Divya Sharma



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Category:   interviews   
Written by: Andreas Scherbaum

Please tell us about yourself, and where you are from.

I am originally from India, but based in Dublin,Ireland for the past 8 years. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from TU, Dublin. I moved to Dublin after getting a scholarship to finish my final year of engineering in Ireland. After finishing the course, I got a job offer from AWS as a support engineer (in 2017). I have been working with PostgreSQL since then, and now I am working as a Sr. RDS PostgreSQL SA at AWS.

Divya Sharma

Divya Sharma

How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies?

I spend my free time talking to my parents back home in India. Playing with my dog, Zoe (3 years old labrador!). Going to the gym and unwinding at the end of the day is something I do 4-5 times a week. Also, I absolutely love cooking; I find it therapeutic. If I have time after these activities, I would sleep some extra hours! 😂

Any Social Media channels of yours we should be aware of?

I am most active on LinkedIn.

Any favorite movie, or show?

I recently watched “You are what you eat: A twin experiment” on netflix, and I found it super informative. You can either watch the show or read more about the study here.

What’s still on your bucket list?

Skydiving! I want to experience this atleast once in my life time. Currently searching for where to do it, and when; where is it most beautiful!

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

When I joined AWS in 2017 (straight out of college), I had to pick a database engine to continue. Coming from a CS engineering background, I had learnt the basics of RDBMS in college, but never really got into specifics of any database engine. It was a tough choice to make, however, few of my colleagues who were working on PostgreSQL helped me understand how it might be very valuable to learn that engine (being open source and feature wise comparable to other available but proprietary database engines). I was lucky to be guided well in 2017, and here we are today. :)

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

9.6

Did your study at a university help you with your current job?

Yes, I studied modules on: RDBMS, Networking fundamentals, Operating Systems (focused on linux systems). I was able to apply this knowledge to better understand the AWS services I was learning at that time. So it was indeed very helpful.

What other databases are you using? Which one is your favorite?

I only use PostgreSQL 😀

My current job role involves helping customers migrate to PostgreSQL, and help them optimize their workloads on the same. I am working on a few projects to devise trainings, and help more customers run their production workload on PostgreSQL. I feel it is easier for the customers to pick a cloud provider and migrate to PostgreSQL from another proprietary database engine. However, the journey after the migration is much more difficult when they realise that their teams need to develop the skillset to work with PostgreSQL efficiently. This is where I am currently working with my team to help enable more customers optimize their use of PostgreSQL for their production workloads.

What is your favorite system view or PostgreSQL extension?

My favourite system view has to be pg_stat_user_tables, as it gives a lot of different types of information which can be particularly useful for - tuning vacuum (based on no. of updates/deletes on the table and no. of vacuums/autovacuums), understanding how many times there has been a seq scan on the table (if you need an index?) etc.

My favourite PostgreSQL extension has to be pglogical - because of the no. of times I had suggested customers to use it in place of the native logical replication 🙂 (main reasons - pglogical’s ability to replicate DDL and sequences). The second favourite would be pg_repack (more for indexes than tables).

What is the most annoying PostgreSQL thing you can think of? And any chance to fix it?

Whenever log_statement is set to all (which I understand should be done for a short period of time for troubleshooting purposes only), if we change the password for a user, or create a new user, the passwords would be logged in plain text. From a security point of view, this should not be allowed. Ideally, It should error out (or atleast throw a warning) saying “while log_statement is set to ‘all’, you shouldn’t change passwords/create new user with passwords”. Not sure how this can be fixed, but can brainstorm and think of ideas if anybody (reading this interview) is interested to collaborate.

What is the feature you like most in the latest PostgreSQL version?

In version 16, the features I like the most:

  1. Allow logical replication from standby servers - As it can help PG users scale better with more flexibility in replication architectures.
  2. Allow monitoring of I/O statistics using the new pg_stat_io view - can be useful to understand the IO by different PG processes, tuning shared_buffers and checkpointer.
  3. Removal of vacuum_defer_cleanup_age - As said in the docs as well - This has been unnecessary since hot_standby_feedback and replication slots were added.

Adding to that, what feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL?

The ability for native logical replication to be able to support DDL and sequences would be a big win, as it is a feature needed by most people using logical replication anyway.

Which skills are a must have for a PostgreSQL developer/user?

  1. Fundamental understanding of the PostgreSQL internals - WAls, replication, Vacuum, backup, upgrade etc.
  2. Simple query processing knowledge and usage - shorthands for psql can be very handy.

Which PostgreSQL conferences do you visit? Do you submit talks?

Yes, I have been a very active participant in PostgreSQL conferences since 2022. I have till now spoken at 5 PostgreSQL conferences, the first one being PGConf.EU in October 2022. 3 more will be added to the list by end of April, as I am selected speaker at Nordic PGDay, PGConf.DE and PGDay Chicago in 2024 till now.

Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

It depends! I believe I was lucky enough to get the right guidance and support from the people - inside and outside of AWS to be able to grow as a professional. Of course, it does require effort to learn anything new, but it will always sound difficult before you “start”. The PostgreSQL community is very helpful in helping people learn more and develop the skills needed.

Do you think PostgreSQL will be here for many years in the future?

The rate at which the popularity of PostgreSQL has grown since 2017 (when I started using it), it definitely will be here for many more years, with better, more advanced features!

Anything else you like to add?

If anybody reading this article is looking for mentorship for speaking at PostgreSQL conferences (especially women), please reach out to me via LinkedIn message. I would be more than happy to help you submit your topics, and coach you to successfully present, once selected. I want to see more new faces joining and presenting on good technical topics of interest at the PostgreSQL conferences. Happy learning! 🐘🤓