Active-Active vs. Active-Passive High-Availability Clustering

An active-active high availability cluster distributes workloads evenly across all nodes, ensuring load balancing. An active-passive setup involves not all nodes being active, with the other node(s) on standby to take over if the active node fails, ensuring service continuity without load distribution.

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Active-Active High Availability Cluster

An active-active cluster typically comprises at least two nodes, both actively running the same kind of service simultaneously. The primary purpose of an active-active cluster is to achieve load balancing. Load balancing distributes workloads across all nodes to prevent any single node from getting overloaded. Because more nodes are available to serve, there will also be a marked improvement in throughput and response times.

The setup below, which consists of a load balancer and two HTTP servers (ex., two nodes), is an example of this type of HA cluster configuration. Instead of connecting directly to an HTTP server, web clients go through the load balancer, which connects each client to any of the HTTP servers behind it.

Assigning clients to the nodes in the cluster isn't an arbitrary process. Instead, it's based on which load balancing algorithm is set on the load balancer. So, for example, in a "Round Robin" algorithm, the first client to connect is sent to the first server, the second client goes to the second server, the third client goes back to the first server, the fourth client goes back to the second server, and so on. We'll elaborate more on these algorithms in a future post.



For the disaster recovery cluster to operate seamlessly, we recommend configuring the two nodes for redundancy. In other words, their configurations/settings must be virtually identical.

If you're interested, the tutorial How to Setup High Availability File Transfer Servers explains how to achieve redundancy between two MFT servers.

Another thing to remember is that a cluster like this works best when the nodes store files in a shared storage like a NAS. Read Setting Up a NAS Shared Storage for Your File Transfer Servers for more information.

Active-Passive High Availability Cluster

Like the active-active cluster configuration, an active-passive cluster also consists of at least two nodes. However, as "active-passive" implies, not all nodes will be active. In the case of two nodes, for example, if the first node is already active, the second node must be passive or on standby.

The passive (failover) server serves as a backup ready to take over as soon as the active (primary) server gets disconnected or cannot serve, an active-passive failover for when a node fails.


Active passive high availability cluster

When clients connect to a two-node cluster in active-passive configuration, they only connect to one server. In other words, all clients will connect to the same server. Like in the active-active configuration, the two servers must have the same settings (ex. redundant).

If changes are made to the settings of the primary server, those changes must be cascaded to the failover server. So when the failover does take over, the clients won't be able to tell the difference.

Get Started

JSCAPE has two products that enable you to set up an active-active or active-passive (or even a combination of both) failover configuration.

  • The first product is the JSCAPE MFT Server, a managed file transfer server that supports several file transfer protocols, including FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, WebDAV, OFTP, AS2, AFTP, and others. Also, it's platform-agnostic and can be installed on Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Solaris.
  • The second product is JSCAPE MFT Gateway, a server application that functions as a reverse proxy and a load balancer. It can provide the load balancing function in an active-active configuration. MFT Gateway supports multiple load balancing algorithms, including Round Robin, Weighted Round Robin, Random, Least Connections, and Weighted Least Connections.

  • Want to see high-availability clusters in action and discover how they can enhance your file transfer infrastructure? Schedule a demo with JSCAPE today and explore how our MFT Server and MFT Gateway can provide the robustness and reliability your business needs.

Get Your Free Trial

Would you like to try this yourself? JSCAPE MFT Server is platform-agnostic and can be installed on Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and Solaris. It can handle any file transfer protocol and multiple protocols from a single server. Additionally, JSCAPE enables you to handle any file type, including batch files and XML.

Download your free 7-day trial of JSCAPE MFT Server now by clicking the link below. 

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