Kea  2.1.2-git
DHCP Database Back-Ends

All DHCP lease data is stored in some form of database, the interface to this being through the Lease Manager.

All backend classes such as isc::dhcp::MySqlLeaseMgr are derived from the abstract isc::dhcp::LeaseMgr class. This provides methods to create, retrieve, modify and delete leases in the database.

There are currently three available Lease Managers, Memfile, MySQL and PostgreSQL:

  • Memfile is an in-memory lease database which can be configured to persist its content to disk in a flat-file. Support for the Memfile database backend is built into Kea DHCP.
  • The MySQL lease manager uses the freely available MySQL as its backend database. This is not included in Kea DHCP by default: the --with-mysql switch must be supplied to "configure" for support to be compiled into the software.
  • The PostgreSQL lease manager uses the freely available PostgreSQL as its backend database. This is not included in Kea DHCP by default: the --with-pgsql switch must be supplied to "configure" for support to be compiled into the software.

Instantiation of Lease Managers

A lease manager is instantiated through the LeaseMgrFactory class. This has three methods:

The selection of the Lease Manager (and thus the backend database) is controlled by the connection string passed to isc::dhcp::LeaseMgrFactory::create. This is a set of "keyword=value" pairs (no embedded spaces), each pair separated by a space from the others, e.g.

type=mysql user=keatest password=keatest name=keatest host=localhost

The following keywords are used for all backends:

  • type - specifies the type of database backend. The following values for the type keyword are supported:
    • memfile - In-memory database.
    • mysql - Use MySQL as the database. Must be enabled at compilation time.
    • postgresql - Use PostgreSQL as the database. Must be enabled at compilation time.
    • cql - Use Cassandra (CQL) as the database. Must be enabled at compilation time.

The following sections list the database-specific keywords:

MySQL connection string keywords

  • host - host on which the selected database is running. If not supplied, "localhost" is assumed.
  • name - name of the MySQL database to access. There is no default - this must always be supplied.
  • password - password for the selected user ID (see below). If not specified, no password is used.
  • user - database user ID under which the database is accessed. If not specified, no user ID is used - the database is assumed to be open.

For details, see isc::db::MySqlConnection::openDatabase().

PostgreSQL connection string keywords

  • host - host on which the selected database is running. If not supplied, "localhost" is assumed.
  • name - name of the PostgreSQL database to access. There is no default - this must always be supplied.
  • password - password for the selected user ID (see below). If not specified, no password is used.
  • user - database user ID under which the database is accessed. If not specified, no user ID is used - the database is assumed to be open.

For details, see isc::db::PgSqlConnection::openDatabase().

Cassandra (CQL) connection string keywords

  • contact-points - a list of comma separated IP addresses of the cluster contact points>
  • port - an integer specifying a connection port. If not specified, the default port will be used.
  • user - a database user name under which the database is accessed. If not specified, no user name is used - the database is assumed to be open.
  • password - an optional password if required for connection
  • keyspace - an optional keyspace. If not specified, the default value of 'keatest' will be used.

For details, see isc::db::CqlConnection::openDatabase().

Infinite Valid Lifetime

The isc::dhcp::Lease class uses cltt (client last transmission time) and valid lifetime, backend lease uses expire and valid lifetime. These quantities are bound by the equation:

expire = cltt + valid_lifetime

But when expire is a 32 bit date and valid lifetime is the infinity special value (0xffffffff) this overflows so for MySQL and PostgreSQL backends this becomes:

expire = cltt + valid_lifetime if valid_lifetime != 0xffffffff
expire = cltt if valid_lifetime == 0xffffffff

Host Backends

Host backends (known also as host data sources) are similar to lease backends with a few differences:

  • host backends are optional (so it is allowed to have none) because the first source of host reservations is the server configuration, others are alternate backends.
  • there may be more than one host backend. In such a case for lookups returning a collection all results are appended, for lookups returning at most one entry the first found is returned. Add operation is submitted to all alternate backends which can ignore it, add the entry or throw if the new entry conflicts with an already existing one. Delete operations are submitted in sequence to all alternate backends until one finds the entry, deletes it and returns true.
  • the first alternate backend can be a cache (host cache hook library is a premium feature) which avoids to lookup slow databases. For subnet ID and identifier negative caching is optionally supported.

Caching

Some of these considerations apply to lease backends too but only the host caching was analyzed and implemented.

Caching divides into two parts, positive and negative caching, and its support is implemented at two places, a cache backend and inside the host manager, i.e. the entity calling backends in sequence providing the result of lookups to allocation engines.

The idea of positive caching is simple: when a value not in the cache in returned by a database, this value is added to the cache so the next time it will be available without calling and waiting for the database.

This cannot be extended to lookups returning a collection because they are supposed to collect and append results from all backends. If you replace append by merge you avoid duplicate items in the result but still get no benefit from caching. So in general a cache backend should simply return nothing for these lookups.

Add (or any operation which can fail) has to wait that all backends are called and possibly one fails before the new entry being cached. Del is simpler: the cache backend processes it but always returns false so the backend holding it if any is called.

Negative caching consists into adding fake entries indicating that a particular host does not exists. As no host constructor allows a host object without an identifier or with an empty identifier, negative caching applies only to by identifier lookups. This is no a problem because out-of-pools provides a clearer and simpler to implement performance benefit than by address negative caching. Note that by identifier negative caching can be critical for performance because the non-existence is the worst case for lookups.

Negative cache entries should be easily identified (current implementation uses the negative_ flag member in host class) so all lookups returning at most one entry can (in fact have to) return a null pointer when they get a negative cache entry. Note this is for all such lookups, not only by identifier lookups, to allow to negative cached entries with any value, for instance with a IP address.

There is no direct and simple way to support negative caching for collection lookups so again cache backends should return nothing for these lookups which have not to filter out negative cached entries from result.

Negative caching can be performed by the host manager: when a by identifier lookup returns a null pointer, a fake entry with lookup parameters and the negative cache mark is inserted into the cache. Note this leads to negative cache entries without IP reservations, this property should not be used because it limits negative cache addition to only be performed by the host manager.

Multi-Threading Consideration for DHCP Database Backends

Lease and host database backends including the memfile for leases are Kea thread safe (i.e. are thread safe when the multi-threading mode is true). This extends to legal / forensic log backends but not to config backends which is used only for configuration by the main thread with packet processing threads stopped so has no thread safety requirements.

There are exceptions:

  • memfile constructor (including loading of leases from files) is not thread safe.
  • lfc handling in memfile is not thread safe: instead it is required to be called from the main thread.
  • wipe lease methods are either not thread safe or not implemented.

Note for statistics queries it does not make sense to call them with running packet processing threads so they have no thread safety guarantees.

Note too that the memfile backend is not inter-process safe so must be kept private to the Kea server using it.