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CloudNativePG Recipe 9 - Inspecting the network and the storage in a CloudNativePG cluster

In this blog post, I delve into the crucial aspects of networking and storage within a CloudNativePG cluster deployed on Kubernetes. I explore how Kubernetes services manage external and internal communications for PostgreSQL clusters, ensuring high availability and seamless failover. Additionally, I examine the role of PersistentVolumeClaims in handling PostgreSQL data storage, offering insights into effective resource management. This article provides an example of the kind of knowledge DBAs need to acquire when managing PostgreSQL in cloud-native environments, highlighting the importance of collaboration with infrastructure teams and developers to ensure robust and resilient cluster operations.

In this article, I will cover two key resources essential for a CloudNativePG cluster deployed in Kubernetes: networking and storage.

Networking is crucial for external communication between a PostgreSQL cluster and applications, as well as for internal communication between PostgreSQL instances for high availability (HA). Storage is a fundamental requirement for any database, ensuring data persistence and reliability.

These concepts are also vital for database administrators (DBAs) transitioning to Kubernetes. Networking surrounds our PostgreSQL cluster, while storage lies beneath it. Understanding these aspects enables DBAs to collaborate effectively with infrastructure and platform engineers, as well as developers, particularly when managing Cluster resources.

IMPORTANT: This article requires the local playground covered in CNPG Recipe #1. For a broader understanding, I recommend also going through Recipes #2 and #3.

Let’s connect to your local Kubernetes cluster in kind and check the list of PostgreSQL clusters:

kubectl get clusters


NAME              AGE     INSTANCES   READY   STATUS                     PRIMARY
cluster-example   86s   3           3       Cluster in healthy state   cluster-example-1

The cluster-example cluster comprises three instances, a primary (cluster-example-1) and two standby instances (cluster-example-2 and cluster-example-3). Each instance runs in a separate pod, as shown with the following command:

kubectl get pods


NAME                READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
cluster-example-1   1/1     Running   0          81s
cluster-example-2   1/1     Running   0          61s
cluster-example-3   1/1     Running   0          43s

CloudNativePG is responsible for the PostgreSQL cluster resource and leverages the Kubernetes API for both networking (using the Service resource) and storage (via the PersistentVolumeClaim and, indirectly, StorageClass resources) without reinventing the wheel. Kubernetes coordinates all these components, trusting the CloudNativePG controller to manage these resources and converge the observed state of a Postgres cluster to the desired one. This makes an operator special when managing a database workload like Postgres.

Let’s now start with the networking side.

Networking #

Kubernetes provides a standard resource called Service, an abstraction that enables exposing a group of pods over a network. In the context of CloudNativePG, this service exposes the PostgreSQL TCP service (port 5432) of each instance running in a pod, allowing applications to connect seamlessly.

The first question that comes to mind is: “How can I connect to the primary?”

CloudNativePG abstracts the complexity of PostgreSQL’s primary/standby architecture by providing a service that always points to the primary instance. This eliminates the need for applications to know the specific pod name where the primary runs. Each cluster includes a mandatory Service object, named after the cluster with the -rw suffix, of type ClusterIP, which points to the IP of the pod running the primary.

The second question that comes to mind is: “What happens if the primary goes down?”

CloudNativePG’s controller ensures that in the event of a primary failure, the service promptly points to the new primary by using its selector, which relies on pod labels to identify the target. CloudNativePG correctly sets these labels on the pods (and on storage, as we’ll discuss later) to first remove the link to the former primary and then, after promotion, point to the new leader. This automated failover mechanism provides high availability and self-healing capabilities. This approach treats PostgreSQL databases more like cattle than pets, although I advocate for a middle ground where PostgreSQL instances are treated more specially than cattle but not quite as uniquely as pets—hence my motto: cattle vs. pets (vs. elephants).

Additionally, the service ensures the correct routing during routine maintenance tasks such as updates, configuration changes, and switchovers.

Furthermore, CloudNativePG automatically creates a -ro service, which points to any available hot standby instances (replicas accepting read-only transactions) for read-only queries, and a -r service, which points to any available instance. Version 1.24 introduces support for the option, allowing us to skip the generation of these two default services.

By managing these services, the operator provides a robust and resilient PostgreSQL environment that adheres to Cloud Native principles. This allows developers to focus on building and maintaining their applications without worrying about the underlying database infrastructure.

To view the services managed by the operator, use the following command:

kubectl get services

This command will list all the Kubernetes services associated with your CloudNativePG cluster, giving you an overview of the available resources:

NAME                 TYPE        CLUSTER-IP      EXTERNAL-IP   PORT(S)    AGE
cluster-example-r    ClusterIP    <none>        5432/TCP   93s
cluster-example-ro   ClusterIP   <none>        5432/TCP   93s
cluster-example-rw   ClusterIP    <none>        5432/TCP   93s
kubernetes           ClusterIP       <none>        443/TCP    5m

Let’s examine the cluster-example-rw service in more detail with:

kubectl describe service cluster-example-rw


Name:              cluster-example-rw
Namespace:         default
Annotations: 1.23.2
Type:              ClusterIP
IP Family Policy:  SingleStack
IP Families:       IPv4
Port:              postgres  5432/TCP
TargetPort:        5432/TCP
Session Affinity:  None
Events:            <none>

Pay attention to the Selector field, which identifies the primary pod of the cluster-example cluster. Ultimately though, the most relevant information is in the Endpoints section, which shows a single entry: TCP port 5432 on host Let’s retrieve the IPs of our pods:

kubectl get pods -o wide


NAME                READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE     IP            NODE                 NOMINATED NODE   READINESS GATES
cluster-example-1   1/1     Running   0          7m52s   cnpg-control-plane   <none>           <none>
cluster-example-2   1/1     Running   0          7m32s   cnpg-control-plane   <none>           <none>
cluster-example-3   1/1     Running   0          7m14s   cnpg-control-plane   <none>           <none>

As you can see, is the IP address of the cluster-example-1 pod, which runs the primary PostgreSQL instance.

If you describe the cluster-example-ro service, you will see two endpoints: and

This automation leverages the concept of Kubernetes’ service selectors in Kubernetes, eliminating the need to manually coordinate changes with Virtual IPs, DNS entries, and connection poolers. It significantly simplifies management and reduces the risk of errors, including split-brain scenarios where different cluster instances mistakenly assume they are the primary.

Another useful command is:

kubectl get endpoints

Returning all the endpoints:

NAME                 ENDPOINTS                                            AGE
cluster-example-r,,   10m
cluster-example-ro,                    10m
cluster-example-rw                                     10m
kubernetes                                       15m

Storage #

CloudNativePG directly manages PostgreSQL files. In the simplest scenario, it handles a single volume containing the PGDATA directory, where all PostgreSQL data files are stored. Additionally, you can separate Write-Ahead Log (WAL) files into a different volume and manage PostgreSQL tablespaces as separate volumes.

PostgreSQL volumes are instantiated through a standard Kubernetes resource called PersistentVolumeClaim (PVC), which defines the request for persistent storage for a pod. Let’s list the PVCs in our example:

kubectl get pvc


NAME                STATUS   VOLUME                                     CAPACITY   ACCESS MODES   STORAGECLASS   AGE
cluster-example-1   Bound    pvc-5ecd8058-84a5-456b-8498-24ea5283c9bd   1Gi        RWO            standard       11m
cluster-example-2   Bound    pvc-485f6e81-63c4-428f-ac34-3f6b557665a7   1Gi        RWO            standard       11m
cluster-example-3   Bound    pvc-6a94ce46-43e2-4741-bd19-e117019f16f5   1Gi        RWO            standard       11m

Next, let’s get more information about the PVC of the first pod by running:

kubectl describe pvc cluster-example-1

We should expect an output similar to the following:

Name:          cluster-example-1
Namespace:     default
StorageClass:  standard
Status:        Bound
Volume:        pvc-5ecd8058-84a5-456b-8498-24ea5283c9bd
Annotations: 1
Finalizers:    []
Capacity:      1Gi
Access Modes:  RWO
VolumeMode:    Filesystem
Used By:       cluster-example-1
Events:        <none>

Key information includes:

  • Storage Class: The default storage class (standard in our environment) is used because none was specified in the stanza. You can check this by running:

    kubectl get storageclass


    standard (default)   Delete          WaitForFirstConsumer   false                  16m
  • Volume: The name of the persistent volume associated with the PVC and subsequently with the cluster-example-1 pod (see Used By).

  • Labels and Annotations: Starting with, these are controlled and managed by CloudNativePG (e.g., indicates that the volume contains the PGDATA).

  • Volume Mode: Set to Filesystem, meaning the volume is mounted as a directory in the file system of the pod.

  • Access Mode: Set to ReadWriteOnce (RWO).

  • Capacity: The size of the volume.

If you are curious, you can get more information about the underlying storage class or the persistent volumes using the kubectl describe storageclass standard and kubectl describe pv cluster-example-1 commands.

Conclusions #

To summarise, a PostgreSQL Cluster resource sits between applications and the storage, with networking seamlessly enabling secure connections with the database. CloudNativePG uses standard Kubernetes resources, facilitating conversations between infrastructure teams and DBAs/developers who are responsible for a PostgreSQL cluster.

DBAs operating in a multidisciplinary development team don’t need to master the entire Kubernetes ecosystem. They only need to learn enough Kubernetes to manage PostgreSQL Cluster objects effectively, thus enabling them to participate in intelligent conversations with their counterparts — from planning the architecture and storage (day 0) to managing production environments (day 2).

In this article, I covered networking, including the read-only service that enables distributing reads on a replica through PostgreSQL hot standby capability, and storage, focusing on persistent volume claims. Take time to familiarise yourself with these resources, conduct your research, and experiment. This will enhance your knowledge and improve the overall performance of PostgreSQL in Kubernetes.

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