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PostgresBuild 2021 Session Highlights: Bruce Momjian on Future Postgres Challenges

EDB Team1/10/2022
EventsPostgreSQL

In case you missed EDB’s recent global virtual conference, Postgres Build 2021, we’re recapping some of the favorite and most influential sessions from the event. 

Today, we’re diving into Future Postgres Challenges, with EDB’s own Vice President, Postgres Evangelist Bruce Momjian! 

Bruce’s presentation offers a window into the ways that Postgres can continue to improve alongside its community, offering insights that will provide the foundation for the future of the solution so many rely on. He also emphasizes key hurdles that businesses invested in Postgres databases should look out for, including:

  • Project Challenges
  • Competitor Challenges
  • Technical Challenges

 

What the future holds for Postgres

One of the reasons that businesses looking to move databases to the cloud opt for Postgres as opposed to legacy database providers is the future-proofing benefits that Postgres provides. This is one of the key strengths of open source technologies: they evolve and grow with their communities, who are able to weigh in and tailor said solutions in a way that’s just not possible with a major provider. 

While Bruce Momjian has previously spoken to this resilience and growth—even hosting a talk entitled Will Postgres Live Forever?—he notes that that is only one face of the coin. In order to understand Postgres as an evolving and mutable solution, we also must recognize the roadblocks and deficiencies it might encounter in coming years.

 

State of the Postgres union

With over 35 years of development—dating all the way back to 1986—and over 25 years of annual major releases, Postgres is renowned for the consistency of its development. In fact, not only do each of those annual releases average around 180 features, but the solution strives to provide additional minor releases on a quarterly basis. In fact, over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Postgres' annual release included more than 200 features—a clear demonstration of the community’s dedication to the growth of the technology.

These factors, combined with Postgres' BSD licensing structure has given the solution a reputation for evolution and longevity, hand in hand.

 

Are there clouds on the horizon?

So, what do organizations invested in Postgres have to worry about? While none of the challenges on the horizon are anywhere near catastrophic, Momjian emphasized that each must be taken seriously by an enterprise that actually wants to reap the benefits of Postgres. 

Project challenges

The first area to look at is problems of perception. These don’t necessarily apply to the technology undergirding Postgres, but rather to the perception of the open source project as a whole.

As Bruce notes, there have been a number of open source solutions whose leadership have decided to abandon their creations recently. While in some cases, other developers who believe in the mission of the solution will step in to resurrect the project, instances like these can make businesses wary of open source as a sustainable path for their future.

Another area which organizations should keep an eye on is reputation, and any issues that could cause problems for Postgres' standing among users. This can include anything from outages to security flaws to buggy releases; and, while Postgres has done a fantastic job fixing issues and filling gaps when they arise, open source solutions are particularly vulnerable to reputational bruises, especially considering how involved their communities are.

Beyond these, there are other nuanced issues to which Postgres users should pay attention to, including:

  • Patent Attacks
  • Identity Challenges to Domains and Trademarks
  • Cloud Vendor Starvation

While Postgres has been lucky to avoid these hurdles for the most part, each could destabilize a business and limit the utility, accessibility, and functionality of their databases. 

Competitive challenges

Postgres thrives based on the involvement and evolution of its community. While this remains one of its greatest strengths, it also poses a number of challenges in an ever-expanding and increasingly saturated market. After all, if competitors spirit away large chunks of the Postgres community to their own solutions, then the growth and efficacy of the Postgres project could slow or stall.

The first thing to realize is the wide variety of solutions and solution types out in the world. While Postgres is a relational solution (along with a number of other major players), businesses also have the options of:

  • Embedded
  • Document
  • Columnar
  • Data warehouse
  • Full text search
  • Time series

Each of these solution types have reasons to recommend them, and those invested in Postgres and the relational database strategy in general should pay attention.

Technical Challenges

Finally, we come to technical challenges. These are more inherent to Postgres than any of the other categories we’ve previously discussed, which in many ways make them the most vital, and perhaps most controversial.

While Momjian does emphasize his belief that Postgres is in a very good place, he also notes that there are issues that should be anticipated, and potholes that can be paved over before they blow out your business’ tires. Here are the key ones:

  • Write Amplification
  • Cluster File Encryption, TDE
  • Horizontal Scaling
  • Obsolete Toolchain
  • Drastic Technology Changes

 

Challenges precede opportunities

Postgres, like so many open source projects, is renowned for its ability to evolve with the businesses that rely on it. With every challenge its users recognize, the technology only grows stronger. That’s why Bruce Momjian and EDB have so much faith in it.

If you want to watch Bruce Momjian’s session in full and drive deeper into the challenges and opportunities he sees for the future of Postgres, you can check out his and all PostgresBuild on-demand sessions here!