PostgresBuild 2021 Session Highlights: Jan Karremans on PostgreSQL's Enduring Appeal

January 21, 2022

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 EDB Global Director of Product Marketing Jan Karremans’ session entitled PostgreSQL Still Going Strong? Jan boasts experience in sales, sales engineering, and more. Additionally he’s achieved the title of Oracle ACE Alumni. Not only is he finely tuned to the nuances of EDB’s own solutions, but also in both the PostgreSQL and general DBMS landscape. Over the course of his presentation, he discusses key topics such as:

  • the history of open source technology
  • the power of Community open source software
  • the genealogy of relational database systems 
  • why PostgreSQL continues to grow

Understanding the PostgreSQL story

At the top of the session, Karremans proclaims that the story of PostgreSQL is “a story of competitive advantage.” As he explains, while the core drive of the PostgreSQL project has never been a monetary one—often a key metric that businesses consider when using the word “competitive”—the solution has carved out its own competitive advantage: practical usability. Thanks to the combined thinking of all the people contributing to the project, PostgreSQL has stood side by side with industry titans like Oracle and Microsoft; and understanding how it’s achieved this is critical to understanding its underlying strength and its future trajectory.

Or, to quote from Karremans himself: “Only by looking back, can we understand and re-evaluate certain decisions, remain conscious of why they were made, and decide if and how to change. Learning and evolving is stacking experiences and mistakes together in such a way that they enable us to do new things.”

The four keys to understanding the future of PostgreSQL

As he moves through his session, Jan Karremans highlights four critical subjects, explaining the course of PostgreSQL up to this moment, and what lies ahead. While he goes into more detail about each in his full presentation, we’ll touch on each briefly here.

  • History: The history of PostgreSQL is inextricably linked to the history of open source technologies, and the separation of hardware and software. Since that moment, open source projects have rapidly evolved and differentiated themselves. One example of this is the Vendor Open Source/Community Open Source Split. This is a key development in source technology. Community OSS (like PostgreSQL) offers a wide range of freedoms, but also puts the burden of management on the community. For those less interested in total flexibility at the expense of stability, this can be daunting. Vendor OSS takes the pressure off your team to evolve the solution, but the trade-off is a tighter leash on how much customization you can achieve.
  • Interactions: Because PostgreSQL is a relational database system, it relies on interactions. The more users of a piece of software built in PostgreSQL, the more effective and economically viable the software becomes, growing at an exponential rate. The bigger the network of users, the more feedback and data available to developers, which makes it easier for both users and developers alike to impact the evolution of an application. 
  • Ecosystem: PostgreSQL is never going to be the only tool in your stack, even if it’s the cornerstone. Because of this, organizations are constantly experimenting with here PostgreSQL “lives” in their stack, what other solutions it interacts with, and how they can build out an architecture that leverages PostgreSQL to empower all their other tools, while leveraging those tools to better understand how to evolve their use of PostgreSQL. Perhaps the most obvious example of this has been cloud solutions. 
  • Booming Growth: PostgreSQL isn’t just going strong. According to Karremans, PostgreSQL is “hot, hip, and happening.” Because PostgreSQL is built and improved by the people who use and rely on it, the project has seen continual growth that only hastens the more businesses that join the community. We hear about new use cases and more exciting applications so frequently we lose track, because the foundation of a Community OSS like PostgreSQL is the innovative spirit of its adherents.

If you want to watch Jan Karremans’ session in full and learn more about the exciting history of open source and the complex evolution of PostgreSQL, you can check out his and all PostgresBuild on-demand sessions here!

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