Coming to Prague was something that had been in my planning for quite a while. And what should have been a smooth preparation, turned into a fascinating journey. As I dare consider myself a part of this fantastic PostgreSQL community, skipping PGConf.EU 2023 would be an impossible thought.
Thanks to CYBERTEC and the personal engagement of our CEO Hans-Jürgen Schönig, we pulled it off! As we could witness in the keynote from Simon Riggs (who is not making a glory-full comeback), working with and supporting Postgres will keep us well-occupied for the next 2 decades. We also have our challenges for the next 20 years lined out and I believe 2024 will be a very important year for all of us. I have some more thoughts on the keynote below.
On a very personal note, attending PGConf.EU 2023 became even more important to me. As my professional journey had taken a very sudden and unplanned turn, ensuring the connection with the community was vital. Meeting many of the people that have played important roles in my career over the last decade, and sharing some of the latest and greatest news had me quite excited indeed.
For CYBERTEC, attending PGConf.EU 2023 would mean one of the largest team efforts to date. With 20 of our PostgreSQL professionals, we were present at the Clarion Congress Hotel. As the first Platinum sponsor, our stand was nicely situated in the center, between runners-up EnterpriseDB and Microsoft. The jetfighter switches from the Postgres high-availability case sparked many good conversations on database architecture and the importance of availability for your critical applications.
We arrived in Prague as part of a fairly large group of Postgres experts, flying in from Amsterdam airport on Tuesday afternoon.
After a swift taxi trip, we made it to the Clarion Congress Hotel, which is situated just outside of the city center of beautiful Prague. With Wednesday being the first day of 3 fully packed days we decided not to burn our midnight oil at the start and headed for an early bed like good folks do.
The first real impression of the conference, like all impressions after that, for the PGConf.EU 2023 edition, only one word goes; hats off.
- The venue
- The organization
- The staff
- The sessions
- The people
- The social event
- The hotel
- The colleague-vendors
- The hotel-bar
- The Postgres-spirit
- 42 (*)
This conference again had the incredible opportunity of day-care. As the organizing committee always chooses very pleasant hotels in very pleasant locations, another threshold for attending and participating is slayed. Especially this year, with the city of Prague and its scenery, with the Christmas markets and the lights. With the hotel very conveniently connected to public transportation, it is a breeze to get around. Spacious rooms, very good breakfast, and all amenities available.
It all worked, it all made sense and it all contributed to the celebration of Tech that a conference of this nature needs to be. With everything (except for lunch) situated on one single floor, there were a lot of natural encounters, discussions, and debates. Actually, with the lunch being on another floor, it introduced more dynamic and spontaneous encounters. Truly, Postgres Europe team, you set another high bar for 2024.
The interesting thing that can be witnessed over the years is how conferences and our community is evolving.
From the early years, with just a good handful of attendees to today. Over 720 people from all over the world flock to this single venue to share their experiences and Passion for Postgres at PGConf.eu. A group of people that extends beyond just “techies” and “nerds”. Today, attendees range from business to technical leadership and from C-code programmers to front-end developers. As the picture shows, nearly half of the professional developers state that Postgres is their tool of choice, with MySQL as a runner-up, a whopping 10% behind.
It is impossible to mention everyone I talked to here. Especially after some of the recent changes in my professional life, there were uncountable folks I wanted to meet and talk to, and it seemed, also the other way around, which made me very happy.
Nevertheless, a few stood out. The chance to meet the father of Postgres, my dear ex-colleague and friend, founder of the PostgreSQL Global Development Group, Mr. Bruce Momjian. But also some of the other Postgres core team members, such as Dave Page, Magnus Hagander, and Peter Eisentraut. This would also be the place for a few (somewhat random) special shout-outs:
- Alicja Kucharcrzyk
- Boriss Mejías
- Borys Neselovskyi
- Damir Bulic
- Daniel Westermann
- Derk van Veen
- Ellert van Koperen
- Francesco Tisiot
- Marcus Winand
- Pavel Stěhule
- Phil Marks
- Sven Bernhard
CYBERTEC Sessions at PGConf.eu
With our team of experts, we made an effort to contribute to the learning experience that a Postgres conference is. We were honored with the acceptance of a total of 9 sessions and a training session on Tuesday by Matthias Grömmer, on Postgres in Kubernetes.
- Performance tricks you have never seen before 2.0, Hans-Jürgen Schönig
- The migration puzzle, Bernd Helmle
- How to corrupt your database, Laurenz Albe
- Counting things at the speed of light, Ants Aasma
- Using Ansible to herd your Elephants!, Julian Markwort
- Why using Open Source PostgreSQL matters, Hans-Jürgen Schönig
- PostgreSQL replication: 20 pitfalls and solutions, Julian Markwort
- PostgreSQL and Kubernetes, Matthias Grömmer
- Professional PostgreSQL monitoring made easy, Pavlo Golub
Other highlights at PGConf.eu
For me, some of the other remarkable sessions were:
- Explaining the PostgreSQL concurrency control mechanisms, Derk van Veen of Adyen
- Should I use JSON in PostgreSQL, Boriss Mejías of EDB
- Logical decoding on Standby, Bertrand Drouvot of AWS
And there were even a lot more sessions that set that bar on the content for the conference incredibly high, once again. I regret that I missed some of the other incredibly important content, but many sessions were recorded this year and many speakers have made their slides available through the PGConf.EU website.
I want to come back to the opening keynote by PostgreSQL’s very own Simon Riggs. In his presentation about Postgres in the next 20 years, he addressed the proverbial “Elephant in the room”.
“The development of Postgres is going in at least seven different directions at the same time.”, words spoken to me by Bruce Momjian, when I was starting in the world of Postgres. What we are starting to see over the last couple of years, is that some of these developments are becoming big. Big in the sense that they are complex and intrusive. Additionally, new areas are emerging where the development of Postgres needs to address “core maintenance”, with things like direct IO for the storage subsystem for example.
Simon’s proposal of creating a foundation of versioned subsystems that comprise the PostgreSQL server sounds like a reasonable and practical solution for this. By having independent groups build and govern the different subsystems of Postgres, the required velocity can come to Postgres’ development. Additionally, users would be able to pick and choose in which areas they want to adopt some of the new features and areas where the stability of the traditional technology needs to prevail.
I think this proposal needs serious consideration for adoption.
A brave new world
All in all, looking back at the conference and reflecting on things that were and things that will be, I feel Postgres is moving forward to a new chapter.
We will need to look at almost every aspect of what we do with this great technology and make the necessary changes, without losing the unique character of both the community and the development processes. That feels like an almost impossible task. We have, though, some of the brightest minds on the planet working on Postgres and working in the world surrounding this technology. If we cannot pull this off, no one can.
Looking at how we restructure the development of the server, in its core. We need to look at the diversity of companies contributing to this development, where we are now observing fewer, but much bigger organizations contributing. This is a very welcome thing, in itself, but the diversity of viewpoints is what drives this unique development environment.
And the challenge is on! With the continuing drive, fueled by the commercialization of IT. Big new buzzwords like Microservices for application development, AI (hey, you can’t write a relevant blog post in 2023 and not mention AI), and old buzzwords like schemaless application development or BigData. One thing all of this has in common is that it is driven by data. As we saw in Hans-Jürgen’s keynote, the data we collect today will outlive me, will outlive you, and will outlive any system we know today. With Postgres you can check off the requirement for data freedom and data portability, contributing significantly to the survival of your data during the years to come.
In the end, it will take every one of us to help ensure we successfully enter and thrive in this brave new world.
My conclusion of PGConf.EU
How hard is it to summarize your concluding thoughts one a conference like this onePGConf.EU 2023?
Not hard at all!
As a few people before me have already concluded, it has been a blast.
I also think we have our homework cut out for us, for 2024 and the next 20 years.
There will be hard nuts to crack, for sure. But there continues to be a lot to be proud of. Things that have been created in the last 20 years and things that have been put in scaffolding to be built over the next few years or the next few versions of the server.
From a very personal point of view, 2024 will mark a new chapter in which I hope to serve this community in an even closer role. Not as a programmer (one of the things I have not mastered to the required level…) but as an advocate and sponsor.
So, this post started with “So long, and thanks for all the fish”. It is; “today is the first day of the rest of your life!” Until we meet again, somewhere, somehow, sometime!
Ah yes, and before I forget:
Slava Ukraini! – Слава Україні!