A BOSH release for deploying PostgreSQL
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Latest commit 7a74e8a Oct 25, 2018


PostgreSQL, BOSH-Style

This BOSH release packages up PostgreSQL so that you can deploy it on BOSH. It supports standalone, clustered, and HA configurations.

Supported Topologies

Standalone Configuration

For a single, standalone PostgreSQL node, you only need the postgres job:

  - name: db
      - name:    postgres
        release: postgres

Clustered Configuration

To enable replication, deploy multiple nodes and set the postgres.replication.enabled property to "yes":

  - name: db
    instances: 4
      - name:    postgres
        release: postgres
            enabled: true

In replicated mode, the bootstrap VM will assume the role of master, and the remaining nodes will replicate from it, forming a star topology. No special query routing is done in this configuration; applications that wish to make use of read replicas must do so explicitly.

Promotion of a replica is left to the operator.

HA Configuration

For a highly-available, single-IP pair of PostgreSQL nodes, the vip job can be added. Note that you must deploy exactly two instances, or HA won't work. Replication must also be enabled.

  - name: db
      - name:    postgres
        release: postgres
            enabled: true   # don't forget this!

      - name:    vip
        release: postgres

HA is implemented with automatic failover, if you set postgres.replication.enabled to true.

On bootstrap, if there is no data directory, the postgres job will revert to a normal, index-based setup. The first node will assume the role of the master, and the second will become a replica.

Once the data directory has been populated, future restarts of the postgres job will attempt to contact the other node to see if it is a master. If the other node responds, and reports itself as a master, the local node will attempt a pg_basebackup from the master and assume the role of a replica.

If the other node doesn't respond, or reports itself as a replica, the local node will keep trying, for up to postgres.replication.grace seconds, at which point it will assume the mantle of leadership and become the master node, using its current data directory as the canonical truth.

Each node then starts up a monitor process; this process is responsible for ultimately promoting a local replica to be a master, in the event that the real master goes offline. It works like this:

  1. Busy-loop (via 1-second sleeps) until the local postgres instance is available on its configured port. This prevents monitor from trying to restart the postgres while it is running a replica pg_basebackup.

  2. Busy-loop (again via 1-second sleeps) for as long as the local postgres is a master.

  3. Busy-loop (again via 1-second sleeps), checking the master status of the other postgres node, until it detects that either the master node has gone away (via a connection timeout), or the master node has somehow become a replica.

  4. Promote the local postgres node to a master.

Intelligent routing can be done by colocating the haproxy and keepalived jobs on the instance groups with postgres. HAproxy is configured with an external check that will only treat the master postgres node as healthy. This ensures that either load balancer node will only ever route to the write master.

The keepalived node trades a VRRP VIP between the haproxy instances. This ensures that the cluster can be accessed over a single, fixed IP address. Each keepalived process watches its own haproxy process; if it notices haproxy is down, it will terminate, to allow the VIP to transgress to the other node, who is assumed to be healthy.

It is possible to "instance-up" a single postgres node deploy to a HA cluster by adding the vip job and changing postgres instances to 2. More information about this can be found in manifests/ha.yml

For backup purposes, a route is exposed through haproxy which routes directly to the read-only replica for backup jobs. By default it is port 7432, but is also configurable via vip.readonly_port

Here's a diagram:

High Availability Diagram

The following parameters affect high availability:

  • postgres.replication.enabled - Enables replication, which is necessary for HA. Defaults to false.

  • postgres.replication.grace - How many seconds to wait for the other node to report itself as a master, during boot. Defaults to 15.

  • postgres.replication.connect_timeout - How many seconds to allow a psql health check to attempt to connect to the other node before considering it a failure. The lower this value, the faster your cluster will failover, but the higher a risk of accidental failover and split-brain. Defaults to 5.

  • postgres.replication.psql_error_count - How many failed PSQL commands allowed before considering it a failure. The health checks are PSQL commands executed every second. Poor network conditions may result in a "Connection dropped" PSQL error. The lower this value, the higher potential for accidental failover and split-brain. Defaults to 3.

  • vip.readonly_port - Which port to access the read-only node of the cluster. Defaults to 7542.

  • vip.vip - Which IP to use as a VIP that is traded between the two nodes.

HA Failure Modes

Our HA solution is focused on preventing downtime in the face of upgrades or other single-node failure. As such, we do not attempt to solve scenarios where the two databases cannot communicate with one another (e.g. network partition). In this case, it is possible that the replica believes the master to be down, and will promote itself to be master. The Postgres servers are then in a state of "split-brain" and requests to the DB will be split between the two nodes.

To mitigate this, each node checks to see who is master. If both nodes are master (split-brain), both immediately shut down to prevent inconsistent data states. This will result in downtime. But we believe downtime is preferable over inconsistent database states.

However, this mitigation is not a silver bullet; it is possible that prolonged network outage between the two nodes will prevent them from checking who is master, and will continue to operate in split-brain fashion. We do not attempt to solve this.

Recovery From Failure Mode

After the database has been validated, and a node to become master is chosen, SSH into the node via bosh ssh postgres/# and then execute /var/vcap/jobs/postgres/bin/recover as root. This node will then become master.

Once the script executes successfully, then SSH into the other node via bosh ssh postgres/# and then execute /var/vcap/jobs/postgres/bin/recover as root. This node will then replicate from the new master.

You will now have a nominal Postgres running.