You can use Network Address Translation (NAT) routing or direct routing with LVS. The following sections briefly describe NAT routing and direct routing with LVS.
Figure 1.22, “LVS Implemented with NAT Routing”, illustrates LVS using NAT routing to move requests between the Internet and a private network.
Figure 1.22. LVS Implemented with NAT Routing
In the example, there are two NICs in the active LVS router. The NIC for the Internet has a real IP address on eth0 and has a floating IP address aliased to eth0:1. The NIC for the private network interface has a real IP address on eth1 and has a floating IP address aliased to eth1:1. In the event of failover, the virtual interface facing the Internet and the private facing virtual interface are taken over by the backup LVS router simultaneously. All the real servers on the private network use the floating IP for the NAT router as their default route to communicate with the active LVS router so that their abilities to respond to requests from the Internet is not impaired.
In the example, the LVS router's public LVS floating IP address and private NAT floating IP address are aliased to two physical NICs. While it is possible to associate each floating IP address to its physical device on the LVS router nodes, having more than two NICs is not a requirement.
Using this topology, the active LVS router receives the request and routes it to the appropriate server. The real server then processes the request and returns the packets to the LVS router. The LVS router uses network address translation to replace the address of the real server in the packets with the LVS routers public VIP address. This process is called IP masquerading because the actual IP addresses of the real servers is hidden from the requesting clients.
Using NAT routing, the real servers can be any kind of computers running a variety operating systems. The main disadvantage of NAT routing is that the LVS router may become a bottleneck in large deployments because it must process outgoing and incoming requests.
Direct routing provides increased performance benefits compared to NAT routing. Direct routing allows the real servers to process and route packets directly to a requesting user rather than passing 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.
Figure 1.23. LVS Implemented with Direct Routing
In a typical direct-routing LVS configuration, an LVS router receives incoming server requests through a virtual IP (VIP) and uses a scheduling algorithm to route the request to real servers. Each real server processes requests and sends responses directly to clients, bypassing the LVS routers. Direct 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.
While there are many advantages to using direct routing in LVS, there are limitations. The most common issue with direct routing and LVS 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 broadcast 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 configuration 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 router must also be associated to a MAC. However, because both the LVS router and the real servers have the same VIP, the ARP request is broadcast to all the nodes 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 configuration. Using an LVS router with a powerful CPU that can respond quickly to client requests does not necessarily remedy this issue. If the LVS router is under heavy load, it may respond to the ARP request more slowly than an underutilized real server, which responds more quickly 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 arptables packet-filtering tool.