By default, connection failover handling is left to the user. The application is responsible for checking return values of the database functions it calls and reacting to possible errors. If, for example, the plugin recognizes a query as a read-only query to be sent to the slave servers, and the slave server selected by the plugin is not available, the plugin will raise an error after not executing the statement.
Default: manual failover
It is up to the application to handle the error and, if required, re-issue the query to trigger the selection of another slave server for statement execution. The plugin will make no attempts to failover automatically, because the plugin cannot ensure that an automatic failover will not change the state of the connection. For example, the application may have issued a query which depends on SQL user variables which are bound to a specific connection. Such a query might return incorrect results if the plugin would switch the connection implicitly as part of automatic failover. To ensure correct results, the application must take care of the failover, and rebuild the required connection state. Therefore, by default, no automatic failover is performed by the plugin.
A user that does not change the connection state after opening a connection may activate automatic failover. Please note, that automatic failover logic is limited to connection attempts. Automatic failover is not used for already established connections. There is no way to instruct the plugin to attempt failover on a connection that has been connected to MySQL already in the past.
The failover policy is configured in the plugins configuration file, by using the failover configuration directive.
Automatic and silent failover can be enabled through the failover configuration directive. Automatic failover can either be configured to try exactly one master after a slave failure or, alternatively, loop over slaves and masters before returning an error to the user. The number of connection attempts can be limited and failed hosts can be excluded from future load balancing attempts. Limiting the number of retries and remembering failed hosts are considered experimental features, albeit being reasonable stable. Syntax and semantics may change in future versions.
Please note, since version 1.5.0 automatic failover is disabled for the duration of a transaction if transaction stickiness is enabled and transaction boundaries have been detected. The plugin will not switch connections for the duration of a transaction. It will also not perform automatic and silent failover. Instead an error will be thrown. It is then left to the user to handle the failure of the transaction. Please check, the trx_stickiness documentation how to do this.
A basic manual failover example is provided within the error handling section.
Using weighted load balancing, introduced in PECL/mysqlnd 1.4.0, it is possible to configure standby servers that are sparsely used during normal operations. A standby server that is primarily used as a worst-case standby failover target can be assigned a very low weight/priority in relation to all other servers. As long as all servers are up and running the majority of the workload is assigned to the servers which have hight weight values. Few requests will be directed to the standby system which has a very low weight value.
Upon failure of the servers with a high priority, you can still failover to the standby, which has been given a low load balancing priority by assigning a low weight to it. Failover can be some manually or automatically. If done automatically, you may want to combine it with the remember_failed option.
At this point, it is not possible to instruct the load balancer to direct no requests at all to a standby. This may not be much of a limitation given that the highest weight you can assign to a server is 65535. Given two slaves, of which one shall act as a standby and has been assigned a weight of 1, the standby will have to handle far less than one percent of the overall workload.
Failover and primary copy
Please note, if using a primary copy cluster, such as MySQL Replication, it is difficult to do connection failover in case of a master failure. At any time there is only one master in the cluster for a given dataset. The master is a single point of failure. If the master fails, clients have no target to fail over write requests. In case of a master outage the database administrator must take care of the situation and update the client configurations, if need be.