A minimum 3 NICs are required and will be broken down like so:

  • eth0 – Public / External Interface facing Internet
  • eth1 – Management interface used for Cluster sync.  Can also be used for security management server communication
  • eth2 – First internal interface.  Usually faces internal servers & load balancers.  Can be used for security management server communication

The Deployment launch template has a few fields which aren’t explained very well…

Security Management Server address

A static route to this destination via management interface will be created a launch time.  If the Security Management server is accessed via one of the internal interfaces, use a dummy address here such as 1.2.3.4/32 and add the static routes after launch.

SIC key

This is the password to communicate with the Security Management server. It can be set after launch, but if already known, it can be set here to be pre-configured at launch

Automatically generate an administrator password

This will create a new random ‘admin’ user password to allow access to the WebGUI right after launch, which saves some time especially in situations were SSH is slow or blocked.

Note – SSH connections always require public key authentication, even with this enabled

Allow download from/upload to Check Point

This will allow the instance to communicate outbound to Checkpoint to check for updates.  It’s enabled by default on most CheckPoint appliances, so I’d recommend enabling this setting

Networking

This is the real catch, and a pretty stupid one.  The form fills out these three subnets:

  • “Cluster External Subnet CIDR” = 10.0.0.0/24
  • “Management external subnet CIDR” = 10.0.1.0/24
  • “1st internal subnet CIDR” = 10.0.2.0/24

If using an existing network, erase the pre-filled value and then select the appropriate networks in the drop-down menus like so:

GCP_Existing_VPCNetworks

Also, make sure all subnets have “Private Google Access” checked

Post-launch Configuration

After launch, access the gateways via SSH using public key and/or WebGUI to run through initial setup.  The first step is set a new password for the admin user:

set user admin password

set expert-password

Since eth1 rather than eth0 is the management interface, I would recommend setting that accordingly:

set management interface eth1

I would also recommend adding static routes. The deployment will create static routes for RFC 1918 space via the management interface.  If these need to be overridden to go via an internal interface the CLI command is something like this

set static-route NETWORK/MASK nexthop gateway address NEXTHOP_ADDRESS on

Before importing in to SmartConsole, you can test connectivity by trying to telnet to the security management’s server address on port 18191. Once everything looks good, don’t forget to save the configuration:

save config

Cluster Creation

In SmartConsole, create a new ClusterXL. When prompted for the cluster address, enter the primary cluster address.  The easy way to find this is look the the deployment result under Tools -> Deployment manager -> Deployments

CheckPoint_Deployment_ClusterIPExternalAddress

Then add the individual gateways with the management interface.   Walking through the wizard, you’ll need to define the type of each interface:

  • Set the first (external) interface to private use
  • Set the secondary (management) interface as sync/primary
  • Set subsequent interfaces as private use with monitoring.

Note the wizard tends to list the interfaces backwards: eth2, eth1, eth0

GCP_Clustering

After creation, there should be 3 settings on the cluster to modify:

  • Set to use NAT
  • Disable IP spoofing on all interfaces.
  • Set the VPN domain (optional).  By default, this is the 3 RFC 1918 CIDR blocks

Do a policy install on the new cluster, and a few minutes later, the GCP console should map the primary and secondary external IP addresses to the two instances

CheckPoint_GCP_External_IPAddresses

Failover

Failover is done via API call and takes roughly 15 seconds.

On the external network (front end), the primary and secondary firewalls will each get external IP address mapped.  CheckPoint calls these “primary-cluster-address” and “secondary-cluster-address”.  I’d argue “active” and “standby” would be better names, because the addresses will flip during a failover event.

On the internal network (back end0, failover is done by modifying the static route to 0.0.0.0/0.  The entries will be created on the internal networks when the cluster is formed.

Known Problems

The script $FWDIR/scripts/gcp_ha_test.py is missing

This is simply a mistake in CheckPoint’s documentation.  The correct file name is:

$FWDIR/scripts/google_ha_test.py

Deployment Fails with error code 504, Resource Error, Timeout expired

DeployFailure

Also, while the instances get created and External static IPs allocated, the secondary cluster IP never gets mapped and failover does not work.

Cause: there is a portion of the R80.30 deployment script relating to external IP address mapping that assumes the default service account is enabled, but many Enterprise customers will have default service account disabled as a security best practice.  As of January 2020, the only fix is to enable the default service account, then redo the deployment.

StackDriver is enabled at launch, but never gets logs

Same issue as a above.  As of January 2020, it depends on the default service account being enabled.