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Speaker Interview with Chris Ellis

Could you briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Chris, tend to refer to myself as an IT jack of all trades (master of none). I studied Electronic Engineering but moonlighted as a Software Engineer whilst at University and kept doing that. I tend to find my skills and interests traverse the entire stack, I’m as happy playing with servers and wires as I am with agile web development. My background in hardware has been very useful when dealing with the IoT domain.
I’ve always been curious about how things work and building things for as long as I can remember. I think this is one reason why I have such a broad knowledge base, personally I believe that the best solutions come from the whole stack working together.
I’ve been working with PostgreSQL for 15 odd years now, it’s been a constant throughout my career, it still holds my interest and enthusiasm. Plus everyone in the PostgreSQL community is welcoming and open, we really are awesome.
How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?
Mostly via community conferences and events. I listen to the mailing lists and occasionally post. Sometimes I pop into IRC, just depends what is going on. I try to advocate PostgreSQL anywhere I can and hope to contribute code someday.
Have you enjoyed previous or FOSDEM conferences, either as an attendee or as speaker?
I’ve always enjoyed attending the PostgreSQL conferences, I think I’m in a small group of people who have been to 5 times (soon 6), back in 2010 for the first time. I’ve also been to FOSDEM the last few years and the UK pgdays. This will be my 2nd time speaking at, a fun but nervous prospect.
What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?
My talk is about using PostgreSQL for Internet of Things situations. I’ll be talking about the wide and varied nature of this domain and covering various PostgreSQL features which are of benefit to applications in this space. I hope my talk will get people to think, more than answer questions.
I’ve worked on a number of projects throughout my career which have used PostgreSQL and I consider to be IoT. Some of them before IoT was even a term let alone a buzzword. I always try to base my talks around projects I’ve worked on and this seems like an interesting area that people often overlook PostgreSQL for.
What is the audience for your talk?
I’m keeping my talk reasonably general, we won’t be deep diving into specific features at length. This is more about explaining the problem domain, what you need to think about and what ways PostgreSQL can help you.
What existing knowledge should the attendee have?
A basic knowledge of PostgreSQL is all that is needed. An interest in the IoT space would be a bonus.
What is the one feature in PostgreSQL 12 which you like most?
This is a hard one, there are some many great improvements in things like Partitioning and JIT. Plus some cool new features like SQL/JSON, reindex concurrently and planner support functions.
But I think I’m most interested in Table Access Methods, this doesn’t really help many users day to day. However I think it will bring more innovation to PostgreSQL we’ve been able to plug and play lots of other parts of PostgreSQL until now, this just makes PostgreSQL even more extensible.
Which other talk at this year's conference would you like to see?
I’m looking forward to the Lightning Talks the most, I really love that format and love hearing all the crazy things other people have been doing. It’s always high energy and a great atmosphere and has been a highlight each year I’ve been. That being said there are plenty of great looking talks that I want to make.
Which measure, action, feature or activity would—in your eyes—help to accelerate the adoption of PostgreSQL?
I think the flexibility of PostgreSQL has been the key to its success and this is often something I evangelise about. To my mind this stems for two things, PostgreSQL’s extensible architecture and the community around it.
We have a very passionate community which works to add a whole range of random and competing features. The project is going in multiple directions simultaneously. This really has allowed us to innovate quickly and remain competitive against other offerings.
I still find it amazing that a general purpose database can often outperform use case specific data stores.
What is most important to you about PostgreSQL?
The community.
I love the fact that PostgreSQL is one of the few truly community run projects. As a project we are free from the dictatorship of single corporates or people which are issues for other projects. I’m always inspired by the diversity within our community and it must be one of the best examples of so many people collaborating for the common good.
I also want the thank the tireless hard working members of our community whom put the effort in to organising the various PostgreSQL conferences. I really appreciate the communityness of our events.