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Impressions of the PgConf Europe 2015

27th to 30th October in Vienna, Austria
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Boris and the blue elephant

In mid-April I shared with you how important good communities are for the success of open source projects. I had a good feeling about the PostgreSQL community as soon as I attended their devroom in FOSDEM and now, after attending the PgConf Europe, I'm delighted to become part of this great community. Here are some of my impressions of the conference.

PgConf Europe took place from 27th to 30th October in Vienna, Austria, where I didn't see any kangaroos, but I did meet a blue elephant. I'll come back to this later in the post. The attendees were PostgreSQL core developers, consultant experts, DBAs and users, and it was definitely not a sales event. The talks were very technical, targeting not only an advanced and intermediate audience but also beginners. This is very important because they understand that to have a good community, it's crucial to be welcoming to new members. In fact, they also showed us a preview of the new PostgreSQL website which now targets newcomers. The old members already know where to find what they need. This attitude dovetails well with the ideas presented by Tamara Atanasoska in her Keynote, when she reminded us how important is to **listen** to community members.

Must know

At the BRIC,  we have been hosting Oracle, MS SQL and MySQL for several years now. PostgreSQL is one of the newcomers in our organization and we are constantly increasing our knowledge of the system so as to improve our service. There were several interesting talks that helped us in our quest to master PostgreSQL. Of these, I can select:

VACUUM, Freezing & Avoiding Wraparound, by Simon Riggs

Backup and Recovery using PITR, by Mark Jones

HA strategy, properly done, by Martín Marqués

In the data center

The topics mentioned above are applicable to each PostgreSQL server instance. But since at the BRIC we manage a data centre, we are always searching for better ways to automate our services. In this context, it was very interesting to learn about using Redis, Logstash and ElasticSearch for a more integrated logging system. To find out about using Ansible to manage multiple instances, about using Docker to run PostgreSQL inside a container and about the CERN Database as a Service (DBaaS) infrastructure:

- Integrating PostgreSQL with Logstash for real-time monitoring, by Gabriele Bartolini, Marco Nenciarini.

- Managing PostgreSQL with Ansible, by Gulcin Yildirim

- Dockerizing a Larger PostgreSQL Installation: What could possibly go wrong?, by Mladen Marinović

- How to provide your own DBaaS: a practical story, by Ruben Gaspar Aparicio

The blue elephant

One of my parameters to evaluate the quality of a conference is the number of talks I miss because I'm attending another interesting talk at the same time. This was certainly the case at PgConf Europe. I missed several good ones. The list I wrote above contains just a selection I can make from the talks I was able to attend. Don't take this as the best of the conference.

Now let me come back to the blue elephant. It might be seen as a little childish detail to have someone dressed up as the PostgreSQL elephant, but I believe it gives us a glimpse of the passion that community members show for their project. It demonstrates that they have fun with their software and among their peers. For instance, I enjoyed watching Gianni Ciolli explaining high availability with knives and bottle tops at lunch. PgConf Europe was definitely a great environment in which to learn about PostgreSQL.

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