I woke up at 3am this morning, mentally alert and yet completely exhausted. It’s not the same as being tired; it’s a mind that steadfastly refuses to rest. Even while nary a thought crosses through that vast rift between empty instances, it bides time watching the eons drift by.
Ever since my [intlink id='adventures-in-server-sitting']previous foray into building a server[/intlink], I’v been trolling Lab Gopher for an upgrade. My preference would have been for a Dell PowerEdge R720xd 3.5-inch format since it could hold 12 full-size hard disks. But those are relatively rare and deals were scarce.
It’s about the time for year-end performance reviews. While I’m always afraid I’ll narrowly avoid being fired for gross incompetence, that’s not usually how it goes. But that meeting did remind me about a bit of restructuring I plan to impose for 2017 that should vastly improve database availability across our organization. Many of the techniques to accomplish that—while Postgres tools in our case—are not Postgres-specific concepts.
On a higher level, Postgres has a bevy of libraries, interfaces, and clients for accessing a database instance. From language APIs to GUIs like pgAdmin, or SaaS entries like JackDB, every flavor of interaction is covered. And yet, that’s only a small part of the story. For those who dare to tread into the watery depths, there’s also the world of dark incantations that is the command-line.
Postgres is a great tool for most databases. Larger installations however, pretty much require horizontal scaling; addressing multi-TB tables relies on multiple parallel storage streams thanks to the laws of physics. It’s how all immense data stores work, and for a long time, Postgres really had no equivalent that wasn’t a home-grown shard management wrapper. To that end, we’ve been considering Postgres-XL as a way to fill that role. At first, everything was going well. Performance tests showed huge improvements, initial deployments uncovered no outright incompatibilities, and the conversion was underway.
Then we started to use it.