Postgres Conf 2018 Musings

Yours truly attended the Postgres Conf in Jersey City last week with my esteemed colleague Richard Jackson. It was quite a blast, to say the least...apart from not getting home until late Saturday afternoon. Ho hum.

PostgresConf 2018, Jersey City, USA

PostgreSQL Re-Cap

PostgreSQL, or Postgres for short, is an open source database first developed as a follow-on from Ingres. The Postgres prototype was shown at the ACM SIGMOD conference in 1988. Yes, that's 30 years ago.During the early 2000's, Postgres was frequently used as the basis to develop 'scale-out' clustered analytic platforms. Without Postgres there would be no Netezza, Paraccel, Redshift, Aster Data or Greenplum. So, even the new-fangled Postgres-based MPP platforms out there have a 15 year heritage.

Parallel Postgress

The senior team at VLDB (you know who you are!) were early adopters of all things 'parallel Postgres'. We delivered our first Netezza project in 2003 at Caudwell Communications, the fixed-line telecoms division of Phones-4-U.As early as 2003-04 we were also engaged with the early incarnations of Greenplum. We were there during the Metapa & Bizgres days. Scott hasn't aged a single day. Go figure!!!

Greenplum was MPP, which we liked. It was a 'parallel Postgres MPP', which we really liked. Most of all, unlike the other MPP offerings we'd used, Greenplum was - and still is - a 'software only' play. Now that's *really* interesting to a consulting outfit like VLDB that likes to 'roll your own'.

Greenplum Re-cap

After being founded in 2003, Greenplum the company was acquired by EMC in 2010.Pivotal Software was formed in 2013 as a spin-out from EMC and VMWare. Greenplum was duly added to Pivotal's software portfolio, hence 'Pivotal Greenplum'.

Pivotal decided to open source Greenplum in 2015. Greenplum thus became the 'World’s First Open Source MPP Data Warehouse', which we like, a lot. Did we mention that?

Back to PostgresConf 2018

Day 2 of the PostgresConf 2018 was the 'Greenplum summit'.The day kicked off with 'Greenplum: Building a Postgres Fabric for Large Scale Analytical Computation' presented by our good friend Jacque Istok, and our new friend Elisabeth Hendrickson.

Immediately following Jacque and Elisabeth was a presentation by Howard Goldberg from Morgan Stanley entitled 'Greenplum: A Pivotal Moment on Wall Street'. Jaw-dropping tales of 20PB (10x compressed) Greenplum databases aside, Howard is perhaps the funniest and most engaging speaker we've ever had the pleasure to encounter at a conference, and we've been to *lots* of conferences.'Fessing up to having Pivotal's Greenplum product manager Ivan Novick on speed-dial ahead of Mrs Goldberg had the audience in stitches. Fine work Howard!!!

How do you follow Howard? Well folks, Shaun Litt from Conversant Media did a mighty fine job with a session entitled 'Greenplum for Internet Scale Analytics and Mining'. We're not easily impressed when it comes to all things 'big' data, but when Shaun casually dropped 'quintillions of rows' into the session we all sat up and took notice...and then Googled just how big a quintillion actually is.

After a spot of lunch we were treated to 'Machine Learning, Graph, Text and Geospatial on Postgres and Greenplum' by Frank McQuillan and Bharath Sitaraman from Pivotal. A core component of the Greenplum offering is scalable, in-database machine learning, graph, analytics & statistics enabled by Apache MADlib. Pivotal has also put a lot of engineering effort into text search via the Apache Solr based GPText.The final Greenplum summit session we attended was 'Pivotal Greenplum in Action on AWS, Azure, and GCP' by Pivotal's Jon Roberts. This was of particular interest given that team VLDB have been deploying Greenplum on public cloud platforms such as Profitbricks, AWS, Azure and Google for years. Welcome to the public cloud party chaps!

As an aside, Jon maintains a most excellent blog at Highly recommended.

Pivotal IPO

After a very entertaining evening meal and a 'few drinks' with the folks from Pivotal and Blue Talon, on the Friday we headed over to the Pivotal office in NYC. This was no ordinary Friday for our friends at Pivotal ('Pivots'), no sir. Today was the day Pivotal went public via an IPO on the NASDAQ.

A big 'well done' to Greenplum founders Bill Cook and Scott Yara for their roles in bringing Pivotal to IPO. Oh, and 'Happy Birthday' to Bill for this week.The wine, champagne and strange blue drinks were handed out a-plenty at the Pivotal NYC office. A unique way to end a tech conference, for sure.

If you look carefully, you'll probably spot a couple of VLDB interlopers in the NYC team photo. Sorry for blocking the folks stuck behind us, it was quite a crush!

Conference Takeaways

Although this was a Postgres conference, the main focus for VLDB was the Greenplum summit. We've been fans and users of Greenplum database (GPDB) for a *long* time.The IRS, Morgan Stanley and Conversant can't all be wrong, surely?

Pivotal has gone 'all in' on Greenplum as the open source MPP platform to support analytics at any scale and complexity. It is perhaps informative to note that their is no mention of Hadoop on the Pivotal product page. No way did we call this out early last year...

And Finally...

In addition to the usual pillaging of the Macy's mens department, we managed to bring some Pivotal 'swag' home to the UK. Our two labradors, Molly and Ruby, enjoyed the foam rockets perhaps a little too much. A big thanks from both of them!