Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI)

2ndQuadrant enlisted by internationally recognized polar and marine research institute

The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) is an internationally recognized institute known for expertise in polar and marine research. It is one of the very few scientific institutions in the world that is equally active in the Arctic and Antarctic. Combining innovative approaches, outstanding research infrastructure and years of expertise, AWI explores nearly all aspects of the Earth system – from the atmosphere to the ocean floor. AWI’s research is focused on the consequences of climate change and the pollution of the oceans, as well as early detection and warnings for seaquakes (tsunamis).

For their research, AWI operates on a variety of research stations including ships, aircrafts, buoys, and so on, which constantly collect an enormous amount of data. Databases are a critical building block of the AWI data flow and management framework. They facilitate each step of the data lifecycle – from the instrument/sensor level up to archival and data publication.

The Challenge

Over the years, as the demand presented itself, AWI invested in various PostgreSQL versions and operating systems for their applications – versions that were the latest & greatest at that point in time. This decision inevitably led to a complex database infrastructure where a mixture of different PostgreSQL and OS versions were rarely working in sync, due to the absence of a centralized maintenance system. Such a model requires a hefty investment, both in terms of time and expertise. One of the most persistent obstacles for AWI was the difficulty in maintaining consistency between versions, troubleshooting, and streamlining the processes of sporadic updates.

The Solution

Having homogenous PostgreSQL and OS versions with a standardized backup plan is conducive to a manageable system. After researching several possible vendors, AWI was most impressed by the world-class team of PostgreSQL experts at 2ndQuadrant, as well as their Platinum Sponsorship of the PostgreSQL project. They decided to engage 2ndQuadrant to work with their staff in developing a more structured architecture for the database.

During the consulting period, 2ndQuadrant consultants examined the processes, identified loopholes, and proposed a plan of action for an up-to-date and robust database infrastructure.

Prior to the upgrade service, system and application requirements were thoroughly assessed in order to develop a customized migration plan. 2ndQuadrant consultants worked closely with the DBAs at AWI to upgrade the existing PostgreSQL databases as well as their host operating system.

In addition, an experienced engineer helped install and configure a central PostgreSQL backup system using Barman (Backup & Recovery Manager for PostgreSQL) to enable point in time recovery (PITR). The Barman server/backup host was installed to host multiple PostgreSQL servers. Lastly, the performance and functionality of the databases were tested and tuned individually against their respective applications.

To close the loop on sustainability, 2ndQuadrant consultants trained the AWI staff on installation, configuration and migration of the systems to carry out future updates and maintain smooth workflow processes.

We got an excellent training on the job and during short interspersed tutorials, and could easily proceed ourselves on the newly gained, sound knowledge. 2ndQuadrant‘s friendly consultant delivered an extremely good job. Within only one week, he helped us migrate our four historically grown PostgreSQL servers, differing in respect to Linux platforms, PostgreSQL installation sources, and extensions, to a new, consolidated server landscape, and set up a centralised backup scheme based on Barman. He acted very flexibly according to the ever-changing daily work in our scientific computing department, and had competent answers to any questions that would arise.

Christian Schäfer-Neth, Deputy Head of IT infrastructure at AWI

About 2ndQuadrant

2ndQuadrant provides PostgreSQL solutions for the Enterprise. Our support engineers have over 100 years of combined code contributions to the PostgreSQL project, making us the only company to contribute enterprise features to all of the last 13 releases. This is paired with 17+ years of hands-on experience through client engagements and allows us to integrate customized solutions with our customers – making 2ndQuadrant the Gold Standard for PostgreSQL products & services.