PostgreSQL 9 High Availability Cookbook

Packt Publishing asked me to review Shaun Thomas’ PostgreSQL 9 High Availability Cookbook, so, here it is.

Executive summary: I like it.

Unlike too many computer books these days, this hasn’t been written by somebody who barely manages to string a sentence together in English and whose ‘knowledge’ in the subject comprises reformatting the manual. Shaun clearly does this stuff every day. He has been there. He has done that. And he has got the tee-shirt.

I have to say that I’m a great fan of the cookbook style – starting with the first I bought for my bookshelf many moons ago – the Perl Cookbook.

Another thing that gained my trust in the book is that it’s based on the assumption that you’re running your server on Linux. That’s a breath of fresh air not to have the book padded out with distracting, irrelevant fluff about Windows. If you are a Windows fan, you have my deepest condolences, and this book is not for you.

Shaun’s book starts off with the very practical matters of sizing and specifying the kit that you are going to need to run your HA PostgreSQL system on. I love the second chapter – Handling and Avoiding Downtime. You are going to get problems, stuff will stop working. How to handle it separates amateurs from pros. Shaun covers this from understanding the commercial perspective (Service Level Agreements) through to the practical measures to put in place in your PostgreSQL installation when things go bad. Of course there are chapters on pooling resources, clustering, sharding and replication. Monitoring advice is based on the rock-solid, de-facto standard Nagios.

This book shows that one of the last bastions of Oracle fanbois, High Availability, is pretty much defeated with free software and that, with care, a successful deployment is within anybody’s reach.