When scoping out their ideal database management system (DBMS), one of the first things that an enterprise will prioritize is performance. While this term can encompass a number of different criteria, at its heart “performance” refers to the speed of the database and its ability to operate consistently and effectively, even under great data and transaction stressors.
Postgres’ reputation as a highly performant database is one of the many factors that has propelled its exponential rise in popularity, with companies of all sizes across industries trusting Postgres to provide them—and their customers—with ideal functionality.
But are businesses truly getting the best possible performance out of their Postgres? And, at the end of the day, what does good performance truly mean?
These are just two of many questions EDB sought to answer in the latest installment of our Ask the Expert webinar series, entitled “Perform at Your Best with Postgres.”
Hosted by Kevin Li, EDB’s Director of Sales Engineering for EMEA and Piotr Kolodziej, EDB Senior Sales Engineer for EMEA, this session dove deep into:
- What level of performance companies can achieve when they harness the full power of Postgres;
- What challenges they might face;
- What best practices will ensure they overcome these challenges;
- How EDB can help.
We encourage you to watch the full on-demand webinar, but here are some highlights and key insights we pulled from the expertise Li and Kolodziej shared.
Defining “great database performance”
Li started off the session by laying the essential groundwork for how an organization should gauge the performance of their DBMS. In order to get the most holistic understanding of what can be a broad concept, he emphasized three key metrics:
- Speed: Perhaps the most fundamental of the three, speed refers to the time it takes for an enterprise’s DBMS to respond to a command. This is equally relevant for internal operations and for how rapidly your customer-facing site or application responds to the requests of a user.
- Throughput: Throughput measures the amount of operations that a database can handle over a given period of time. As businesses scale, their databases’ functionality will largely depend on the ability to manage the workflows and commands from a growing number of internal and external users.
- Scale: Closely linked to throughput, scale ties into the natural ambition of any organization: growth. As the number of users expands or as the amount of data stored multiplies, will the performance of your chosen DBMS remain consistent, or will it buckle under the weight and stymie your innovation?
Each of these criteria is essential when selecting a database that your enterprise expects to perform. The three are inextricably linked with truly great performance depending on an infrastructure that can truly fulfill them all.
At EDB, we’ve often heard companies ask: “Is it really possible to satisfy all these criteria at the same time?”
To this, Li and Kolodziej said, “Yes.”
Achieving high performance is about proactivity
When it comes to database performance issues, it’s helpful to think on a query-by-query basis, i.e. what is getting in the way of an individual operation or transaction. While Li and Kolodziej got into much more technical detail in the full webinar, one of the main causes of slow or stalled queries they point to is database hygiene.
At its core, database hygiene refers to the design and maintenance of your DBMS: whether your architecture is logical, how your applications are structured and connected, the rigor with which you’re managing workflows and scheduled tasks. Especially as organizations grow, keen attention to database hygiene is one of the best ways to proactively achieve top-level performance, ensuring that individual queries don’t slow down, pile up and bottleneck your DBMS. Simple actions such as testing applications and verifying database performance before going live or making major changes can go a long way towards preventing issues like this, which are often harder to fix when transactional demand on the system is already high.
Cost-effective performance strategies
A key reason why Li and Kolodziej focused on this topic and these methods for so much of their session is because of the alternative strategy, into which they’ve seen enterprises fall: simply buying additional CPUs.
On the surface, it makes total sense that many businesses see this as the easiest and most logical way to guarantee a performant database. As the sprawl of the system grows and the data volume increases, why wouldn’t you just add more processing power? It’s the database equivalent of a street racer adding a NOS canister to their vehicle.
At least it can seem that way. The fact of the matter is that while increasing CPUs is sometimes necessary and reasonable, it is not alone a guarantor of good performance. No matter how much CPU power you have at your disposal, without proper database hygiene, you’ll encounter the same problems with performance you were having before. If you’re going to invest money into achieving great performance, invest it in solutions that will help manage your database and maintain that hygiene, solutions that will show you a true and consistent return.
How EDB helps enterprise databases performance better
The centerpiece of this Ask the Expert session was an extensive demo of EDB’s Postgres Enterprise Manager (PEM). One of our flagship products, PEM is designed to help organizations comprehensively monitor, manage and optimize their Postgres environment. With advanced diagnostic and tuning capabilities, PEM allows you to understand exactly how your Postgres is working and where there might be issues. This information—visible from a single centralized interface—makes achieving pristine database hygiene easier than ever, nipping performance hurdles in the bud before they cause major issues.
Database performance is one of the most important things an enterprise can have going for it. It’s what drives innovation and builds market reputations for businesses and their applications. If your database isn’t performing to the highest standards, the ramifications can be severe and long-lasting.
Since we couldn’t explore everything that Li and Kolodziej shared in this session, we encourage you to watch the recording in full. Your database will thank you.