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Speaker photo for Grant McAlister

Interview with Grant McAlister


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Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I’ve been working with databases for over 30 years, the last 23 years at Amazon, first supporting the overall company and then 15 years ago helping to found RDS and later Aurora as part of AWS. I’ve been working with PostgreSQL since 2012 and it’s now my favorite database. When I’m not having fun with databases you can usually find me riding my bicycle somewhere amazing.

How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?

Mainly directly with community members either at conferences or in our organization.

Have you enjoyed previous PostgreSQL Europe conferences, either as an attendee or as a speaker? (PGConf.EU, FOSDEM PGDay, Nordic PGDay, pgDay Paris, PGConf.DE)

Yes, attended PGConf.EU 2014, 2015 & 2018 and was a speaker at PGConf.EU 2015

What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

The talk will cover why PostgreSQL does full page writes (FPW), how to monitor it and how it can affect your databases scaling. Of course once you know it’s a problem you want to know what steps you can take to fix it and that is what the remainder of the talk will be about.

The reason for this topic, full page writes (FPW) is that it’s not something you directly control which makes it a bit complicated to reason about and it can really cause a lot of issues as your working set size grows.

What is the audience for your talk?

It is applicable for both developers and administrators. For developers it can help them understand how their application design can affect scalability and for administrators how to monitor and make changes to mitigate the effects of full page writes.

What existing knowledge should the attendee have?

Some general PostgreSQL/database knowledge.

What is the one feature in PostgreSQL 15 which you like most?

New compression methods including wal_compression (zstd, lz4) which is referenced in my talk.

Which other talk at this year’s conference would you like to see?
Which measure, action, feature or activity would—in your eyes—help to accelerate the adoption of PostgreSQL?

A more complete logical replication solution so that it can be more easily used for tasks like major version upgrade, full database replication and blue/green deployments.