OSCON 2007 was a huge success for the PostgreSQL community. Of course, OSCON is usually a good conference for PostgreSQL but this year was different. So what was different about this year than other years? How did we stand out from other community booths? What about MySQL?
Professional presence. The community moved to a professional presence of advocating only PostgreSQL at the community booths. Flexing our community muscle to provide a unified display to all attendees paid off and we received many comments to the pleasant surprise the presentation provided.
An army of technical guys! Even MySQL folks noted our presence at OSCON both while during the conference, on blogs at even at the bar after. The fact is, the other Open Source databases (and closed source forks) don't get it. Conferences are about people. They are not about your marketing material.
PostgreSQL had a number of very well known contributors present at our booth at any given time including, Josh Berkus, myself, Robert Treat, David Fetter and Alvaro Herrera. We also had local users from PDXPUG such as Selena Deckelmann and Gabrielle.
At one point we had a gentlemen come up and thank us for a great product but complain that he was a newbie and hadn't figured out how to get PostgreSQL running on Ubuntu (he had been trying to compile from source). So we walked him through getting the software up on his laptop with Synaptic. He then graciously thanked us and was honestly surprised at how helpful we were. I noted that he was also at our BOF a day later. We have a new community member!
How does all of this compare to MySQL? MySQL I am sorry to say was pathetic. They had benchmarks from 2001 one the wall, a small sign begging that they were hiring, and a very pleasant (honestly) marketing gal at the booth. What they didn't have, was booth attendees from the conference.
I would note that we also received very few of my favorite question, "How is MySQL different than PostgreSQL?". Those of you who have performed booth duty with me know that I have a threshold for that question, and at about 26... I started imploding. I don't think we even reached 12 this time. Instead we were consistently asked about, "How can I move from Oracle?" or "I need to migrate from MSSQL". This is great as it shows that the public is starting to recognize where our true place lies in the market.
What about other community booths? Well one of our (PostgreSQL.Org) SPI fellows, Debian was there but unfortunately it was less than lackluster. This one actually surprised me because OSCON would be a show where Debian could shine. Instead there were two guys on bean bags under a dark tent, and zero material on what Debian is, why you would use it, or even some live CDs.
FreeBSD had a solid presence with a nice display (32 inch I believe) to display their wares. I even had the opportunity to talk with someone who was directly involved with the upcoming FreeBSD 7. It looks like FreeBSD 7 will finally catch up or even beat Linux in the scaling and SMP arena. I was taken aback as I regularly do not suggest FreeBSD for PostgreSQL because after 4 CPUs it just isn't worth the effort. Watch version 7, it looks hot. (I would note that when I said to the their booth, "It is about darn time", they smiled and said, "Yes")
I would like to put a special shout out to Sun. They appear to actually be thinking about their direction now and not only thinking but actually moving forward. I know.... "Woah Joshua, what are you saying?". I am saying that Sun, not only had a constant presence in the PostgreSQL booth (with Perna not Josh Berkus) but they also accepted our booth rules, willingly. E.g, They wore the PostgreSQL shirt, not a Sun one. They willingly put their marketing material in the folder in its proper place (the last page because it is alphabetical). Their whole attitude was so completely different from just 12 months ago, that I actually bothered to take a Open Solaris development kit to check it out. I wouldn't even have bothered to cover my mouth when I sneezed at it 12 months ago.
In all, OSCON 2007 was a huge success and I expect LinuxWorld 2007 to be even better. PostgreSQL.Org, not Command Prompt, not EnterpriseDB, not Greenplum, and not Sun is where it is at and the Open Source community and consumer are starting to recognize this. This is a call out to all commercial supporters of PostgreSQL, you better recognize or you are going to be left in the dust by the people that understand this.
Pictures are coming, really!