High Availability

Intended audience: administrators

Availability refers to the ability of a system to mask or repair faults such that the cumulative service outage period does not exceed a required value over a specific time interval. Improve availability means minimize service outage time by mitigating faults.

Tactics to improve the availability

In order to improve the availability of Tango, a list of tactics could be used. Some of these are Tango functionality, others are best practices or suggested solutions. Using or not the different tactics depends on use cases.

Fault Detection

Before any system can take action regarding a fault, the presence of the fault must be detected. The tactic of Tango system to detect a fault are:

  • Ping: refers to an asynchronous exchange of message between nodes, in order to determine if the pinged component is alive and responding properly. Tango Ping is performed by Astor, that contacts all the starters defined for given tango host, and each starter is pinging regularly (sending ping command) all the device servers of its host.

  • Monitor is a component that is used to monitor the health status of a host (monitoring processor, process and so on). Astor is used to monitor the status of device servers (running/starting/not running). The device servers are grouped by host in a tree. Several hosts can be listed in a branch of the tree. It is a good practice to put the not critical hosts in branches listed at the end of the tree. The last branches to be listed by Astor can be configured from “File → Ctrl System Preferences → Last Collections” in Astor. The status of a group of device servers is represented by different colours:

    • Red: Starter is not running or cannot be reached by Astor
    • Green: all device servers necessary (or critical) for the operation are running
    • Orange: at least one of the necessary (or critical) device server for the operation is not running
    • White: all starters are running and all device servers from this host are stopped (useful for a full restart of a big control system. “File→ Ctrl System Preferences → Starter starts servers at startup” option in Astor is very useful if one needs to restart all the computers of a big control system in a very short period of time without overloading the Tango database).
    • Blue: At least one device server is starting or stopping.

    One best practice is to use a different software system monitor (like Nagios) in order to monitor the status of the applications or resources (e.g. processor usage, disk load) and the network (e.g. congestion of a switch).

    It is also possible to develop a device server that monitors network and resources, as the network collisions, network errors, operating system and so on. If an anomaly is detected, a Tango alarm is sent.

  • Heartbeat: is a fault mechanism that sends a periodic message to ensure that the communication between the components works properly. Every Tango device server sends periodic messages (Tango heartbeat events) to all the clients interested in Tango events sent from this device server. Please refer to Device server process (Please note that the document has to be updated because it refers to the previous Tango event implementation using the Corba notification daemon).

  • Timestamp: a timestamp is associated with every Tango attribute value. For example, in order to help evaluating the latency in the storing of events, HDB++ stores the timestamp of the Tango attribute data, the timestamp when the HDB++ Event Subscriber received the event and the timestamp when the HDB++ Event Subscriber tried to store the data into the database.

  • Sanity checking: check the correctness and the validity of a specific operation or outputs of a component. Tango device server can change the attribute quality factor to invalid if the attribute value is not making sense in the current state

  • Condition Monitoring: is a best practice to change the state and status of the device or quality factor of an attribute to alarm when behaviour of the system is different than the expected conditions

  • Self-test: components can perform procedures to test themselves. By default Tango doesn’t implement self test, but a device server programmer could easily implements a self-test command or add a self-test during the init sequence of device.

Recovery from fault

Recovery from a fault is composed by a series of tactics that are concerned with reintroducing a failed component back into normal operation:

  • Replication: It is a good practice to replicate the Tango Database. One can use MySQL/MariaDb replication feature to automatically replicate the data to a spare MySQL/MariaDb server. Recovery is possible manually by exchanging the faulty MySQL/MariaDb server with its slave.

  • Redundancy: a best practice is to use the native redundancy for the database server, using MySQL NDB Cluster MySQL engine in order to remove the single point of failure.


    Tango provides the possibility to run several Tango Database Servers on the same control system. See: Multiple database servers….

    It is also a good solution that the redundancy of the device servers is managed by the programmer based on the use cases.

  • Exception Handling/Retry: Once a fault has been detected, the system has to handle it. Tango uses the tactic of retry. (AutoRestartDuration property of the starter device). The Starter can automatically restart a device server in case of failure.

  • Ignore Faulty Behaviour/Degradation: In case of database failure, all the clients and the device servers already connected together continue to communicate until they need to access to the database (in case of reconnection, if the server needs to write a new property or to memorize an attribute)

Prevent Fault

  • Exception prevention: A good solution is using a software system monitor to collect monitoring data in order to analyse the trend of the normal behaviour and extract information that helps the prevention of fault.


    Tango will automatically change the attribute quality factor to WARNING or ALARM and eventually change the state of the device to ALARM if the attribute value is reaching the warning or alarm levels defined via min_alarm, max_alarm, min_warning and max_warning attribute properties. This feature can be used to raise alarms for instance or some specific software could be developed to monitor the state of the device or the quality factor of a specific attribute and eventually automatically intent a recovery procedure.