Standalone FortiGates or FGCP clusters can be integrated into the load balancing configuration using the FortiGate Session Life Support Protocol (FGSP) in a network where traffic is load balanced by an upstream load balancer and scanned by downstream FortiGates. FGSP can perform session synchronization of IPv4 and IPv6 TCP, SCTP, UDP, ICMP, expectation, and NAT sessions to keep the session tables synchronized on all entities. If one of the FortiGates fails, the upstream load balancer should detect the failed member and stop distributing sessions to it. Session failover occurs and active sessions fail over to the peers that are still operating. Traffic continues to flow on the new peer without data loss because the sessions are synchronized.
The FortiGates in FGSP operate as peers that process traffic and synchronize sessions. An FGSP deployment can include two to 16 standalone FortiGates, or two to 16 FortiGate FGCP clusters of two members each. Adding more FortiGates increases the CPU and memory required to keep all of the FortiGates synchronized, and it increases network synchronization traffic. Exceeding the numbers of members is not recommended and may reduce overall performance. By default, FGSP synchronizes all IPv4 and IPv6 TCP sessions, and IPsec tunnels. You can optionally add filters to control which sessions are synchronized, such as synchronizing packets from specific source and destination addresses, source and destination interfaces, or services.
All FortiGates in the FGSP deployment must be the same model and be running the same firmware version. FGSP is also compatible with FortiGate VRRP.
FGSP is primarily used instead of FGCP when external load balancers are part of the topology, and they are responsible for distributing traffic amongst the downstream FortiGates. FGSP provides the means to synchronize sessions between the FortiGate peers without needing a primary member to distribute the sessions like in FGCP active-active mode. If the external load balancers direct all sessions to one peer, the effect is similar to active-passive FGCP HA. If external load balancers balance traffic to both peers, the effect is similar to active-active FGCP HA. The load balancers should be configured so that all packets for any given session are processed by the same peer, including return packets whenever possible.
Session pickup is an optional setting that can be enabled to synchronize connectionless (UDP and ICMP) sessions, expectation sessions, and NAT sessions. If session pickup is not enabled, the FGSP does not share session tables for the particular session type, and sessions do not resume after a failover. All sessions are interrupted by the failover and must be re-established at the application level. Many protocols can successfully restart sessions with little, or no, loss of data. Others may not recover as easily. Enable session pickup for sessions that may be difficult to reestablish. Since session pickup requires FortiGate memory and CPU resources, only enable this feature for sessions that need to synchronize.
The session synchronization link is an optional configuration that allows peers to synchronize sessions over a dedicated interface instead of the interface in which the peer IP is routed. In this configuration, communications occur over L2 instead of L3. Configuring session synchronization links is recommended when you want to minimize traffic over the peering interface when there are many sessions that need to be synchronized.
FortiOS session helpers keep track of the communication of layer 7 protocols, such as FTP and SIP, that have control sessions and expectation sessions. The control sessions establish the link between the server and client, and negotiate the ports and protocols that will be used for data communications. The session helpers then create expectation sessions through the FortiGate for the ports and protocols negotiated by the control session.
The expectation sessions are the sessions that actually communicate data. For FTP, the expectation sessions transmit files being uploaded or downloaded. For SIP, the expectation sessions transmit voice and video data. Expectation sessions usually have a timeout value of 30 seconds. If the communication from the server is not initiated within 30 seconds, the expectation session times out and traffic will be denied.
By default, FGSP does not synchronize expectation sessions; if a failover occurs, the sessions will have to be restarted.
config system ha set session-pickup enable set session-pickup-expectation enable end
The following topics provide more information about FGSP:
- FGSP basic peer setup
- Synchronizing sessions between FGCP clusters
- Session synchronization interfaces in FGSP
- UTM inspection on asymmetric traffic in FGSP
- UTM inspection on asymmetric traffic on L3
- Encryption for L3 on asymmetric traffic in FGSP
- Optimizing FGSP session synchronization and redundancy
- IKE monitor for FGSP
- Firmware upgrades in FGSP