Jan Karremans

Tags:   postgresql    enterprise    oracle    migration    conference    edb   
Category:   Interviews   
Interviewed 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.

I was born in a very small village in the south of the Netherlands. From there I ended up, through a short time of living in Germany, at the German Border in the Middle East of The Netherlands.

I have spent my entire career around (relational) databases. Started sometime in 1993/1994 with Oracle and moved to PostgreSQL at the start of 2017. That also ended my “active career” as an Oracle ACE very quickly, which caused a bit of commotion.

Apart from that, I have a very broad background, from engineering through leadership to commerce - and back.

Jan Karremans

Jan Karremans

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

One of my bigger hobbies is, actually, databases. Trying to be an active member of both the PostgreSQL as well as the Oracle community and trying to convince techies to join up and share experiences. Speaking for techies is challenging, but it is always super rewarding!

Apart from databases, I do a lot of DIY projects as well as riding my motorcycle on beautiful days!

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

Just the Twitter one ;-)

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

I you have the stomach, I would always recommend “Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals” by Lex de Haan and my friend Toon Koppelaars.

Any favorite movie, or show?

Wow, there is a bunch of that, actually.
These days I do not have very much opportunity to watch anything much, so it is usually some Netflix series episodes, such as 24, Outlander or The Witcher.

How would your ideal weekend look like?

Doing a bit of travel, either by bike or by car. Preferably together with my wife, to do some shopping, obviously combined with a good lunch and smart coffee!

What’s still on your bucket list?

Travel to New Zealand and the Maldives.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

I was on “my journey” and concluded I could easily retire with Oracle tech. I also knew that this would be an incredibly boring and painful experience.
I also had the opportunity to take the other path on the Y-junction and go with this thing “they called” Postgres. And so I did…
Never… regretted… it… a single second!

Do you remember which version of PostgreSQL you started with?

I clearly remember, 9.6.

I am one of the first people in The Netherlands that actually did an IT training in college. So basically I have just been doing what I was trained for from the start ;-)

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

I have been born and bred on Oracle… PostgreSQL is my favorite one, by considerable distance.

Really a bunch of projects, but they are all related to how to use and deploy Postgres for really big Enterprise workloads.
A very interesting project, for example, is working with a European leading utilities company, helping them move from Oracle on premises to Postgres on AWS EC2. Another cool project might be the way Postgres supports most of the global credit card companies or stock exchanges, running their core financial systems.

How do you contribute to PostgreSQL?

My contributions, compared to many others, are quite small. I predominantly evangelise Postgres to non-Postgres folks with a good focus on my peers in the Oracle scene.

You seem like the odd-one out in the community, can you tell a bit more about yourself?

In the Postgres world, I am indeed not your regular contributor. I work for EnterpriseDB, now also happily working together with our extended family of 2ndQuadrant.
Within EDB I lead the pre-sales consultant group, which, speaking of Postgres, is perhaps a bit strange. To me, it makes perfect sense, and I would love to try to explain why (and even why this is great for Postgres!) Simon Riggs would characterize myself as a PostgreSQL careerist.

EDB continues to focus on spreading the usage of Postgres, where we have the drive to bring Postgres to projects where it is not normally considered. This means that we help our customers to adopt Postgres for high-end, mission critical workloads

What is your favorite PostgreSQL extension?

That has to be PostGIS . If you look at the power of the extension and the breadth of functionality, especially compared to proprietary solutions… It is simply amazing.

What feature/mechanism would you like to see in PostgreSQL? And why?

I would really like to see PostgreSQL sharding to be picked up again!

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

I am an active database community member. This means though, I do actually visit a lot of other conferences too. Primarily to spread the word on Postgres. Yes, for that I do submit quite a few talks…

Do you think Postgres has a high entry barrier?

No. If you want to get started with Postgres, especially compared to some of the other database technologies, it is so super easy!!

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

As Bruce already discussed in “Will Postgres live forever?” I would bet, Postgres will be around for many more years to come and it will still increase so much in significance…

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

I would recommend Postgres for nearly all business cases. You will have heard of the expression: “When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail”, meaning that, if you are into Postgres, obviously every use case is a Postgres use case.
But, apart from that, if you look at some of the fundamentals, created by Date & Codd, implemented by Mike Stonebraker, adopted by Bruce in the early days… Postgres in that sense is a true swiss army knife, with it’s multi lingual support, it’s extensibility, it’s modularity. Postgres fits very tiny projects (a routing-table on a network device) to very huge projects like core central management systems for global credit card companies.