Multi-node administration

Multi-node TimescaleDB allows you to administer your cluster directly from the access node. When your environment is set up, you do not need to log directly into the data nodes to administer your database.

When you perform an administrative task, such as adding a new column, changing privileges, or adding an index on a distributed hypertable, you can perform the task from the access node and it is applied to all the data nodes. If a command is executed on a regular table, however, the effects of that command are only applied locally on the access node. Similarly, if a command is executed directly on a data node, the result is only visible on that data node.

Commands that create or modify schemas, roles, tablespaces, and settings in a distributed database are not automatically distributed either. That is because these objects and settings sometimes need to be different on the access node compared to the data nodes, or even vary among data nodes. For example, the data nodes could have unique CPU, memory, and disk configurations. The node differences make it impossible to assume that a single configuration works for all nodes. Further, some settings need to be different on the publicly accessible access node compared to data nodes, such as having different connection limits. A role might not have the LOGIN privilege on the access node, but it needs this privilege on data nodes so that the access node can connect.

Roles and tablespaces are also shared across multiple databases on the same instance. Some of these databases might be distributed and some might not be, or be configured with a different set of data nodes. Therefore, it is not possible to know for sure when a role or tablespace should be distributed to a data node given that these commands can be executed from within different databases, that need not be distributed.

To administer a multi-node cluster from the access node, you can use the distributed_exec function. This function allows full control over creating and configuring, database settings, schemas, roles, and tablespaces across all data nodes.

The rest of this section describes in more detail how specific administrative tasks are handled in a multi-node environment.

Distributed role management


Timescale Cloud automates role management. It distributes role management commands so that the you do not have to manually configure roles across all node instances. Therefore, most of the information in this section applies only to self-managed deployments.

In a multi-node environment, you need to manage roles on each PostgreSQL instance independently, because roles are instance-level objects that are shared across both distributed and non-distributed databases that each can be configured with a different set of data nodes or none at all. Therefore, an access node does not automatically distribute roles or role management commands across its data nodes. When a data node is added to a cluster, it is assumed that it already has the proper roles necessary to be consistent with the rest of the nodes. If this is not the case, you might encounter unexpected errors when you try to create or alter objects that depend on a role that is missing or set incorrectly.

To help manage roles from the access node, you can use the distributed_exec function. This is useful for creating and configuring roles across all data nodes in the current database.

Creating a distributed role

When you create a distributed role, it is important to consider that the same role might require different configuration on the access node compared to the data nodes. For example, a user might require a password to connect to the access node, while certificate authentication is used between nodes within the cluster. You might also want a connection limit for external connections, but allow unlimited internal connections to data nodes. For example, the following user can use a password to make 10 connections to the access node but has no limits connecting to the data nodes:

CALL distributed_exec($$ CREATE ROLE alice WITH LOGIN CONNECTION LIMIT -1; $$);

For more information about setting up authentication, see the multi-node authentication section.

Some roles can also be configured without the LOGIN attribute on the access node. This allows you to switch to the role locally, but not connect with the user from a remote location. However, to be able to connect from the access node to a data node as that user, the data nodes need to have the role configured with the LOGIN attribute enabled. To create a non-login role for a multi-node setup, use these commands:

CALL distributed_exec($$ CREATE ROLE alice WITH LOGIN; $$);

To allow a new role to create distributed hypertables it also needs to be granted usage on data nodes, for example:


By granting usage on some data nodes, but not others, you can restrict usage to a subset of data nodes based on the role.

Alter a distributed role

When you alter a distributed role, use the same process as creating roles. The role needs to be altered on the access node and on the data nodes in two separate steps. For example, add the CREATEROLE attribute to a role as follows:

CALL distributed_exec($$ ALTER ROLE alice CREATEROLE; $$);

Manage distributed databases

A distributed database can contain both distributed and non-distributed objects. In general, when a command is issued to alter a distributed object, it applies to all nodes that have that object (or a part of it).

However, in some cases settings should be different depending on node, because nodes might be provisioned differently (having, for example, varying levels of CPU, memory, and disk capabilities) and the role of the access node is different from a data node's.

This section describes how and when commands on distributed objects are applied across all data nodes when executed from within a distributed database.

Alter a distributed database

The ALTER DATABASE command is only applied locally on the access node. This is because database-level configuration often needs to be different across nodes. For example, this is a setting that might differ depending on the CPU capabilities of the node:

ALTER DATABASE mydatabase SET max_parallel_workers TO 12;

The database names can also differ between nodes, even if the databases are part of the same distributed database. When you rename a data node's database, also make sure to update the configuration of the data node on the access node so that it references the new database name.

Drop a distributed database

When you drop a distributed database on the access node, it does not automatically drop the corresponding databases on the data nodes. In this case, you need to connect directly to each data node and drop the databases locally.

A distributed database is not automatically dropped across all nodes, because the information about data nodes lives within the distributed database on the access node, but it is not possible to read it when executing the drop command since it cannot be issued when connected to the database.

Additionally, if a data node has permanently failed, you need to be able to drop a database even if one or more data nodes are not responding.

It is also good practice to leave the data intact on a data node if possible. For example, you might want to back up a data node even after a database was dropped on the access node.

Alternatively, you can delete the data nodes with the drop_database option prior to dropping the database on the access node:

SELECT * FROM delete_data_node('dn1', drop_database => true);

Create, alter, and drop schemas

When you create, alter, or drop schemas, the commands are not automatically applied across all data nodes. A missing schema is, however, created when a distributed hypertable is created, and the schema it belongs to does not exist on a data node.

To manually create a schema across all data nodes, use the following command:

CREATE SCHEMA newschema;
CALL distributed_exec($$ CREATE SCHEMA newschema $$);

If a schema is created with a particular authorization, then the authorized role must also exist on the data nodes prior to issuing the command. The same things applies to altering the owner of an existing schema.

Prepare for role removal with DROP OWNED

The DROP OWNED command is used to drop all objects owned by a role and prepare the role for removal. Execute the following commands to prepare a role for removal across all data nodes in a distributed database:

CALL distributed_exec($$ DROP OWNED BY alice CASCADE $$);

Note, however, that the role might still own objects in other databases after these commands have been executed.

Manage privileges

Privileges configured using GRANT or REVOKE statements are applied to all data nodes when they are run on a distributed hypertable. When granting privileges on other objects, the command needs to be manually distributed with distributed_exec.

Set default privileges

Default privileges need to be manually modified using distributed_exec, if they are to apply across all data nodes. The roles and schemas that the default privileges reference need to exist on the data nodes prior to executing the command.

New data nodes are assumed to already have any altered default privileges. The default privileges are not automatically applied retrospectively to new data nodes.

Manage tablespaces

Nodes might be configured with different disks, and therefore tablespaces need to be configured manually on each node. In particular, an access node might not have the same storage configuration as data nodes, since it typically does not store a lot of data. Therefore, it is not possible to assume that the same tablespace configuration exists across all nodes in a multi-node cluster.

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