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Using a Remote Server for NorthStar Planner

 

As of NorthStar 6.1.0, you can install NorthStar Controller with a remote Planner server (a server separate from the NorthStar application server), to distribute the NorthStar Operator and NorthStar Planner server loads. This also helps ensure that the processes of each do not interfere with the processes of the other. Both the web Planner and the desktop Planner application are then run from the remote server. Be aware that to work in NorthStar Planner, you must still log in from the NorthStar Controller web UI login page.

Note

Using a remote server for NorthStar Planner does not make NorthStar Planner independent of NorthStar Controller. As of now, there is no standalone Planner.

We recommend using a remote Planner server if any of the following are true:

  • Your network has more than 250 nodes

  • You typically run multiple concurrent Planner users and/or multiple concurrent Planner sessions

  • You work extensively with Planner simulations

In NorthStar HA cluster setups, there is one remote Planner server for the whole cluster. It is configured to communicate with the virtual IP of the cluster.

Process Overview: Installing and Configuring Remote Planner Server

Figure 1 shows the high level process you would follow to install NorthStar Controller with a remote Planner server. Installing and configuring NorthStar comes first. If you want a NorthStar HA cluster, you would set that up next. Finally, you would install and configure the remote Planner server. The text in italics indicates the topics in the NorthStar Getting Started Guide that cover the steps.

Figure 1: High Level Process Flow for Installing a Remote Planner Server
High Level Process
Flow for Installing a Remote Planner Server

Setting up the remote Planner server is a two-step process that you perform on the remote server:

  1. Run the remote Planner server installation script.

    This script prepares the remote server for the tasks that will be performed by the setup utility.

  2. Run the remote Planner server setup utility.

    This utility copies your NorthStar license file from the NorthStar Controller to the remote Planner, and restarts the necessary NorthStar processes on the Controller. It disables Planner components on the NorthStar Controller application server so they can be run from the remote server instead. It also ensures that communication between the application server and the remote Planner server works. In an HA scenario, you run the setup utility once for each application server in the cluster, ending with the active node.

The setup utility requires you to provide the IP addresses of the NorthStar application server (physical IP or in the case of HA deployment, both the physical and virtual IP addresses) and the remote Planner server. Also, you must enter your server root password for access to the application server.

Download the Software to the Remote Planner Server

The NorthStar Controller software download page is available at https://www.juniper.net/support/downloads/?p=northstar#sw.

  1. From the Version drop-down list, select the version number (6.1.0 or later support remote Planner server).
  2. Click the NorthStar Application (which includes the RPM bundle) to download it. You do not need to download the Junos VM to the remote Planner server.

Install the Remote Planner Server

On the remote Planner server, execute the following commands:

[root@remote-server~]# yum install <rpm-filename>
[root@remote-server~]# cd /opt/northstar/northstar_bundle_x.x.x/
[root@remote-server~]# ./install-remote_planner.sh

Run the Remote Planner Server Setup Utility

This utility (setup_remote_planner.py) configures the NorthStar application server and the remote Planner server so the processes are distributed correctly between the two and so the servers can communicate with each other.

Three scenarios are described here. The effects on certain NorthStar components on the NorthStar Controller (application server) are as follows:

Effect on Cassandra Database

Effect on Web Processes

Non-HA Setup

Use this procedure if you do not have a NorthStar HA cluster configured.

modified and restarted

modified and restarted

HA Active Node Setup

Use this procedure to configure the active node in your NorthStar HA cluster.

not modified and not restarted

modified and restarted

HA Standby Node Setup

Use this procedure to configure the standby nodes in your NorthStar HA cluster.

not modified and not restarted

modified, but not restarted

Non-HA Setup Procedure

The following procedure guides you through using the setup utility in interactive mode. As an alternative to interactive mode, you can launch the utility and enter the two required IP addresses directly in the CLI as follows:

You will be required to enter your server root password to continue.

If you use interactive mode:

  1. On the remote Planner server, launch the remote Planner server setup utility:
  2. Respond to the prompts. You’ll need to provide the IP addresses for the NorthStar application server and the remote Planner server, and your server root password. For example:
  3. The setup utility proceeds to configure the NorthStar Controller application server, configure the remote Planner server, test the Cassandra database connection, and check the Redis connection. The following sample output shows the progress you would see and indicates which processes end up on the application server and which on the remote Planner server. All processes should be RUNNING when the setup is complete.

HA Standby Node Setup

As in the non-HA scenario, you don’t have to use interactive mode for the setup script. You can launch the utility and enter the required IP addresses directly in the CLI as follows (three IP addresses in the case of cluster nodes):

Note

This is the same for both active and standby nodes. The setup utility automatically distinguishes between the two.

You will be required to enter your server root password to continue.

Whether you use interactive or direct CLI mode, you run the utility once for each standby node in the HA cluster, using the appropriate IP addresses for each node.

If you use interactive mode:

  1. On the remote Planner server, launch the remote Planner server setup utility:
  2. Respond to the prompts. You’ll need to provide both the virtual IP and physical IP addresses for the standby application node, the IP address for the remote Planner server, and your server root password. For example:
  3. The setup utility proceeds to configure the NorthStar Controller application server, configure the remote Planner server, test the Cassandra database connection, and check the Redis connection. The following sample output shows the progress you would see and indicates which processes end up on the application server and which on the remote Planner server. Because this is a standby node in an HA cluster configuration, it is normal and expected for some processes to be STOPPED when the setup is complete.

HA Active Node Setup

After you have completed the remote server setup for all the standby nodes, you are ready to run setup_remote_planner.py for the active node in the cluster.

If you launch the utility and enter the three required IP addresses directly in the CLI, it looks like this:

Note

This is the same for both active and standby nodes. The setup utility automatically distinguishes between the two.

You will be required to enter your server root password to continue.

If you use interactive mode:

  1. On the remote Planner server, launch the remote Planner server setup utility:
  2. Respond to the prompts. You’ll need to provide both the virtual IP and physical IP addresses for the active application node, the IP address for the remote Planner server, and your server root password. For example:
  3. The setup utility proceeds to configure the NorthStar Controller application server, configure the remote Planner server, test the Cassandra database connection, and check the Redis connection. The following sample output shows the progress you would see and highlights which processes end up on the application server and which on the remote Planner server. Because this is the active node in an HA cluster configuration, all processes should be RUNNING when the setup is complete.

Installing Remote Planner Server at a Later Time

An alternative to installing and setting up the remote Planner server when you initially install or upgrade NorthStar, is to add the remote Planner server later. In this case, be aware that because running setup_remote_planner.py in a non-HA scenario includes a restart of the Cassandra database, all existing Planner sessions should be saved and closed before starting the process. We recommend performing the setup during a maintenance window. In the case of a NorthStar cluster, the Cassandra database is not restarted.

In a network where remote Planner server is already installed and functioning, you might need to switch from one NorthStar Controller application server to another, such as if the server should go down. It’s also possible for the IP address of the application server to change, which would interrupt communication between the application server and the remote Planner server. In those situations, you need only run the setup_remote_planner.py utility again from the remote Planner server, entering the new IP address of the application server.