Taras Kloba

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Tags:   postgresql (170)   community (25)   ukraine (5)  
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.

Note: This interview was conducted on February 12th, 2022.

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

Greetings! My name is Taras Kloba, I was born in Drohobych. It is a small town in Western Ukraine with a population of about 75 thousand people. Currently, I live in Lviv with my wife and our three daughters — our oldest daughter is seven years old, and the twins are two years old.

I have been interested in computer technologies since I was five. As a school boy, I started to collect data :) At first, it was databases for the home library. Later, I collected information about computer games my fellows and I had. When someone wanted to get another game, they could reach me and figure out who had the desired game and whether it could be borrowed or exchanged for another one.

After high school, I entered a university, where database theory became one of my favorite subjects. It was the era of the student portal. At that time, I developed a file-sharing service that allowed students to share useful materials. More and more people recognized my skills and knowledge. So, I started getting my first corporate orders and therefore gained a new experience. Afterwards, I set up a business with my friends — an online computer equipment store.

When the sense of adventure had gone, I went to work in the banking sector and worked my way up from a developer to the Head of Development Department of a bank. Afterwards, I spent several years working abroad and was engaged in big migration projects. After returning to Ukraine, I led the Data Management direction in the biggest Ukrainian IT service-providing companies. In addition, I was a CTO at one of the world’s biggest gambling platforms. Currently, I work on the development of the Big Data competence at SoftServe, where about 14,000 people are employed to date.

At the same time, I take part in the development of local communities dedicated to working with data. Moreover, I am the leader and co-founder of the PostgreSQL Ukraine community.

Taras Kloba

Taras Kloba

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

As for me, the most efficient way to bring up children is leading by example. That is why I take up such hobbies that allow me to set a good example for my children.

Chess can serve as a good example. This year began with a chess tournament my oldest daughter took part in. Almost every evening we train and play chess. As for my younger daughters, they have also started to recognize chess pieces and the way chess pieces move. The same is with swimming. I often go to the swimming pool, and my oldest daughter picked up that hobby as well, and now she attends swimming club at least once a week. In addition, I’m planning to read even more books (but not only listen to audiobooks) to interest them in reading.

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

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

Currently, I’m finishing the book “How Life Imitates Chess”. Insights into Life as a Game of Strategy by Garry Kasparov. I started reading this book after I had finished the online chess course by Garry Kasparov on the MasterClass platform and became interested in the author’s personality. I took this course to help my daughter better prepare for the chess tournament. Furthermore, I enjoyed this book as it helped me to understand my manner of play (sharp). Actually, it is quite crucial since an understanding of your play manner helps you to focus on certain points in the game and fully enjoy this game of kings. Above all, you learn how to bring similar approaches, patterns, and strategies to real life and situations when you need to make an important decision.

Any favorite movie, or show?

I’d rather say it is “The Godfather”. I remember watching this movie on TV for the first time. Despite its length, I watched it from the beginning to the end in one go. The movie taught me that even antiheroes have the opposite sight, and their experience is nourishing. Since childhood, scenes from this movie have etched in my mind and influenced a lot of my decisions.

What is the best advice you ever got?

Don’t ever stop learning and growing as a person. I find it vital in the modern world, when occupations and technologies are changing every year, to maintain our competency and stay open to new opportunities.

When did you start using PostgreSQL, and why?

It was 10 years ago. One of my clients asked to develop a scraper that can analyze domain name expiration dates and collect several basic popularity metrics of domain names. I faced certain difficulties connecting to MS SQL Server Express while everything worked without hassle with PostgreSQL.

Since then, PostgreSQL has become my primary DBMS for all pet projects.

And, eventually, I used PostgreSQL while working on commercial projects for big enterprise companies.

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

For transactional workloads, PostgreSQL fully satisfies me, and as I mentioned above for my pet projects PostgreSQL is option #1 (in comparison with other RDBMS). I spent a lot of time learning and working with PostgreSQL, and I know enough workarounds to achieve expected results.

Also, I have participated in projects where the size of data storage is more than dozens of terabytes. In most cases, data warehouses that I design are intended for analytics workloads and help to receive data-driven insights for business. For such kinds of tasks for me, really helpful is to use cloud computing power and use specific databases (columnar/RDD/CloudDHW). My favorite service for analytical workloads is Google Big Query, but also, I have experience with Azure Synapse and Amazon Redshift. In some cases, these cloud services are better than “pure” PostgreSQL, but I hope that soon we will see new features in PostgreSQL related to external storage and the possibility to create in-memory and columnar tables that will help to use PostgreSQL as a universal solution and cover variety of needs.

Any contributions to PostgreSQL which do not involve writing code?

One additional activity I am proud of that is not related to code writing and data warehouse creation on PostgreSQL is the formation and development of the PostgreSQL Ukraine community.

We managed to form a strong community of PostgreSQL experts in Ukraine. We communicate the latest news via chats and posts on social media. In the pre-pandemic period, we held one of the best offline events in the country. But the most valuable thing is the experts of the community who are always ready to lend a hand.

Could you describe your PostgreSQL development toolbox?

I often work with psql when it comes to administrative tasks, but when I need to write complex SQL queries or certain logic on the database side using plPG/SQL, I’d rather prefer to use DataGrip. I have lots of ready-made snippets and automations which work with this IDE.

Do you use any git best practices, which makes working with PostgreSQL easier?

It seems to me that it is especially important to build a great culture of writing high-quality code with the introduction of CI/CD practices, including database code. Here is the link to one of my favorite speeches on this topic that I gave at many conferences. I encourage you to watch it and share your opinion in the comments. I describe how my team and I manage to organize the working process using Gitlab and FlyWay.

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

I do my best not to miss any PGConf.EU events, since it is a great conference that allows to meet the major PostgreSQL contributors and dive deeper into the PostgreSQL world. Our Ukrainian community is working on arranging the Ukrainian Day in a city where the conference takes place — we want to rent apartments, gather experts from Ukraine, come together abroad, and celebrate.

I hope that one day we will invite members of the community to Lviv or Kyiv and hold the PostgreSQL conference there. Members of the community from other countries will have an opportunity to get acquainted with Ukraine.

What is your advice for people who want to start PostgreSQL developing - as in, contributing to the project? Where and how should they start?

There are three books that helped me personally to know more about PostgreSQL. I usually recommend these books to everyone who asks me about materials for beginners. Here is the list:

  • Schönig Hans-Jürgen. Mastering PostgreSQL
  • Alexey Vasiliev. Work with PostgreSQL: tuning and scaling
  • Dimitri Fontaine. The Art of PostgreSQL

Furthermore, I go into teaching and have created two courses for academy.sql.ua. The courses are designed for beginners and developers that want to know more about PostgreSQL.

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

Yes. Without a shadow of a doubt. I recommend PostgreSQL both for business and pet projects. Nowadays, there are a great number of highly tailored solutions that in certain cases can be more suitable than PostgreSQL. However, if you just started a project, and you need a Swiss Army knife that will deal with the vast majority of tasks — PostgreSQL is a good choice.