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Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL: cross-account synchronization using logical replication

In this post, we show you how to set up cross-account logical replication using Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL-Compatible Edition. By leveraging Aurora’s cross-account clone and PostgreSQL logical replication, you can achieve near real-time synchronization between a source and a target database in different AWS accounts.

You can customize the solution to meet specific requirements, including selective replication at the database, schema, or table level. This approach offers flexibility, scalability, and enhanced security, empowering organizations to meet specific use cases, such as

Development and Testing: You can use the cross-account replica for development and testing purposes without impacting the production environment. Developers and testers can work on the replica, perform experiments, run simulations, and validate changes without affecting the live production database.
Data Analysis and Reporting: You can use the replica for data analysis, reporting, and generating insights without impacting the primary database’s performance. This allows for offloading resource-intensive analytical queries, facilitating business intelligence initiatives, and generating timely reports.
Auditing and Compliance Reporting: You can use the cross-account replica for auditing and compliance reporting purposes if you have an AWS account dedicated for auditing. It provides a separate and immutable copy of the production data, ensuring data integrity and facilitating audit trails.

Solution overview

PostgreSQL logical replication provides fine-grained control over replicating and synchronizing parts of a database. For example, you can use logical replication to replicate an individual table or collection of tables of a database. For more information about the PostgreSQL implementation of logical replication, refer to Logical Replication and Logical Decoding Concept.

The following diagram illustrates our solution architecture.

Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL has a function called aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn(), which identifies the beginning of the record in the logical Write Ahead Log (WAL) stream for a given Aurora cluster volume. You can use this function during logical replication setup to determine the Log Sequence Number (LSN) at which the target database clone is taken. You can then use logical replication to continuously stream the newer data recorded after the LSN and synchronize the changes from publisher to subscriber.

This function is available on the following versions of Aurora PostgreSQL:

15.2 and higher 15 versions
14.3 and higher 14 versions
13.6 and higher 13 versions
12.10 and higher 12 versions
11.15 and higher 11 versions

Prerequisites

To set up cross-account logical replication using Aurora PostgreSQL, you must complete the following prerequisites:

Two AWS accounts (source and target).
An Aurora PostgreSQL database cluster.
Your Aurora PostgreSQL version must meet the specified level mentioned above in order to utilize the aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn() function.
Set the rds.logical_replication parameter in the RDS DB cluster parameter group on both the source and destination clusters.

VPC peering between primary and secondary AWS accounts.
Set up clone of your Aurora PostgreSQL on a different AWS account on the same region.
All tables to be logically replicated from source to target database across AWS accounts must have a primary key.

Limitations

When working on a logical replication setup, it is important to consider the restrictions that exist in PostgreSQL. Please refer Restrictions of PostgreSQL logical Replication for details.

Aurora PostgreSQL doesn’t support cross-account cloning across Regions, so the source and target (clone) databases should be in the same Region.

Solution walk-through

Using these AWS services will result in costs, so remember to clean up the services if you utilize this post for testing purpose

In this section we implement the solution using the following steps:

Clone the source Aurora cluster in the target account
Configure the source database
Publication for PostgreSQL Logical Replication
Create the replication slot for the source database
Get the LSN of the target database
Drop replication on target
Create a subscription on the target database
Start logical replication
Monitor replication
Clean up

Clone the source Aurora cluster in the target account

On your source AWS account, open the AWS Resource Access Manager Console and create a resource share for your Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL

Specify the resource share details (Source: Aurora PostgreSQL DB cluster)

Provide permission details

Provide the target AWS account details to share the source Aurora PostgreSQL DB resource.
Validate the status of the resource sharing on the AWS Resource Access Manager console (The status would show “Associating”)

On your target AWS account, open the AWS Resource Access Manager console and accept the invitation for resource sharing. Select the Aurora DB resource and “Accept Sharing”

Once the invitation is accepted on target AWS account, go back to Amazon RDS console of the source AWS account, under Connectivity & security – scroll down and validate if you can find the target account in the a section Share DB cluster with other AWS accounts

Once you share the source DB with target account, create the clone DB on the target account.

For more details, follow steps in creating an Amazon Aurora clone.

Configure the source database

Configure the WAL parameters

In PostgreSQL, logical replication is based on Write-Ahead Logging (WAL). WAL is the log of changes made to the database cluster, which the replication cluster uses to replay the changes to replicate the database changes. The default parameter group doesn’t have the required parameter setting to enable pglogical replication. To make logical replication work and allow read-only queries on the replica cluster, you have to make these parameter changes by modifying the parameter group in Amazon RDS. These parameter changes enable the logical replication feature and set the related worker processes at the PostgreSQL cluster level.

On the current source database, make sure the following settings are configured. If not already enabled, you can configure these parameters in a new parameter group and assign this parameter group to your database, which requires a database reboot.

On the Amazon RDS console, choose Parameter groups in the navigation pane.
Choose Create a new parameter group.
Modify the following parameters
wal_level – The wal_level parameter determines how much information is written to the WAL. The default value is minimal, which writes only the information needed to recover from a crash or immediate shutdown. The replica adds logging required for WAL archiving as well as information required to run read-only queries on a standby server. Setting this parameter to logical enables the replica database to be in read-only mode. For this post, we set rds.logical_replication=1 to achieve wal_level=logical. This way, the same information is logged as with replica, plus information needed to allow extracting logical change sets from the WAL. The logical setting also adds information necessary to support logical decoding.
max_replication_slots – Setting this parameter ensures the primary database cluster retains enough WAL segments for replicas to receive them and the primary only recycles the transaction logs after it has been consumed by all the replicas. The advantage is that a replica can never fall behind so much that a re-sync is needed. This parameter must be set to at least the number of subscriptions expected to connect, plus some reserve for table synchronization.
max_worker_processes – This parameter sets the maximum number of background processes that the database can support. It creates enough worker processes to serve each replica that corresponds to the WAL sender and handles other background processes the database system is running. The best practice is to set this to the number of CPUs you want to share for PostgreSQL exclusively. Generally, one per database is needed on the provider node and one per database is needed on the subscriber node in addition to the background processes.
max_wal_senders – This parameter sets the maximum number of concurrent connections from replication databases (the maximum number of simultaneously running WAL sender processes). The default is zero, meaning replication is disabled. If starting with one replica, you must set this to 3. For every replica, you can add two WAL senders.

To use the AWS CLI to complete these steps, enter the following commands to set the parameters at the parameter group:

$ aws rds modify-db-parameter-group
–db-parameter-group-name custom-cluster-postgressql12 –parameters
“ParameterName=’max_replication_slots’, ParameterValue=10,
ParameterName=’max_wal_senders’, ParameterValue=15,
ParameterName=’max_worker_processes’, ParameterValue=10,
ParameterName=’rds.logical_replication’, ParameterValue=1,
ApplyMethod=pending-reboot”

You can verify the parameter changes on the Amazon RDS console. In the following screenshot, rds.logical_replication=1 is set.

After the parameter settings in the parameter group are modified, you need to reboot the cluster for the changes to take effect, which causes an outage.
Apply the parameter group to the database instance.

Publication for PostgreSQL Logical Replication

Connect to source database and specify the below command to create a new publication on the source database for all tables (or a set of tables) to be replicated.

<source-db>=> CREATE PUBLICATION major_version_upgrade_cdc1 FOR ALL TABLES;

CREATE PUBLICATION

Validate the publication is created on the source database.

<source-db>=> select * from pg_publication;

oid | pubname | pubowner | puballtables | pubinsert | pubupdate | pubdelete | pubtruncate
——-+—————————-+———-+————–+——-
29365 | major_version_upgrade_cdc1 | 16394 | t | t | t | t | t
(1 row)

Create the replication slot for the source database

Create a Replication slot for the source database publication that was created in previous step.

<source-db>=> SELECT pg_create_logical_replication_slot (‘major_version_upgrade_cdc1′,’pgoutput’);

pg_create_logical_replication_slot
———————————-
(major_version_upgrade_cdc1,0/6788140)
(1 row)

Validate the replication slot is created using the following query.

<source-db>=> SELECT * FROM pg_replication_slots;

slot_name | plugin | slot_type | datoid | database | temporary | active | active_pid | xmin | catalog_xmin | restart_lsn | confirmed_flush_lsn
—————————-+———-+———–+——–+———
major_version_upgrade_cdc1 | pgoutput | logical | 16411 | <source-db> | f | f | | | 765996 | 0/67880E8 | 0/6788140
(1 row)

Get the LSN of the target database

Identify the Logical Sequence number from target database for Logical replication

psql -h target-Aurora-endpoint -U <master-user> -d <target-db>

Query the LSN, which identifies the beginning of a record in the WAL stream from where the logical replication should begin, you need this number later in the process, so make a note of it.

<target-db>=> SELECT * FROM aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn();
aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn
———————————
0/6799E20
(1 row)

If the query to retrieve the LSN from the cloned database aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn() isn’t supported on your Aurora PostgreSQL version, perform a minor database upgrade of the clone to bring it to the nearest supported version as mentioned in the previous section.

Drop the replication slot on the target database

Replication slot on the target database is brought over as part of the cloning process and not needed on the target database.

<target-db>=> SELECT * FROM pg_replication_slots;

slot_name | plugin | slot_type | datoid | database | temporary | active | active_pid | xmin | catalog_xmin | restart_lsn | confirmed_flush_lsn
—————————-+———-+———–+——–+———
major_version_upgrade_cdc1 | pgoutput | logical | 16411 | <source-db> | f | f | | | 765996 | 0/67880E8 | 0/6788140
(1 row)

Drop the replication slot on the target database

<target-db>=> SELECT pg_drop_replication_slot(‘major_version_upgrade_cdc1’);

pg_drop_replication_slot

(1 row)

Validate the replication slot is dropped on the target database

<target-db>=> SELECT * FROM pg_replication_slots;

slot_name | plugin | slot_type | datoid | database | temporary | active | active_pid | xmin | catalog_xmin | restart_lsn | confirmed_flush_lsn
———–+——–+———–+——–+———-+———–+—–
( 1 row)

Create a subscription on the target database

Create a subscription on the target Aurora database clone (with source database credentials):

<target-db>=>
CREATE SUBSCRIPTION my_subscription_cdc1
CONNECTION ‘postgres://<master-user>:password@source-RDS endpoint:5432/<source-db>’
PUBLICATION major_version_upgrade_cdc1
WITH (
copy_data = false,
create_slot = false,
enabled = false,
connect = true,
slot_name = ‘major_version_upgrade_cdc1’);
CREATE SUBSCRIPTION

Validate the Subscription created on the target database

<target-db>=> select * from pg_subscription;

oid | subdbid | subname | subowner | subenabled | subconninfo | subslotname | subsynccommit | subpublications
——-+———+———————-+———-+————+—–
33461 | 16411 | my_subscription_cdc1 | 16394 | f | postgres://<master-user>:password@Source-Aurora-Endpoint:5432/<source-db> | major_version_upgrade_cdc1 | off | {major_version_upgrade_cdc1}

Start logical replication between source and target database

Determine the origin value of replication from the system catalog table in the cloned (target) database

<target-db>=> SELECT * FROM pg_replication_origin;

roident | roname
———+——
1 | pg_33462
( 1 row)

Kick off replication in the cloned target database using the values determined in the preceding step:

<target-db>=> SELECT pg_replication_origin_advance(‘pg_33462′,’0/6799E20’);

pg_replication_origin_advance
—————————–
(1 row)

<ro_name> —> pg_33462, refers to the replication origin for target database.

<lsn> —> 0/6799E20, log_sequence_number is the value returned by the earlier query of the aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn function.

The previous command uses the pg_replication_origin_advance function to specify the starting point in the log sequence for replication.

Enable the subscription on the target database with the following code:

<target-db>=> ALTER SUBSCRIPTION my_subscription_cdc1 ENABLE;

ALTER SUBSCRIPTION

Monitor Replication

To monitor replication, run the following query on the source Aurora database in the primary AWS account

<source-db>=> SELECT now() AS CURRENT_TIME,
slot_name,
active,
active_pid,
pg_size_pretty(pg_wal_lsn_diff(pg_current_wal_lsn(), confirmed_flush_lsn)) AS diff_size,
pg_wal_lsn_diff(pg_current_wal_lsn(), confirmed_flush_lsn) AS diff_bytes
FROM pg_replication_slots
WHERE slot_type = ‘logical’;
current_time | slot_name | active | active_pid | diff_size | diff_bytes
——————————-+—————————+——–+———–+–
2022-04-20 21:49:06.374984+00 | major_version_upgrade_cdc | t | 22771 | 0 bytes | 0
(1 row)

The “active” column should show the value t (true) and the values for diff_size and diff_bytes should be decreased based on the sync between the source and target databases. See the following example:

You can view the PostgreSQL logs on the Events tab of the RDS console. See the following example code:

2022-04-20 21:47:08 UTC::@:[18080]:LOG: background worker “logical replication worker” (PID 28164) exited with exit code 1
2022-04-20 21:48:25 UTC::@:[32022]:LOG: logical replication apply worker for subscription “my_subscription_cdc” has started.

Note that sequence data isn’t replicated. The data in serial or identity columns backed by sequences are replicated as part of the table, but the sequence itself still shows the start value on the subscriber. If the subscriber is used as a read-only database, then this should typically not be a problem. If, however, some kind of switchover or failover to the subscriber database is intended, then the sequences need to be updated to the latest values, either by copying the current data from the publisher (perhaps using pg_dump) or by determining a sufficiently high value from the tables themselves.

Clean up

To clean up when finished, complete the following steps:

Stop the logical replication and drop replication slots by connecting to the publisher (source database) and running the following SQL command

SELECT pg_drop_replication_slot(slot_name) FROM pg_replication_slots WHERE slot_name IN (SELECT slot_name FROM pg_replication_slots);

DROP PUBLICATION <publication_name>;

The replication slots can’t be active when you run this command. To de-activate the slot perform the following steps:
Modify the DB cluster parameter group associated with the publisher, as described in modify-db-cluster-parameter-group. Set the rds.logical_replication static parameter to 0.
Restart the publisher DB cluster for the change to the rds.logical_replication static parameter to take effect.

To drop a subscription that no longer has a replication slot upstream, run the following commands in the target database

ALTER SUBSCRIPTION my_subscription_cdc1 DISABLE;

ALTER SUBSCRIPTION my_subscription_cdc1 SET (slot_name=NONE);

DROP SUBSCRIPTION my_subscription_cdc1;

Delete the Aurora DB clusters and DB instances that you no longer need to avoid any cost associated with the database instances. For instructions, refer to Deleting Aurora DB clusters and DB instances.

WAL storage

In Amazon Aurora for PostgreSQL, the write-ahead log (WAL) storage is managed automatically by the service, and you don’t have direct control over its size. CloudWatch metrics, such as TransactionLogsDiskUsage, WriteThroughput and DiskQueueDepth can help you keep track of storage utilized by WAL files, to monitor rate of WAL generation and the disk utilization.

Troubleshooting

By following best practices and proactive configuration settings, you can mitigate

potential issues in your logical replication setup. It’s worth noting that data may experience delays in reaching the target system due to network glitches or unexpected high volumes on the source system; however, the system will eventually catch up and synchronize the data accordingly.

One of the common issues is duplicate key on target subscriber database, to avoid this kind of error, ensure to use aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn() function to capture correct LSN number to enable subscription on target.

Future Object Replication: In this scenario, we have enabled logical replication for all tables. Tables created after enabling replication we have to run below command to push changes for new tables.

<target-db>=> ALTER SUBSCRIPTION my_subscription_cdc1 REFRESH PUBLICATION;

Conclusion

In this post, we reviewed the steps to perform an Aurora PostgreSQL database cross-account clone (standalone cluster) with continuous replication with your primary database. Furthermore, we discussed the utilization of aurora_volume_logical_start_lsn() function in conjunction with native PostgreSQL logical replication. This combination enables the replication of your database across AWS accounts,

while also leveraging the capabilities of Aurora clone. This feature is useful for running your lower database environment clones (synced with your primary database) on a different AWS account.

We welcome the feedback. If you have questions or comments, leave them in the comments section.

About the Authors

Senthil Ramasamy is a Senior Database Consultant at Amazon Web Services. He works with AWS customers to provide guidance and technical assistance on database services, helping them with database migrations to the AWS Cloud and improving the value of their solutions when using AWS.

John Lonappan is a Senior Database Specialist Consultant / Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services with a focus on relational databases. Prior to AWS, John worked as a Database Architect for large data center providers across the globe. Outside of work, he is passionate about long drives, EV conversion, playing chess, and traveling.

Harshad Gohil is a Cloud/Database Consultant with Professional Services team at Amazon Web Services. He helps customers to build scalable, highly available and secure solutions in AWS cloud. His focus area is homogeneous and heterogeneous migrations of on-premise infrastructure to AWS cloud.

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