Replica clusters

A replica cluster is an independent CloudNativePG Cluster resource that has the main characteristic to be in replica from another Postgres instance, ideally also managed by CloudNativePG. Normally, a replica cluster is in another Kubernetes cluster in another region. Replica clusters can be cascading too, and they can solely rely on object stores for replication of the data from the source, as described further down.

The diagram below - taken from the "Architecture" section containing more information about this capability - shows just an example of architecture that you can implement with replica clusters.

An example of multi-cluster deployment with a primary and a replica cluster

Basic concepts

CloudNativePG relies on the foundations of the PostgreSQL replication framework even when a PostgreSQL cluster is created from an existing one (source) and kept synchronized through the replica cluster feature. The source can be a primary cluster or another replica cluster (cascading replica cluster).

The first step is to bootstrap the replica cluster, choosing among one of the available methods:

  • streaming replication, via pg_basebackup
  • recovery from a volume snapshot
  • recovery from a Barman Cloud backup in an object store

Please refer to the "Bootstrap" section for information on how to clone a PostgreSQL server using either pg_basebackup (streaming) or recovery (volume snapshot or object store).

Once the replica cluster's base backup is available, you need to define how changes are replicated from the origin, through PostgreSQL continuous recovery. There are two options:

  • use streaming replication between the replica cluster and the source (this will certainly require some administrative and security related work to be done to make sure that the network connection between the two clusters are correctly setup)
  • use the WAL archive (on an object store) to fetch the WAL files that are regularly shipped from the source to the object store and pulled by barman-cloud-wal-restore in the replica cluster
  • any of the two

All you have to do is actually define an external cluster.

If the external cluster contains a barmanObjectStore section:

  • you'll be able to use the WAL archive, and CloudNativePG will automatically set the restore_command in the designated primary instance
  • you'll be able to bootstrap the replica cluster from an object store using the recovery section, in case you cannot take advantage of volume snapshots

If the external cluster contains a connectionParameters section:

  • you'll be able to bootstrap the replica cluster via streaming replication using the pg_basebackup section
  • CloudNativePG will automatically set the primary_conninfo option in the designated primary instance, so that a WAL receiver process is started to connect to the source cluster and receive data

The created replica cluster can perform backups in a reserved object store from the designated primary, enabling symmetric architectures in a distributed fashion.

You have full flexibility and freedom to decide your favorite distributed architecture for a PostgreSQL database by choosing:

  • a private cloud spanning over multiple Kubernetes clusters in different data centers
  • a public cloud spanning over multiple Kubernetes clusters in different regions
  • a mix of the previous two (hybrid)
  • a public cloud spanning over multiple Kubernetes clusters in different regions and on different Cloud Service Providers

Setting up a replica cluster

To set up a replica cluster from a source cluster, we need to create a cluster YAML file and define the following parts accordingly:

  • define the externalClusters section in the replica cluster
  • define the bootstrap part for the replica cluster. We can either bootstrap via streaming using the pg_basebackup section, or bootstrap from a volume snapshot or an object store using the recovery section
  • define the continuous recovery part (.spec.replica) in the replica cluster. All we need to do is to enable the replica mode through option .spec.replica.enabled and set the externalClusters name in option .spec.replica.source

Example using pg_basebackup

This first example defines a replica cluster using streaming replication in both bootstrap and continuous recovery. The replica cluster connects to the source cluster using TLS authentication.

You can check the sample YAML in the samples/ subdirectory.

Note the bootstrap and replica sections pointing to the source cluster.

  bootstrap:
    pg_basebackup:
      source: cluster-example

  replica:
    enabled: true
    source: cluster-example

In the externalClusters section, remember to use the right namespace for the host in the connectionParameters sub-section. The -replication and -ca secrets should have been copied over if necessary, in case the replica cluster is in a separate namespace.

  externalClusters:
  - name: <MAIN-CLUSTER>
    connectionParameters:
      host: <MAIN-CLUSTER>-rw.<NAMESPACE>.svc
      user: streaming_replica
      sslmode: verify-full
      dbname: postgres
    sslKey:
      name: <MAIN-CLUSTER>-replication
      key: tls.key
    sslCert:
      name: <MAIN-CLUSTER>-replication
      key: tls.crt
    sslRootCert:
      name: <MAIN-CLUSTER>-ca
      key: ca.crt

Example using a Backup from an object store

The second example defines a replica cluster that bootstraps from an object store using the recovery section and continuous recovery using both streaming replication and the given object store. For streaming replication, the replica cluster connects to the source cluster using basic authentication.

You can check the sample YAML for it in the samples/ subdirectory.

Note the bootstrap and replica sections pointing to the source cluster.

  bootstrap:
    recovery:
      source: cluster-example

  replica:
    enabled: true
    source: cluster-example

In the externalClusters section, take care to use the right namespace in the endpointURL and the connectionParameters.host. And do ensure that the necessary secrets have been copied if necessary, and that a backup of the source cluster has been created already.

  externalClusters:
  - name: <MAIN-CLUSTER>
    barmanObjectStore:
      destinationPath: s3://backups/
      endpointURL: http://minio:9000
      s3Credentials:
        …
    connectionParameters:
      host: <MAIN-CLUSTER>-rw.default.svc
      user: postgres
      dbname: postgres
    password:
      name: <MAIN-CLUSTER>-superuser
      key: password

Note

To use streaming replication between the source cluster and the replica cluster, we need to make sure there is network connectivity between the two clusters, and that all the necessary secrets which hold passwords or certificates are properly created in advance.

Example using a Volume Snapshot

If you use volume snapshots and your storage class provides snapshots cross-cluster availability, you can leverage that to bootstrap a replica cluster through a volume snapshot of the source cluster.

The third example defines a replica cluster that bootstraps from a volume snapshot using the recovery section. It uses streaming replication (via basic authentication) and the object store to fetch the WAL files.

You can check the sample YAML for it in the samples/ subdirectory.

Promoting the designated primary in the replica cluster

To promote the designated primary to primary, all we need to do is to disable the replica mode in the replica cluster through the option .spec.replica.enabled

 replica:
   enabled: false
   source: cluster-example

Once the replica mode is disabled, the replica cluster and the source cluster will become two separate clusters, and the designated primary in the replica cluster will be promoted to be that cluster's primary. We can verify the role change using the cnpg plugin, checking the status of the cluster which was previously the replica:

kubectl cnpg -n <cluster-name-space> status cluster-replica-example

Note

Disabling replication is an irreversible operation: once replication is disabled and the designated primary is promoted to primary, the replica cluster and the source cluster will become two independent clusters definitively.