Becoming Inspired at PGConf.EU

November 15, 2018

The EDB team recently returned from the 10th Annual PostgreSQL Conference Europe, and I was fortunate enough to participate in this fantastic event. The conference schedule was full of informative sessions from some of the leading names in the Postgres World. I attended almost 20 sessions during the conference, as many as I could fit! Several left a real impression on me, starting with “Pluggable Storage in Postgres”.

Pluggable Storage is Cool

Why pluggable storage? First of all, pluggable storage is a cool subject for many things. It adds yet another extensibility option to PostgreSQL, which makes it a very powerful platform and ‘multi-vendor development’ possible. Andres Freund gave a very interesting talk about that subject, and also provided some interesting ‘community insiders’ information about the many enhancements and cleanups they did to support the technology. In the future, development on storage engines will be a far easier process and it will be possible to create special storage engines for specific use cases, vs. one size fits all.

The Promise of zHeap

Then, of course, there was a great presentation around zHeap, the promising answer to PostgreSQL bloat woes. zHeap is a perfect example of a great new pluggable storage engine, not to replace MVCC (IMO), but rather to add to the stack of solutions. It will create a hybrid solution where Postgres can use MVCC for all workloads where Postgres currently does best while also having a solution for situations in which Postgres is (at this moment) weaker that other RDBMS solutions.

I also attended GPU and NVME acceleration, the heterogeneous architecture based on GPU and NVME-SSD, for acceleration of typical big-data queries. KaiGai has a very powerful story here about the possibility to offload direct query processing to the storage layer and increase throughput. This technology is one of the key elements of Oracle Exadata, and now this technology is in Postgres.

Hacking Postgres

These and a few other topics have inspired me with to advance my work with Postgres with curiosity. For example, after the “Hacking Postgres” session, I am now really enthusiastic about doing some coding. I will start posting ideas on the developers threads and I see what others think. Parallel to that, I will work on adding to them, for now just to learn, but in the future, maybe even to contribute.

And of course, the talks about GPU+NVME, AutoPlan Tuning, pluggable storage, and zHeap have inspired me to challenge myself to think outside of the box. I am going to take a second look at the the current storage solutions available and consider alternatives that could expand the use cases for Postgres in things like columnar storage, and other storage backends.

Why is this Event Special?

Most importantly, I am now inspired to further my participation in Postgres. Of course, the event was very valuable to attend as an ideal way to keep up to date. But, what makes this event really special is the community itself—the way they collaborate, their professionalism, and the way they are set up, like the ’no majority’ rule, for example. I am eager for next year, and I hope to present a talk of my own and join the Lightning Talks.

Finally, I was aware that EDB does a lot or work in the PostgreSQL community, but now I know even more about what we are building and the other work we do, and I am truly impressed. We are doing very important work to further PostgreSQL development. I was fortunate to spend time with Amit Kapila, Rafia Samih, and Andres Freund while in attendance, and gathered some great insights. I have always been proud to work for EDB, but now, even more so.  

So, in closing, if you did not have a chance to attend PGConf.EU this year, then you missed out! But, if you have a chance to go next year, I would highly recommend it. You will find everything you would want to know about Postgres, learn about future solutions, have a chance to meet with very knowledgeable people, and be challenged to think outside of the box. Soon, your mind will be spinning, thinking about all the ways you can extend use of Postgres, just like mine. And, that is what ultimately fuels the vibrance of the PostgreSQL community– creativity, ideas, sharing, and the building of what comes next for PostgreSQL as a community.

Speaking of vibrancy, I would be remiss if I did not give a nod to Devrim Gündüz’s presentation on “What's Old in PostgreSQL”. It was unexpected and a lot of fun. Devrim engaged the audience to talk about a long list of features no longer needed due to the evolution of PostgreSQL–which is only possible because of the community. And, in trademark Devrim style, he ended the session by taking a selfie with an appreciative an enthusiastic audience, cheering for PostgreSQL!


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