2010
07.03

FortiGate firewall clusters group-id

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A newly installed FortiGate cluster (a simple two node HA active-passive setup) and some packet loss issues…
Ping from the LAN side to the Internet (or from the firewall itself) resulted in about 20% packet loss, while the other way around (WAN to firewall’s main public IP) didn’t work at all.

I used the following command to check my MAC addresses:

FORTIGATE-PRI # diagnose hardware deviceinfo nic wan1
[..]
Current_HWaddr                  00:09:0f:09:00:08
Permanent_HWaddr                00:09:0f:d1:be:ef
[..]

Then resorted to the “show mac” switches facilites (some Cisco, some ProCurve) to know on which network ports that particular MAC lied… Only to discover that the cluster’s “logical” MAC address (00:09:0f:09:00:08) wasn’t really located where I expected it to be.
Well, FortiGate’s MAC addresses aren’t randomly generated. They have predictable values that depend on the firewall’s port number. The eight port (or wan1, in my case) will always have a virtual MAC as the one above. What will happen if you have two clusters (as we had) sitting on the same L2 network segment (on the same broadcast domain, that is)? You said MAC address conflict? You’re right.
The solution is simple, use the group-id directive to tweak the logical MAC address, i.e.:

config system ha
    set group-id 10
end

Changes the second right-most bytes of the MAC, from 00 to 0a:

before  00:09:0f:09:00:08
after   00:09:0f:09:0a:08

Point is that the “FortiOS High Availablity Handbook” explains the case very thoroughly! See page 192, paragraph “Diagnosing packet loss with two FortiGate HA clusters in the same broadcast domain”. We’re so used to discardable product documentation that sometimes we don’t even try to look for clues where they should normally reside.
Instead of troubleshooting, this time, I should really have Read The (unexpectedly) Fine Manual…

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