2.4.2. Direct Routing

2.4.2. Direct Routing

Building an LVS setup that uses direct routing provides increased performance benefits compared to other LVS networking topographies. Direct routing allows the real servers to process and route packets directly to a requesting user rather than passing all outgoing packets through the LVS router. Direct routing reduces the possibility of network performance issues by relegating the job of the LVS router to processing incoming packets only.

An LVS Cluster Implemented with Direct Routing

Figure 2.4. An LVS Cluster Implemented with Direct Routing

In the typical direct routing LVS setup, the LVS router receives incoming server requests through the virtual IP (VIP) and uses a scheduling algorithm to route the request to the real servers. The real server processes the request and sends the response directly to the client, bypassing the LVS routers. This method of routing allows for scalability in that real servers can be added without the added burden on the LVS router to route outgoing packets from the real server to the client, which can become a bottleneck under heavy network load.

2.4.2.1. Direct Routing and the ARP Limitation

While there are many advantages to using direct routing in LVS, there are limitations as well. The most common issue with LVS via direct routing is with Address Resolution Protocol (ARP).

In typical situations, a client on the Internet sends a request to an IP address. Network routers typically send requests to their destination by relating IP addresses to a machine's MAC address with ARP. ARP requests are broadcasted to all connected machines on a network, and the machine with the correct IP/MAC address combination receives the packet. The IP/MAC associations are stored in an ARP cache, which is cleared periodically (usually every 15 minutes) and refilled with IP/MAC associations.

The issue with ARP requests in a direct routing LVS setup is that because a client request to an IP address must be associated with a MAC address for the request to be handled, the virtual IP address of the LVS system must also be associated to a MAC as well. However, since both the LVS router and the real servers all have the same VIP, the ARP request will be broadcasted to all the machines associated with the VIP. This can cause several problems, such as the VIP being associated directly to one of the real servers and processing requests directly, bypassing the LVS router completely and defeating the purpose of the LVS setup. While this issue can be remedied by using an LVS router with a powerful CPU that can respond quicker to client requests, if the LVS router is under heavy load, then it may be slower to respond to the ARP request than an underutilized real server, which responds quicker and is assigned the VIP in the ARP cache of the requesting client.

To solve this issue, the incoming requests should only associate the VIP to the LVS router, which will properly process the requests and send them to the real server pool. This can be done by using the either the arptables_jf or the IPTables packet filtering tool. For more information on using arptables in a direct routing LVS environment, refer to Section 4.2.1, “Direct Routing and arptables_jf” or Section 4.2.2, “Direct Routing and IPTables”.


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