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Knowledgebase:
Certificate installation on DR Cluster with Replicated Security Database
04 January 2017 01:52 PM

Summary

MarkLogic stores all signed Certificates, private keys, and Certificate Authority Certificates inside the Security Database. The Security Database also stores Users, Passwords, Roles, Privileges, and many other Authentication related configurations. While setting up DR Cluster, many Administrators prefers to Replicate the Security Database to a DR (Disaster Recovery) cluster to avoid re-configuring DR cluster with Same User/Role/Privileges etc. 

Security Database Replication presents design challenges and issues while Accessing Application Servers on the DR cluster.

  • Certificates installed on the Master Cluster Security Database will get replicated to the DR cluster Security Database; However those Replicated Certificates are not useful to the DR Cluster, since Signed Certificates are typically tied to a single host (though exceptions include SAN and Wild Card Certificates).  
  • At the same time, since replicated databases are read-only, we are not able to install a new Signed Certificates on the DR Cluster as the replicated Security Database is read-only.

This article discusses the different aspect of the above problem and provides a solution.

Configuration: Security Database replicated to DR Cluster

For article discussion purpose, we will consider a 3 node Master cluster coupled to a 3 node DR cluster, where the Security DB is replicated from Master to DR Cluster. We will also have an Application Server configured attached to "DemoTemp1" Template in Master cluster. 

       DR Cluster         Master Cluster

Issues in DR Cluster.

Certificate Authentication based on CN field 

When client browsers connect to the application server using HTTPS, they check to make sure your SSL Certificate matches the host name in the address bar. There are three ways for browsers to find a match:

  1.    The host name (in the address bar) exactly matches the Common Name (CN) in the certificate's Subject.
  2.    The host name matches a Wildcard Common Name. For example, www.example.com matches the common name *.example.com.
  3.    The host name is listed in the Subject Alternative Name field.

The most common form of SSL name matching is the first option -  SSL client compares server name to the Common Name in the server's certificate. 

Since Temporary Signed Certificates have CN field of Master Cluster nodes, the Application Server on the DR Cluster will fail when used with the MarkLogic generated Temporary Signed Certificate.

Certificate Requests

When we attach Template on DR Cluster to any application server and generate a certificate request, MarkLogic Server will generates a Temporary Signed Certificate for all the nodes in Cluster in the Application Server Group.

DR Cluster    DR Cluster

To install Certificate Signed by 3rd party, replacing temporary Signed Certificate, we will need to generate a certificate requests. You can generate a certificate requests in MarkLogic for All nodes using the Request button under "Needed Certificate Request" on Certificate Template "Status" tab.

  • On the Master cluster, MarkLogic will generate 3 Certificate requests with CN field matching for each of 3 nodes. All 3 new Certificate Request are internally stored in the Security Database.
  • On the DR Cluster, Clicking Certificate Request will result in an ERROR, since the DR Cluster has a replicated Security Database that is in a Read-Only ("open replica") state i.e. security database updates arel not allowed.

Pending Certificate Requests

Each Certificate request are intended for specific individual nodes, as Certificate request originator will incorporate client FDQN into Certificate CN field while request generation. MarkLogic Server will use the hostname (which in most cases matches your FDQN) as the CN field value in the Certificate Request.

Certificate request generated on Master Cluster are stored in Security Database, which will get replicated to DR Cluster Security Database (as/when Security DB replication is configured); However Certificate requests generated on Master Cluster are not relevant to DR Cluster as they have Master Cluster nodes FQDN as CN Fields in them.

DR Cluster    DR Cluster

Solution

To install Signed Certificates intended for the DR Cluster, where Certificate CN field matches the FQDN of DR Cluster, we will need to install the DR cluster's Signed Certificates on the Master Cluster.  That certificate will then be replicated to the DR Cluster through the normal database replication of the Security database. 

Step 1. Generate Certificate Request (intended for DR nodes).

You would generate Certificate request using XQuery on QConsole against the Security database on the Master cluster itself, but the values used in your XQuery will be for DR/Replica Cluster nodes FQDN. For example, for the first node in DR Cluster "engrlab-130-026.engrlab.marklogic.com, you would run below Query from Query Console on any Node on Master Cluster against Security Database. We will change the FQDN value to each node and run Query total 3 times.

Step 2. Download Certificate Request and Get them Signed.

We should be able to see Certificate request pertaining to each nodes (for Master as well as DR Nodes) on Certificate Template status tab on Master Cluster GUI and DR Cluster GUI both. Download them and get them signed by the favorite Certificate Authority.

DR Cluster    DR Cluster

Step 3. Install All Signed Certificates (for Master + DR Nodes) on Master Cluster 

Install all Signed Certificates (including Cert intended for Replica Cluster) on Master Cluster Admin GUI Certificate Template Import tab. If we try to Install Certificates on DR/Replica cluster from Admin GUI, we will get XDMP-FORESTNOT --Forest Security not available: open replica Error. Our Application Server on the DR Cluster will find the appropriate Certificates for the node from the list of all Certificates. Below screenshot shows the status of Certificate Template from Master cluster as well as DR cluster (Both should be identical).

DR Cluster    DR Cluster

Step 4. Importing Pre-Signed Cert where Keys are generated outside of MarkLogic.

Please read "Import pre-signed Certificate and Key for MarkLogic HTTPS App Server" to import Certificate Req/Key generated outside of MarkLogic; For our purpose, we will need to import Certificates (and their respective Keys) for both Clusters (Master as well as DR/Replica) from the QConsole on Master Cluster itself.

Further Reading

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