Need a full-featured, ANSI SQL compliant database? If you don’t want to wait for your IT department to provision it for you, or don’t want the hassle of installing and configuring a whole bunch of software on your local machine, then cloud database services are a great option for you. And today, you can now access a new DbaaS from Heroku called Heroku Postgres.
[Full Discloser: I work for salesforce.com, the parent company of Heroku.]
Heroku Postgres is built using PostgreSQL, commonly known as Postgres. Most of my regular readers probably already know about Postgres, but for those of you that don’t, it’s a terrific open-source database management system that can satisfy the needs of even the most demanding apps. Among the many features you get are ACID and ANSI SQL compliance, data replication, full text search, and much more. It’s also developed by a global community of developers, which means that Oracle can’t buy it ;-) I suggest you read here for a complete list of Postgres features.
Heroku Postgres is more than just Postgres as a service. Sure, you get all of the things you’d expect from a DbaaS offering that let you focus on app development rather than keeping the lights on, features such as effortless self-service database provisioning, simple yet secure access to your database from anywhere, automated backups, redundant transaction logs, and expert service health monitoring. And considering that Heroku has been operating Postgres for a good long while as part of their original platform as a service, they’ve got the experience to make Postgres reliable. But wait, there’s more.
The folks at Heroku are innovating with Heroku Postgres. How so? Consider Heroku’s Fork and Follow features (currently in Beta).
- Forking a database is like forking source code — it’s a simple way to create a clone of your source database. You can then use a database fork to test new schema migrations, perform load tests, or any operation that you want to isolate from your production database. When you are done with your work, simply trash your database fork.
- Read-only database replication is a common approach that many apps leverage to offload CPU intensive query processing from the primary, transaction processing database to one or more read-only replica databases. However, database replication is notoriously complex to configure and maintain. Not so with the Heroku Postgres follow feature. With a single command, you can create a read-only database follower (replica), which the service then keeps in sync with your primary database. Your apps can then use database followers to process queries with up-to-date data.