I’m increasingly encountering users on Heroku that are encountering the need to [shard](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shard_(database_architecture)) their data. For most users this is something you delay as long as possible as you can generally go for sometime before you have to worry about it. Additionally scaling up your database is often a reasonable approach early on and something I encourage as a starting point as scaling up is easy to do with regards to databases. However, for the 1% of users that do need to shard when the time comes many are left wondering where to start, hence the following guide.
I recently got asked by a friend and former co-worker how I write SQL. At first this caught me by surprise and I assumed there was nothing different, but after a few additional comments on it, it became clear most people have no concept for creating clean readable SQL. So without further adieu here’s how I write SQL, with a built up example query.
SQL is an expressive language, though people are often okay with accessing Mongo data through its own ORM. The real value is that you could actually query the data from within Postgres then join across your data stores, without having to do some ETL process to move data around. Think… joining sales data from Postgres with user reviews stored in Mongo or searching for visits to a website (retained in redis) against purchases by user in Postgres.
The mechanism pointed out was a MongoDB Foreign Data Wrapper. A Foreign Data Wrapper or FDW essentially lets you connect to an external datastore from within a Postgres database. In addition to the Mongo FDW released the other day there’s many others. For example Postgres 9.0 and up ships with one called
db_link, which lets you query and join across two different Postgres databases. Beyond that there’s support for a variety of other data stores including some you may have never expected:
Lets look at actually getting the Redis one running then see what some of the power of it really looks like. First we have to get the code then build it: