Speaker Interview - Christophe Pettus

Corruption War Stories
Christophe Pettus

PGDay, 2017/02/03, 10:20 - 11:10

Could you please introduce yourself? What is your relationship with the PostgreSQL Project? —  I'm Christophe Pettus. I'm CEO of PostgreSQL Experts, Inc., a boutique PostgreSQL consultancy based out of San Francisco. I got involved with PostgreSQL back in the 7.1 days, looking for an alternative to Oracle... and I've never looked back.

"War Stories" sounds like straight from the movie "WarGames." What will you be talking about? —  Database corruption is everyone's worst nightmare, but each case of corruption is unique. I wanted to present specific cases of corruption and how we solved them, rather than talk about corruption in the abstract.

How did you come up with the idea for this talk? —  I presented a talk at a previous PGDay FOSDEM about corruption, but that one did not focus on specific instances of corruption, but general scenarios and how to avoid them and recover from them. I thought it would be interesting to dive into a few real-life situations, and show how we worked through them.

In your talk you show examples of database corruption. What is the worst scenario you have seen, so far? —  We've seem some truly horrific situations, but the worst one that we were actually able to recover from involved multiple destroyed underlying files in base/. We'll definitely talk about that one!

For a company, how can they avoid database corruption? —  First, of course, have a good backup and disaster recovery strategy; the easiest way to recover from any corruption scenario is to have a good backup. Most corruption is confined to just the primary or secondary of a primary / secondary pair, so being able to fail over to a secondary is important. Of course, have good hardware that you trust, and makes sure all parts of the storage chain actually honor fsync (or the appropriate primitive), and have appropriate clean shutdown in case of power failure.

Have you been to FOSDEM or FOSDEM PGDay before? —  Yes! This will be my fifth in a row. It's one of my favorite conferences.