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AWS dragged over lengthy downtime to migrate PostgreSQL DBaaS

Aurora needs a break to get users off 11.x, says cloud giant

AWS database downtime necessary to execute a migration has been described as "an embarrassingly low bar" for a managed service after the cloud giant announced plans for getting off PostgreSQL 11.x.

Amazon's cloud biz told users how it would no longer support PostgreSQL 11.x versions in its Aurora database-as-a-service after January 31, 2024, giving users a year to get off older versions of the relational system.

However, it was the downtime that irked critics.

"The upgrade process will shut down the database instance, perform the upgrade, and restart the database instance," AWS said in a missive to Aurora customers dated 3 February. "The database instances may be restarted multiple times during the duration of the upgrade process. While major version upgrades typically complete within the standard maintenance window, the duration of the upgrade depends on the number of objects within the database."

It then recommends a snapshot process to avoid "unplanned unavailability" outside scheduled maintenance windows.

However, users should expect more from a managed service database, according to Sam Lambert, CEO of PlanetScale, the proprietary database-as-a-service based on distributed relational database Vitess.

"This is an embarrassingly low bar for a 'managed service'," he told The Register. "The same message has been going out for RDS MySQL as well. Such a poor showing for RDS across the board. This is a tangible reason as to why people are leaving legacy providers and choosing serverless database providers."

Lambert said it was possible to automate the migration process and avoid downtime. "At PlanetScale, you can migrate from RDS to us without downtime and we will manage versions for you. Literally, you have less downtime by migrating out of AWS than doing what this email says."

The Register has asked AWS to comment.

Charly Batista, PostgreSQL technical lead at open source consultancy and software company Percona, said it should be possible to carry out the PostgreSQL upgrade so it is more or less fully automated, with minimum to zero downtime. "From a service perspective, it is convenient for AWS to push this migration process onto their users, so they carry the expense and burden of testing the upgrade process," he said.

"To be fair, the community version doesn't support physical replication from different major versions, but it does support logical replication. For a company like AWS, which makes a lot of profit on top of RDS products, I would expect a fuller professional service to be in place that would support customers more efficiently, regardless of what the community version of the software they are selling offers," he addd. ®

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