Speaker Interview - Gunnar Bluth

An overview of PostgreSQL's backup, archiving and replication
Gunnar "Nick" Bluth

Devroom, 2017/02/05, 16:00 - 16:50

Could you please introduce yourself? What is your relationship with the PostgreSQL Project? —  My name is Gunnar Bluth, but everyone just calls me "Nick". I'm aware that that's about the worst possible nickname when you're on the internet, but when I got it, people were still using mailboxes...

I've been using PostgreSQL since the 7.x days (maybe even 6.x, don't remember exactly and totally love it; I've never looked back. Since Prague, I've been attending all PGConf.eu conferences and met quite a few community members by now. Some of them I'd even call friends I also partake in some mailing lists (-admin, -performance) and the IRC channels when I find time & energy.

I've been doing occasional PostgreSQL consulting and training jobs for the last ~10 years or so, and since 2015, my $DAYJOB is also PG-related; I'm a DBA at ELSTER, the German system for electronic tax declaration.

What will you be talking about? —  I'll give an overview of the different options PG offers for backup and replication, pointing out some caveats that are not obvious from the docs.

How did you come up with the idea for this talk? —  I ran into an issue myself (which turned out to be an "error 50" though), which led to a dive into the source and a rather lengthy discussion on the -docs mailing list. So, realising there's more to it than meets the eye, I decided to file a talk on the topic.

No one likes backups, everyone wants restore! What is the worst scenario you have experienced in terms of backup? —  Actually, it was a restore. Some contractor activated a script on the last day of his assignment (which happened to be a Friday afernoon), and over the weekend a few dozen Solaris machines were restored. With a Red Hat backup...

Is "backup" just for DBAs, or are other stakeholders involved as well? —  Well, "backup" as such is obviously involving more stakeholders (e.g. the student changing the tapes . Most full-time DBAs hopefully have that field covered quite well already. However, I'm pretty sure some of them just adapted what they do with other DBM systems, which might not be the ideal approach. And it is marvellous what some people deem to be a decent backup approach! "Part-time" (aka. "devops") DBAs and esp. newbies to PostgreSQL are a different story; they will certainly learn a few things and get some new ideas.

Have you been to FOSDEM or FOSDEM PGDay before? —  I think so... I remember saying "Ok, but just for one beer!". And that city looked like Brussels.