Kaspersky Lab patents method for fail-proof operation of applications on a server cluster
03 Mar 2014
Corporate News, Product news
Kaspersky Lab has patented a method for maintaining the reliable operation of applications in distributed computing environments. Patent 8639818 issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describes a method for ensuring the fail-proof operation of an application, copies of which are installed on several servers on the cluster and should work together.
Corporate systems serving a large number of users, such as mail servers and databases, often operate on several servers forming a cluster. This structure can provide the system with more resources, but at the same time it needs a mechanism for redistributing tasks should one or more nodes fail. This is particularly important for those tasks that are run on one node only and are not duplicated on other nodes. Although a dedicated management server may be used to control the cluster, the entire system’s operation is jeopardized if that server fails.
The new patent describes a method for maintaining a fail-safe operation of a cluster without using a central node. If one of the servers in a distributed environment fails, others will take over its tasks. Decentralization guarantees that the system will remain operational as long as at least one of the nodes is operational.
An important part of the newly patented technology is a counter which measures time based on an algorithm that is the same for all the servers in the system. Thanks to the counter, the method remains effective even if the clocks on different servers are inaccurate or not synchronized. Once in a certain time period defined by the algorithm, each of the cluster nodes updates its counter’s value, storing the new value in a shared database. The server also checks at this time whether the counters for other nodes have been updated on time. If one of the counters has stopped updating, the relevant node is considered to have failed and its tasks are transferred to the server which was the first to detect the failure.
This technology is currently implemented in a security solution called Kaspersky Security for Microsoft SharePoint Server, in which it helps to protect the SharePoint corporate collaboration platform. As of early February 2014, Kaspersky Lab’s intellectual property portfolio included 190 patents issued in the US, Russia, EU and China. Another 246 patent applications have been filed with patent authorities.