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18.11.4. Determining the master node

The various clustered singleton management strategies all depend on the fact that each node in the cluster can independently react to changes in cluster membership and correctly decide whether it is now the “master node”. How is this done?

Prior to JBoss AS 4.2.0, the methodology for this was fixed and simple. For each member of the cluster, the HAPartition mbean maintains an attribute called the CurrentView, which is basically an ordered list of the current members of the cluster. As nodes join and leave the cluster, JGroups ensures that each surviving member of the cluster gets an updated view. You can see the current view by going into the JMX console, and looking at the CurrentView attribute in the jboss:service=DefaultPartition mbean. Every member of the cluster will have the same view, with the members in the same order.

Let's say, for example, that we have a 4 node cluster, nodes A through D, and the current view can be expressed as {A, B, C, D}. Generally speaking, the order of nodes in the view will reflect the order in which they joined the cluster (although this is not always the case, and should not be assumed to be the case.)

To further our example, let's say there is a singleton service (i.e., an HASingletonController) named Foo that's deployed around the cluster, except, for whatever reason, on B. The HAPartition service maintains across the cluster a registry of what services are deployed where, in view order. So, on every node in the cluster, the HAPartition service knows that the view with respect to the Foo service is {A, C, D} (no B).

Whenever there is a change in the cluster topology of the Foo service, the HAPartition service invokes a callback on Foo notifying it of the new topology. So, for example, when Foo started on D, the Foo service running on A, C and D all got callbacks telling them the new view for Foo was {A, C, D}. That callback gives each node enough information to independently decide if it is now the master. The Foo service on each node does this by checking if they are the first member of the view – if they are, they are the master; if not, they're not. Simple as that.

If A were to fail or shutdown, Foo on C and D would get a callback with a new view for Foo of {C, D}. C would then become the master. If A restarted, A, C and D would get a callback with a new view for Foo of {C, D, A}. C would remain the master – there's nothing magic about A that would cause it to become the master again just because it was before.