Douglas Hunley

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Tags:   postgresql (170)   ansible (5)   crunchy (7)   security (1)  
Category:   Interviews   
Interview conducted by: Andreas Scherbaum

PostgreSQL is the World’s most advanced Open Source Relational Database. The interview series “PostgreSQL Person of the Week” presents the people who make the project what it is today. Read all interviews here.

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

My name is Douglas Hunley, and I live outside Columbus, OH (USA). I’m a former Oracle Jr DBA turned Unix Sys Admin, turned EDI Administrator, turned Linux Sys Admin, turned PostgreSQL DBA who is now focused on PostgreSQL security and Ansible automation of highly-available PostgreSQL.

Douglas Hunley

Douglas Hunley

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

I spend a lot of my free time tinkering around the home with Home Assistant trying to make the smartest smart home I can. When not breaking my smart home (heh) I’m on the PS5 or watching a movie.

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

Last book you read? Or a book you want to recommend to readers?

I definitely recommend most tech people read ‘The Phoenix Project’ (ISBN-10: 1942788290 or ISBN-13: 978-1942788294). The book is an entertaining read about a failed software project (we’ve all been there) that almost kills a company and the way they turn things around by adopting the Three Ways of DevOps. It made the whole ‘devops thing’ relatable for me in a way that other writings/talks didn’t. The last book I read that wasn’t a comic book (I’m re-reading New 52 and Rebirth currently) was ‘Ansible for DevOps’.

Any favorite movie, or show?

My favorite current TV show is probably Westworld (I can’t wait to see how season 4 plays out!) and my ‘go to’ ‘comfort’ show is probably Frasier.

My favorite movie of all time is a toss-up between Equilibrium and the original Matrix.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

A 4-day weekend, with 3 days visiting my elderly mother and the 4th day doing absolutely nothing. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does..

What’s still on your bucket list?

I want to live long enough to see household humanoid robots become a thing. Think Sonny from ‘I, Robot’ not Rosie from ‘The Jetsons’.

What is the best advice you ever got?

Stop and let yourself feel the moment.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

I started using PostgreSQL in 2003 when I was hired on at VA Software. It was the preferred backend for the commercial offering of SourceForge and it was love at first sight. I’ve used it continuously ever since in one capacity or another.

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

It was late in the 7.x series. Which is to say, it was not the PostgreSQL of today :)

I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems. My degree directly led to my first job but every job since then has been obtained by continued self-education.

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

The only other database I use at this time is the occasional SQLite. PostgreSQL is my favorite, by far.

I’m currently a maintainer on the Ansible community’s PostgreSQL collection. Very occasionally, I’ll open an issue/PR on various related tools like pgBackRest or pgenv.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

I’m not really a coder, so my contributions are more community focused. I run the Columbus, OH user group, I hang out on the community Slack answering questions, that kind of thing. Additionally, I’m the primary author of the Center for Internet Security’s PostgreSQL Security Benchmark (we put out one every year for each major release) and I authored the DoD (Department of Defense) STIG (Secure Technical Implementation Guide) for Crunchy PostgreSQL (don’t let the name fool you, it applies to community PG as well).

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

Hrm, that’s a tough one. pg_stat_statements, of course, followed by auto_explain. pg_trgm is pretty high on my list too. I’m also fond of the pgbouncer_fdw.

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

The lack of a built-in password complexity module is a pain point for secure installs. Being able to expire passwords, ensure they’re not reused, and ensure they meet the corporate complexity standards would go a very long way in a lot of shops.

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

It’s probably silly to others but the addition of SCRAM passwords was huge for my security work since md5 is both no longer allowed by DISA and was susceptible to replay attacks. We still recommend external auth since PG doesn’t do password expiry or complexity, but SCRAM is a step in the right direction.

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

As mentioned above, I’m not a coder, but I think the best skills for a user are to have a basic understanding of set theory, learn SQL, and be a good listener.

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

It’s been a while, but I’ve been to PGCon and PostgresOpen. I also worked at the PostgreSQL booth at PyCon two years in a row. No, I don’t submit talks.

Do you think PostgreSQL has a high entry barrier?

I do not, actually. PostgreSQL today is way easier than when I started with it and it gets easier all the time.

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

Absolutely. We might not recognize it when compared to the PostgreSQL of today, but it’ll be around for sure.

Would you recommend PostgreSQL for business, or for side projects?

Easily. PostgreSQL can handle traditional RDBMS, ORDBMS, NoSQL, Spatial, and just about any other workload you can throw at it. It scales well and it’s so ridiculously extensible that new functionality is being added all the time (things like sharding and timeseries). And if you get stuck, there’s a wide range of support options from the community and from PostgreSQL vendors like my employer.

Are you reading the -hackers mailinglist? Any other list?

I’m subscribed to several of the community lists but I don’t actively read them. They’re there for me to search through :)

Which other Open Source projects are you involved or interested in?

There’s a ton of projects I’m interested in and have some kind of presence in but Ansible and Home Assistant are probably the two biggest.