AWS Neptune LOB Support

Debugging errors with DMS migrations from Postgresql

I had AWS’ Data Migration Service (DMS) working for a single Postgresql table I was working with, but when I moved onto a 2nd table weird things would happen.

What’s an LOB?

Poking around in the CloudWatch logs I found the following:

Column 'foo' is unsupported in table def '' since the LOB support is disabled

LOB? What’s a LOB? Large Binary Objects? I don’t have anything like that in my Postgres table?

Turns out one thing that was different about this new table was that several columns were using the TEXT type. Unlike VARCHAR, TEXT isn’t bound to a specific length and can be used for storing paragraphs of information. As a result, DMS handles it as a NCLOB when ingesting the data.

So the issue was that the TEXT datatype is a LOB.

Well, DMS has settings for enabling LOB support.

But turning on LOB support was not working. I experimented with several of the setting combinations but nothing was working.

After a little more digging in the logs I found this message:

LOBs are not supported by target. LOB support is disabled

DMS supports a number of sources (Postgres) and targets (Neptune).

So it seems that LOBs aren’t supported For DMS to Neptune. This wasn’t documented anywhere, although I did come across a couple of bits of documentation and stack overflow posts that hinted at this being a possibility. So no matter what LOB settings I tweak, those setting are getting ignored.

Disappointing and it seems that DMS has a lot of little edge cases like this depending on what your sources and targets are.

Wouldn’t LOBs be bad in Neptune?

Probably. Large objects can especially be a problem if you are searching them as part of a query. In my case these DB columns could have easily been short length VARCHARs instead. Often the choice to use TEXT is made because the length of the data isn’t yet known and there is a fear that it will be longer than any length choice made. If you are facing a similar challenge to this one you should measure the size of your data and decide if the solution below is a good one or if you should reconsider where that data should live as part of your migration.

The work-around is to create a VIEW where the types are changed to something that isn’t a LOB.

  SELECT id, CAST(name AS VARCHAR(10)), CAST(email AS VARCHAR(60)) 
  FROM bar;

DMS does support ingesting a VIEW, but you need to set table-type in your Mapping Rules as part of your Database Migration Task.

  "rules": [
      "rule-type": "selection",
      "rule-id": "1",
      "rule-name": "1",
      "object-locator": {
        "schema-name": "%",
        "table-name": "foo",
        "table-type": "all"
      "rule-action": "include",
      "filters": []
Edward Romano Written by:

I dabble in, and occasionally obsess over, technology and problems that bug me