vrrp vrid 1

Voila, redundant gateway interfaces should be available.

Especially the strict creation of pairs is different to other implementations. Often sets of interfaces may be created. As well the assignment of the virtual IP as the identical IP that the VLAN IP on the owning router is not necessarily something other vendors do the same way. Very often the virtual IP is one and the local VLAN IPs are two different dedicated ones.

Blade New World

Most computer vendors flood the marketplace with more or less sophisticated blade solutions. Remark: Blade solutions well differentiated from blade servers.

So here some musings on blades and why I tend to differentiate between basic blade servers and the more sophisticated approach.

Basic blade concepts primarily convince, considering all the same aspects:

  • Optimized footprint aka rackspace
  • Reduced cabeling
  • Energy efficiency
  • Virtualized installation media
  • Cooling efficiency
  • Central management and maintenance
  • Easy hardware deployment and service

To whatever extend the different breeds address the different issues, these primarily are seem to be the supperficial quality criteria and argued in many decission processes, missing the core scope of the discussion. These topics are covered in the mainstream publications and are measured as the grade of quality of the “solution”.

From my point of view this is completely out of scope.

The real value of blades is interconnect virtualisation together with the so called “stateless server” approach. No surprise that many vendors try to keep the discussion on the less important facts, since according to my labs and evaluations only three major vendors even understood the issue. Depending on their legacy obligations they have more or less radical approaches to reach the goal.

The goal is to generate a server personality, its identity in terms of technical aspects, dynamically by application of a so called service- or server- profile. This profile contains the different aspects of the individual server identity such as e.g.:

  • BIOS version
  • Other firmware version, e.g. HBA or NIC
  • WWNs for port and node
  • MAC addresses
  • Server UUID
  • Interface assignements
  • Priorities for QoS and power settings

Accroding to these profiles and derived from pools of IDs, MACs, WWNs the servers identity is generated dynamically and assigned during a so called provisioning phase. Then the blade server is available for installation.

This approach allows to “on the fly” generate a server personality, that serves dedicated needs as for instance an VMWare vSphere server or an database server. Furthermore if more servers from the same type are needed the profiles my be cloned or derived from ma template so that new rollouts are quick and easy. In case of failiure or desaster recovery the profiles may even roam to other, not yet personalized servers and asuming a boot from SAN or boot from iSCSI scenario failed servers are back in minutes, transarent to even hardware based licensing issues.

Derived from specially the need for flexible interconnect assignment the classical approach of dedicated Ethernet or Fibrechannel switch modules in a blade infrastructure is of no further use any more. The classical approach needs dedicated interconnects at dedicated blade positions which is exactly the limitation a service profile wants to overcome.

With converged infrastructure, the support of FCoE and data center bridging as well as the according so called converged network adapters, thi limitation has been overcome on the interconnect side. Here the interconnect is configured in an appropriate way to cover the server side settings and assigns dynamically different NIC and HBA configurations to the single blade. Even more the connections may apply QoS or bandwith reservation settings and implment high connection availability in a simplyfied manner.

Based on that far advanced and very modern hardware operation concepts are possible. Only blade concepts, that support the full range of this essentially decoupling from hardware and service role, deserve the name “solution”. Anything else is “me too”.

Some posts on howtos from my previous evaluation and installation projects will follow. Some readers may remember my old blogg 😉