My Illustrated Guide to Postgres at PASS Data Summit 2023

Written by Claire Giordano
December 1, 2023

The topic of this month’s PGSQL Phriday #014 community blogging event—where people from different companies and different countries all blog about the same topic on the same day—is PostgreSQL Events. Big thanks to Pavlo Golub for organizing this month's PGSQL Phriday.

Deciding what event to blog about was a bit of a challenge—there are so many Postgres events worth shining a light on! Top of mind at this moment are PGConf EU which will happen in Prague in December—and the Path To Citus Con monthly podcast that I co-host for developers who love Postgres.

So what Postgres event did I choose for this PGSQL Phriday post?

I thought y’all might appreciate this “Illustrated Guide” to my Postgres experience at the PASS Data Community Summit 2023 which happened in Seattle, WA on November 14-17. Let’s dive in.

collage of event attendees
Figure 1: The og:image social graphic for this PGSQL Phriday blog post about the PASS Data Community Summit 2023.

What is PASS Data Community Summit?

Historically the PASS Data Community Summit focused on the SQL Server community, bringing together several thousand database people in the SQL community.

This year the organizers surprised the world by adding a focus on PostgreSQL as part of PASS. Which is how I ended up in chilly Seattle a few weeks ago.

screenshot of what is PASS Data Community Summit
Figure 2: Screenshot from the About page for PASS Data Community Summit 2023.

My PASS talk about contributing to the Postgres community

Like many conference speakers, I danced a jig when this talk was accepted for PASS. My talk on How to get involved with Postgres without being a PG expert is all about the many ways you can contribute to the Postgres community—beyond code.

And just like sailboat racing—in which every single person in the crew influences the final score—all these different types of contributions to Postgres are valuable. Slides on speakerdeck.

Figure 3: Slides from my Postgres talk at PASS Data Summit are on Speakerdeck, titled: How to get involved with Postgres without being a PG expert?

Pavlo Golub of Cybertec beat me to the Seattle Convention Center

I was on my way to the airport in San Francisco when I saw this tweet from Pavlo Golub, with photographic evidence that he was already in the house at the Seattle Convention Center. Proof positive I would not be the only Postgres person. :)

Dry run for the Microsoft keynote at PASS

After my Microsoft teammates learned I was going to PASS, they invited me to give one of the keynote demos in Shireesh Thota’s Microsoft keynote. What a kick. If you’ve ever given a talk with over 1,000 people in the audience, you already know there is a spike in adrenalin when you walk up on stage and see So. Many. People.

The day before the keynote, we did a complete, on-stage, in-person dry run at the Seattle Convention Center for the keynote.

Then the keynote happened, with a demo of azure_ai for Azure Database for PostgreSQL

Good thing Shireesh Thota’s Microsoft keynote about Data and Innovation in an AI world was on the morning of Day 1, that way I could knock it out of the park early and switch gears to focus on all the rest of the Postgres talks at PASS.

Still, to be part of this team of experienced keynote speakers was great fun. Anna Hoffman, Bob Ward, and Conor Cunningham are much-loved in the SQL database world. I’m so glad I took my shot and said yes to giving this keynote demo.

And the feedback on the azure_ai demo with pgvector and Azure Database for PostgreSQL - Flexible Server was out of this world. I’ll drop a link to the demo here as soon as it gets published on YouTube. In the meantime, here is a link to Denzil Ribeiro’s blog post introducing azure_ai.

Christophe Pettus & Ryan Lambert gave the first dedicated Postgres talks

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to either Christophe’s or Ryan’s talks (presented right after my keynote demo, so I was in recovery mode) but I want to mention their talks here because the topics are so relevant. There's much to be excited about in Postgres 16 (including pg_stat_io)—and Ryan Lambert spoke about one of my favorite topics: Postgres extensions.

  • What’s New in Postgres 16 by Christophe Pettus of PGX
  • PostgreSQL: Extensions Shape the Future by Ryan Lambert of Rust Proof Labs slides available here

Arda Aytekin’s talk about Advanced AI scenarios with Azure Database for PostgreSQL

What a pleasure to see this deeper dive talk about the azure_ai demo I gave in the Microsoft keynote. Arda is a brilliant AI specialist and while we had already worked together remotely, it was quite a happy moment to finally meet Arda in person. Here is the @AzureDBPostgres tweet about Arda’s talk on azure_ai.

Pavlo Golub’s talk about Professional PostgreSQL Scheduling Made Easy

Pavlo’s talk walks you through everything you might want to know about an open source scheduling tool he created called pg_timetable. It was a challenge getting a good photo of Pavlo because he gesticulates so much, his hands are constantly in motion! But I finally managed to capture this shot of Pavlo on stage.

Jeremy Schneider gave 2 Postgres talks at PASS this year

Jeremy Schneider is one of the Seattle PostgreSQL Users Group organizers. And at PASS Data Summit this year, Jeremy prolifically presented 2 different talks.

His 1st talk was on Wait! What’s going on Inside my Database! and Jeremy’s 2nd talk was on String Comparison Surprises: Did Postgres lose my data?

Ryan Booz of Redgate wore lots of hats at PASS, but the best one was “Postgres speaker”

When I swung by Ryan’s talk about PostgreSQL: From install to first query, the room was full. But none of the Ryan-on-stage pictures turned out. So I snapped this pic of Ryan later that day, right before Ryan facilitated a panel discussion. About Postgres of course!

Panel discussion on Preparing PostgreSQL for the Next Wave of Users

Ryan Booz facilitated a panel discussion with Ryan Lambert, Pavlo Golub, myself, Rob Treat, and Christophe Pettus where we covered all sorts of Postgres territory. It was fun!

+1 to Jeremy Schneider who tweeted these pics of the Postgres panel from the audience—and asked some good questions too.

Hallway track led to an informal Postgres Friends community dinner

Not everyone could make it to this serendipitous, last-minute dinner—and I didn’t even manage to reach and invite all of the Postgres speakers at the PASS Data Community Summit—but hey, we got a quorum!

In the photo I shared below, clockwise starting from me (I’m in the red shirt) are Claire Giordano, Chelsea Dole of Brex, Pavlo Golub of Cybertec, Tatiana Krupenya the CEO of dBeaver, Rob Treat (with the blue Postgres hat), Grant McAlister and Jeremy Scheider both of AWS, and Grant Fritchey and Ryan Booz both of Redgate.

Rob Treat’s talk titled “Think Like a Postgres”

Rob Treat is a good explainer and people must have figured that out because Rob’s Think Like a Postgres talk was packed. If you get the chance to see Rob Treat give a talk, you’ll love the way Rob explains complicated Postgres things in a way that somehow makes it seem quite understandable.

And in other news—Rob Treat, along with Lukas Fittl of pganalyze, is going to be a guest on the Path To Citus Con podcast which will be recorded live on Wed Dec 6th 2023. The topic will be My Journey into Postgres Monitoring. And while you can listen to the podcast episode anytime, like when you’re washing the dishes or walking the dog... it can be fun to participate in the live text chat on Discord, that takes place in parallel to the podcast recording. So here is your own personal calendar invite to Path To Citus Con Ep10.

Chelsea Dole’s talk about Postgres at Scale: Vacuum, MVCC & Table Bloat

I did not get to attend Chelsea’s talk because our talks were at the same time, so unfortunately the audience had to pick between Chelsea’s topic and mine. Good thing Pavlo managed to live tweet about Chelsea’s talk at PASS since I couldn’t be there.

Chelsea is a really good presenter. Which is why many of us are glad she’s been sharing her learnings on the Postgres conference circuit this year. In fact, Chelsea gave a talk at Citus Con: An Event for Postgres back in April, titled Understanding & Managing Postgres Table Bloat. If you care about Postgres bloat (who doesn’t?), you’ll like this talk.

My talk about How to get involved with Postgres without being a PG expert

There are lots of ways to contribute to the Postgres community beyond code—and hopefully those who attended walked away with actionable ideas about how they can get involved.

Pictures of me on stage courtesy of Ryan Booz on Twitter. (And Pavlo Golub on Mastodon, too.)

Charles Feddersen’s talk on what’s new in Azure Database for PostgreSQL

I attended the talk my Australian boss Charles Feddersen gave on Friday about all things new in Azure Database for PostgreSQL – Flexible Server. And I managed to live tweet this during Charles’s talk.

Charles’s talk covered all the new features, including these fan favorites:

A few more Postgres talks I wished I had the chance to see

There were over 20 Postgres talks at PASS, likely more. I wish I had seen these 4 talks in particular... am looking forward to the videos.

  • Practical Memory Tuning for Postgres by Grant McAlister
  • Reasons why Developers Choose Azure Database for PostgreSQL by Denzil Ribeiro
  • Speaking and Community Involvement for the Introvert by Pat Wright, who I first met at PGConf NYC 2022, where he was one of the organizers. +1 to Pavlo for tweeting about Pat’s talk at PASS
  • Exploring Azure Cosmos DB for PostgreSQL by Jean Joseph

The PostgreSQL Booth at the PASS Data Summit

I did not spend much time on the expo floor, I was mostly in the hallway track or in the Postgres sessions themselves. Look at how much buzz there was around the Postgres booth!

Grant Fritchey of Redgate sporting a new & blue Postgres hat

I met Grant Fritchey of Redgate earlier this year when he was a guest on the “Path To Citus Con” podcast—along with Ryan Booz—for an episode about My favorite ways to learn more about Postgres.

Grant has 30+ years of died-in-the-wool SQL database expertise, and recently he’s been engaging more and more in Postgres. This Postgres hat seems to fit Grant quite well.

It’s a wrap! Many thanks to PASS organizers for including Postgres this year

So happy to see old Postgres friends and meet some new Postgres friends at PASS Data Summit too. It’s a ton of work to organize a conference, so much respect to the team at Redgate for making it look so easy. And for including Postgres in the mix this year.

Here is my official “it’s a wrap” post that includes a link to the slides from my talk about How to get involved with Postgres without being a PG expert.

Props to Pavlo Golub for making PGSQL Phriday #014 happen

Thanks Pavlo for organizing the December 2023 PGSQL Phriday and to Ryan Booz for organizing PGSQL Phridays to begin with!

blue elephants at a conference table
Figure 4: The invitation from Pavlo Golub for this month’s PGSQL Phriday about PostgreSQL Events that inspired me to write this post.

Honorable mentions, other favorite Postgres events

These 2 PostgreSQL events deserve an honorable mention and almost were the focal point for this PGSQL Phriday blog post.

Claire Giordano

Written by Claire Giordano

Head of open source community efforts for Postgres at Microsoft. Alum of Citus Data, Amazon, Sun Microsystems, and Brown University CS. Conference speaker at PGConfEU, PGConfdev, FOSDEM, PGConf NYC, Nordic PGDay, pgDay Paris, PGDay Chicago, Swiss PGDay, & Citus Con. Talk Selection Team chair for POSETTE: An Event for Postgres. Loves sailing in Greece.

@clairegiordano clairegiordano