Configuring Failover

Introduction

Failover feature provides maximum possible uptime for the Userful server. Failover requires two Userful servers to be located on the same subnet; if that is the case, then if the Primary server fails, the Secondary server takes over the network receiver devices of the Primary i.e. failed server.

This page outlines the best practices and steps to take when preparing for and executing failover procedures using network receiver devices.

This feature is not applicable for USB receiver devices since USB receiver devices will be connected to a specific Userful server only. For the Unlicensed version of Userful, all features will work with the nag screen.

Requirements

Before configuring failover group, following requirements and caveats must be met:

1. Primary-Secondary Relationship

Although all members in the failover group are equivalent; we still suggest that user should indicate one server as the Primary and the other as the Secondary
Primary is the server with assigned display(s) that is configured and added first when a failover group is created.
Secondary is the server without any assigned display(s) but only with the onboard display running.

2. Same Hardware Specifications
Both Userful servers should have similar hardware specifications.

3. Same Working Environment
Both Userful servers should have an identical version of all the software packages (especially the "userful-control-center" package).

4. Same Media Content
Any local content must be added manually to both servers and CMS subscription may be required for both servers.

Enable Failover

The first step in setting failover group is to Enable Failover on the Primary server.

  1. Open Control Center > Settings > Failover Group Settings.
  2. Select Enable Failover.
  3. Allow Control Center to restart.
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Define Failover Group

The next step is to define the failover group, i.e. the failover relation among two servers.

   Follow the below mentioned steps to define failover group:

  1. Open Control Center of the Primary server.
  2. Go to Settings > Failover Group Settings.
  3. Enter the Group Name and click Create Group to create a new group.
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An active Maintenance and Support contract is required to create a Failover group, but any server can join the Failover group as a Secondary server irrespective of the (i.e., valid or expired) status of the Maintenance and Support contract.

Once the failover group is created, the name of the "Primary" server will be listed under "Servers".

Any server can join the Failover group as a Secondary server irrespective of the (i.e., valid or expired) status of the Maintenance and Support contract.

 Select the Failback Setting to be "Automatic" or "Manual" depending on the use case.

"Failback" occurs once the Primary server comes back online where the failed over displays from the Secondary server will be re-assigned back to the Primary server. This failback can happen automatically or manually as mentioned above.

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Assigning a Backup Server

Log in to your backup server and follow the below steps:
  1. Open Control Center.
  2. Go to Settings > Failover Group Settings
  3. Select Enable Failover and allow Control Center to restart.
  4. Go back to Failover Group Settings.
  5. Add your backup server to the group you created earlier by selecting Join an existing group and selecting the desired group from the drop-down.
  6. Click Join Group button.
The newly added Secondary server is now listed under the list of servers.

Please note that joining an existing failover group will copy and overwrite current display mapping with the display mapping from the failover group's shared database.

When a new server is added to an existing failover group, all the sources and other settings of the "Primary" server gets copied to the newly added server automatically.

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Testing the Failover Process

  1. Ensure that the "Primary" server and "Secondary" server are both online under the same subnet
  2. Shutdown or unplug the network cable from the "Primary" server
  3. Within few seconds, the displays that were assigned to the Primary (failed) server will come back online; but these displays are now running on the "Secondary" server as failover displays.
    Please note that the failover displays have orange display icon with the display ID Failover Display2 Icon.png
  4. Reboot or plug the network cable back to the Primary server.
  5. Within few seconds, all failover displays will unassign from the "Secondary" server and restored back to the "Primary" server automatically or manually depending on the Failback Setting selected.
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Failover is designed to automatically transition to the designated Secondary server in the event of an unrecoverable failure of the Primary server. Restoration from the backup state is currently manual and some care must be taken when restoring the Primary server to ensure that the failback process is smooth.