• Technical
  • PostgreSQL
What is Fast Forking for PostgreSQL® on Azure NetApp Files?

Are you looking for a way to cut down the time it takes to backup and restore PostgreSQL® operations on large databases? Are you already using the Instaclustr Managed PostgreSQL service on Azure NetApp Files (ANF) and wondering what the new Fast Forking feature is all about?

Whatever your question, this blog is here to answer it. 

What is PostgreSQLANF Fast Forking? 

Based on NetApp’s industry-leading ONTAP storage management software, ANF is a cloud-native file storage service optimized to handle the most demanding file workloads with sub-millisecond response times. ANF has already turbocharged the speed of PostgreSQL and now we’re adding to the feature set to show all that PostgreSQL on ANF has to offer. ANF Fast Forking allows you to create an exact clone of your database that you can read/write independently in just minutes. 

When would I use Fast Forking? 

When you need to move data to a new database fast, Instaclustr’s new feature is for you:

  • Blue/green deployments 
  • Fast rollback option for database deployments 
  • Analytic workloads that you don’t want to run on the primary database 
  • Performance testing on real data 

How does ANF Fast Forking perform compared to the usual restore operation? 

In our test, we compared the performance of snapshot/backup creation and fork/restore on a single-node PostgreSQL cluster. The node size was PGS-PRD-Standard_E8s_v4-ANF-2048, and the database was loaded with 1TB of data.  

The chart below shows the amount of time taken (in minutes) for each operation: 

Why is ANF so fast? 

ANF utilizes pointers to the data blocks on disk as part of its underlying volume virtualization technology. An ANF snapshot captures only these pointers, eliminating the need to copy the actual data blocks. For more information, read How Azure NetApp Files snapshots work.

What are the limitations of ANF Fast Forking? 

ANF Fast Forking should not be used as a replacement for a backup. As the snapshots are located within the same storage, there is no redundancy in case of hardware failure at the cloud provider.  

ANF Fast Forking can only replicate data from the exact timestamp of the snapshot. Point in time recovery (available when using standard backups) is not possible with Fast Forking. 

Can I use both ANF Fast Forking and backup restore? 

Absolutely!

PostgreSQL databases on ANF have daily backups like other PostgreSQL instances. You can choose to create another backup, restore from a point in time, or use the new ANF Fast Forking feature. 

Restore an ANF-PostgreSQL cluster 

Forking the same ANF-PostgreSQL cluster 

How do I start with ANF Fast Forking? 

Head over to our documentation to learn how to get started, or reach out to one of our experts for more information.