Milestone XProtect: The Simplest High Availability Cluster with Synchronous Replication and Failover

Milestone XProtect: The Simplest High Availability Cluster with Synchronous Replication and Failover

Evidian SafeKit brings high availability to Milestone XProtect, the CCTV video surveillance system. This article explains how to implement quickly a Milestone cluster with the management services, the event services and the Microsoft SQL Server database without shared disk and without the complexity of Microsoft cluster. The milestone.safe high availability module and a free trial are offered in the installation instructions section.

This clustering solution is recognized as the simplest to implement by our Milestone partners. It is also a complete solution that solves hardware failures (20% of problems) including the complete failure of a computer room, software failures (40% of problems) including smooth upgrade server by server and human errors (40% of problems) thanks to its simplicity.

Milestone XProtect high availability architecture with SafeKit clusters

Evidian SafeKit cluster - Milestone XProtect High Availability with Synchronous Replication and Failover
In the Milestone system architecture document, SafeKit clusters can be installed for high availability of:

All the services (SQL+Event+Management) can be installed on a single cluster and we consider this use case in this article. The configuration can also be easily split on several clusters.

High availability of recording servers are managed by the Milestone built-in solution and not by SafeKit. Failover of recording servers is explained in the following Milestone document. Recording services can be put on a single cluster with SafeKit but they will be managed by Milestone and not by SafeKit.

Note that Milestone offers a solution for recorders where duplication of storage is not necessary. If there is a failure of the main recorder, the standby recorder records  video data on its own storage. And when the main recorder restarts, the video data are transferred from the storage of the standby recorder to the storage of the main recorder.

If necessary, a duplication of the storage is possible if the same camera is set to record to two separate recording servers having their own storage system. So a camera will send its stream to recording server 1 and the same camera will send the same stream to recording server 2 to have fully redundant server/storage setup.

How the Evidian SafeKit software simply implements Milestone XProtect and SQL high availability with real-time synchronous replication and failover without shared disk

How the Evidian SafeKit mirror cluster implements Milestone XProtect and SQL high availability with synchronous replication and failover?

On the previous figure, the server 1/PRIM runs Milestone XProtect and SQL services (any edition). Users are connected to the virtual IP address of the mirror cluster. SafeKit replicates files opened by Milestone XProtect and SQL services in real time. Only changes in the files are replicated across the network, thus limiting traffic (byte-level file replication). Names of file directories containing Milestone XProtect and SQL services data are simply configured in SafeKit. There are no pre-requisites on disk organization for the two servers. Directories to replicate may be located in the system disk. SafeKit implements synchronous replication with no data loss on failure contrary to asynchronous replication.

In case of server 1 failure, there is an automatic failover on server 2 with restart of Milestone XProtect and SQL services. Then, when server 1 is restarted, SafeKit implements automatic failback with reintegration of data without stopping Milestone XProtect and SQL services on server 2. Finally, the system returns to synchronous replication between server 2 and server 1. The administrator can decide to swap the role of primary and secondary and return to a server 1 running Milestone XProtect and SQL services. The swap can also be done automatically by configuration.

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Installation of SafeKit for Milestone XProtect and SQL high availability with synchronous replication and failover

Package installation on Windows

On both Windows servers

Configuration instructions

The configuration is presented with the web console connected to 2 Windows servers.

Important: all the configuration is made from a single browser.

Launch the web console in a browser by connecting to http://localhost:9010 (next image)

Start the SafeKit web console for configuring the Milestone XProtect and SQL module

Enter IP address of the first node and click on Confirm (next image)

SafeKit web console - first node in the Milestone XProtect and SQL cluster

Click on New node and enter IP address of the second node (next image)

SafeKit web console - second node in the Milestone XProtect and SQL cluster

Click on the red floppy disk to save the configuration (previous image)

In the Configuration tab, click on milestone.safe then enter milestone as the module name and Confirm: next images with milestone instead of xxx

SafeKit web console - start configuration of Milestone XProtect and SQL module SafeKit web console - enter Milestone XProtect and SQL module name

Click on Validate (next image)

SafeKit web console - enter Milestone XProtect and SQL module nodes

Change the path of replicated directories only if necessary (next image) and enter a virtual IP address. A virtual IP address is a new unused IP address in the same IP network as the IP addresses of the two nodes. The virtual IP address automatically switches in case of failover.

SafeKit web console - enter Milestone XProtect and SQL parameters

For information:

Click on Validate (previous image)

SafeKit web console - stop the Milestone XProtect and SQL module before configuration the configuration

Click on Configure (previous image)

SafeKit web console - check the success green message of the Milestone XProtect and SQL configuration

Check the success green message on both servers and click on Next (previous image).

SafeKit web console - select the Milestone XProtect and SQL node with the up-to-date database

Select the node with the most up-to-date replicated directories and click on start it to make the first resynchronization in the right direction (previous image). Before this operation, we suggest you to make a copy of replicated directories before starting the cluster to avoid any errors.

SafeKit web console - the first Milestone XProtect and SQL node starts as primary and is alone

Start the second node (previous image) which becomes SECOND green (next image) after resynchronisation of all replicated directories (binary copy from node 1 to node 2).

SafeKit web console - the second Milestone XProtect and SQL node starts as SECOND

The cluster is operational with Milestone XProtect and SQL services running on the PRIM node and nothing running on the SECOND node (previous image). Only modifications inside files are replicated in real-time in this state.

Be careful, components which are clients of the Milestone XProtect and SQL services must be configured with the virtual IP address. The configuration can be made with a DNS name (if a DNS name has been created and associated with the virtual IP address).

Tests

Check with Windows Microsoft Management Console (MMC) that the Milestone XProtect and SQL services are started on the primary server and stopped on the secondary server.

Stop the PRIM node by scrolling down the menu of the primary node and by clicking on Stop. Check that there is a failover on the SECOND node. And check the failover of Milestone XProtect and SQL services with Windows Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

To understand what happens in the cluster, check the SafeKit logs of the primary server and the secondary server.

To see the module log of the primary server (next image):

SafeKit web console - Module Log of the PRIM Milestone XProtect and SQL server

To see the application log of the primary server (next image):

SafeKit web console - Application Log of the PRIM Milestone XProtect and SQL server

To see the logs of the secondary server (previous image), click on W12R2server75/SECOND (it will become blue) on the left side and repeat the same operations. In the secondary module log, you will find the volume and the reintegration time of replicated data.

Advanced configuration

In Advanced Configuration tab (next image), you can edit internal files of the module: bin/start_prim and bin/stop_prim and conf/userconfig.xml (next image on the left side). If you make change in the internal files here, you must apply the new configuration by a right click on the blue icon/xxx on the left side (next image): the interface will allow you to redeploy the modified files on both servers.

SafeKit web console - Advanced configuration of Milestone XProtect and SQL module

Configure boot start (next image on the right side) configures the automatic boot of the module when the server boots. Do this configuration on both servers once the high availability solution is correctly running.

SafeKit web console - Automatic boot of Milestone XProtect and SQL module

Support

For getting support on the call desk of https://support.evidian.com, get 2 Snaphots (2 .zip files), one for each server and upload them in the call desk tool (next image).

SafeKit web console - Milestone XProtect and SQL snaphots for support

Internal files of the Windows milestone.safe module

userconfig.xml

<!DOCTYPE safe>
<safe>
<service mode="mirror" defaultprim="alone" maxloop="3" loop_interval="24" failover="on">
  <!-- Heartbeat Configuration -->
  <!-- Names or IP addresses on the default network are set during initialization in the console -->
  <heart pulse="700" timeout="30000">
    <heartbeat name="default" ident="flow">
    </heartbeat>
  </heart>
  <!-- Virtual IP Configuration -->
  <!-- Replace
     * VIRTUAL_TO_BE_DEFINED by the name of your virtual server 
  -->
  <vip>
    <interface_list>
        <interface check="on" arpreroute="on"> 
	  <real_interface>
               <virtual_addr addr="VIRTUAL_TO_BE_DEFINED" where="one_side_alias" />
          </real_interface>
        </interface>
    </interface_list>
  </vip>
  <!-- Software Error Detection Configuration -->
  <errd polltimer="10">
    <!-- SQL Server process -->
    <proc name="sqlservr.exe" atleast="1" action="restart" class="prim" />
  </errd>
  <!-- File Replication Configuration -->
  <!-- Adapt with the directory of your SQL Server database and logs
  -->
  <rfs async="second" acl="off" nbrei="3">
	<replicated dir="C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA" mode="read_only" />
	<replicated dir="C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Log" mode="read_only" />
  </rfs>
  <!-- User scripts activation -->
  <user nicestoptimeout="300" forcestoptimeout="300" logging="userlog" />
</service>
</safe>

start_prim.cmd

@echo off

rem Script called on the primary server for starting application services 

rem For logging into SafeKit log use:
rem "%SAFE%\safekit" printi | printe "message"

rem stdout goes into Application log
echo "Running start_prim %*" 

set res=0

rem TODO: set to manual the start of services when the system boots

net start "MSSQLServer"
if not %errorlevel% == 0 (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "SQL Server (MSSQLServer) start failed"
) else (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "SQL Server (MSSQLServer) started"
)

net start "Milestone XProtect Management Server"
if not %errorlevel% == 0 (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "Milestone XProtect Management Server start failed"
) else (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "Milestone XProtect Management Server started"
)

net start "MilestoneEventServerService"
if not %errorlevel% == 0 (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "MilestoneEventServerService start failed"
) else (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "MilestoneEventServerService started"
)

net start "Milestone XProtect Data Collector Server"
if not %errorlevel% == 0 (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "Milestone XProtect Data Collector Server start failed"
) else (
  %SAFE%\safekit printi "Milestone XProtect Data Collector Server started"
)

set res=%errorlevel%

if %res% == 0 goto end

:stop
"%SAFE%\safekit" printe "start_prim failed"

rem uncomment to stop SafeKit when critical
rem "%SAFE%\safekit" stop -i "start_prim"

:end

stop_prim.cmd

@echo off

rem Script called on the primary server for stopping application services 

rem For logging into SafeKit log use:
rem "%SAFE%\safekit" printi | printe "message"

rem ----------------------------------------------------------
rem
rem 2 stop modes:
rem
rem - graceful stop
rem   call standard application stop with net stop
rem
rem - force stop (%1=force)
rem   kill application's processes
rem
rem ----------------------------------------------------------

rem stdout goes into Application log
echo "Running stop_prim %*" 

set res=0

rem default: no action on forcestop
if "%1" == "force" goto end

%SAFE%\safekit printi "Stopping Milestone XProtect Data Collector Server"
net stop "Milestone XProtect Data Collector Server" /y

%SAFE%\safekit printi "Stopping Milestone Event Server Service"
net stop "MilestoneEventServerService" /y

%SAFE%\safekit printi "Stopping Milestone XProtect Management Server"
net stop "Milestone XProtect Management Server" /y

%SAFE%\safekit printi "Stopping SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER)"
net stop "MSSQLSERVER" /y

rem Wait a little for the real stop of services
"%SAFEBIN%\sleep" 10

if %res% == 0 goto end

"%SAFE%\safekit" printe "stop_prim failed"

:end
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