For once, I was at a conference without being a speaker, but co-organizer. The idea came only 3 months ago at the Swiss PostgreSQL Users Group dinner organized by dbi services in Milan before the PostgreSQL Conference when Laetitia Avrot asked me if it would be possible to organize a meetup at CERN.

My answer was “yes” of course, but I had just resigned from CERN so it had to happen before February where I come back the consulting life at dbi-services. Laetitia organized everything in a short time: find the sponsors, the speakers, organized the drinks and food, advertise for it,…

Huge thanks to Laetitia for that work in a short time! I was involved in smaller things like: finding the venue at CERN and manage the registrations, a visit to the LHC for the speakers, and some little details to get people there (and out without being lost in the 1960’s buildings…)

And it was a huge success! When opening the registrations in December, the 100 seats of the IT Amphitheater were taken in 3 days. Fortunately, I was able to get a larger room: the Council Chamber with 160 seats. The feedback I got was really good for CERN employees as well people coming from near or far. It was also recorded (see links below) and webcasted, which is still possible to watch if you have a good internet bandwidth:

Here are the talks and link to recording + slides:

  • Intro (Laetitia Avrot)


  • 00:34:20 Gülçin Yıldırım — Evolution of Fault Tolerance in PostgreSQL
    explaining all the evolutions of transaction protection and replication though WAL, physical standby, streaming, failover and switchover.


  • 01:28:00 Pavlo Golub — Professional PostgreSQL scheduling made easy on advanced job scheduling with pg_timetable


  • 02:43:30 Anastasia Lubennikova — Advanced PostgreSQL Backup and Recovery methods for a comparison of backup/recovery solutions


  • 03:29:50 Vik Fearing — Advent of Code Using PostgreSQL showing the power of SQL as a programing language


  • 03:50:10 Romuald Thion — PostgreSQL at the university: some lessons learned using PostgreSQL from a teacher/student point of view


  • 04:14:30 Oleg Bartunov — All You Need Is Postgres! an awesome talk on the past and the future of the fastest-growing open-source database, and how this future fits with enterprise-level usage.


There’s a 1'30 audio blackout in Oleg talk, unfortunately. The mike went off and thanks to his loud voice he was clearly audible in the room and I didn’t realize immediately the problem. Sorry for this.

While talking about the little issues, there was some confusion at CERN reception. The registered participants got an access card by e-mail which is supposed to be printed and wear visible on the CERN campus. But today, we are used to keeping those things on our phones. And then many had to print it at the reception. I should have pre-print all of them and noticed the reception guard. Sorry for the confusion, and thanks to my colleagues who went to get people and guide them to the venue.

You may have had some problems to connect to the CERN Public Wifi. Yes, that may sound weird as we were 50 meters from the office where the World Wide Web was invented. I don’t know how it was related but there was a big Swisscom outage with some consequences at CERN and elsewhere. The speakers had no problems, as I shared the network from my laptop ;)

Besides those little things, everything was perfect. It was the first time for me in an event organization of this size (more than 100 people on site and up to 90 online). My tip from this experience: try to think to every little detail in the months/week/days in advance and then, the day of the event, just try to do the best with the little unexpected things. And big thanks to the colleagues who helped me, and to the CERN teams managing the rooms, the webcasts, the recordings, the Indico software…

All participants got access to CERN premises for the whole day. They had access to the permanent exhibitions and to the restaurant. It would have been awesome to offer a special visit for all but… that’s impossible for 100 people.

For the speakers, I’ve organized a special visit to ATLAS Detector, one of the 4 experiments on the LHC, 100 meters underground. Here is a map of the CERN accelerator complex: Currently, all is stopped for the long shutdown maintenance and this is why it can be visited. But to small groups only (max. 6 people which was perfect for our speakers) because there’s a lot of work in progress. But you can also do a virtual visit with “pegman” on Google Maps:!data=!1m8!1m3!1d3!2d6.055071!3d46.235832!2m2!1f192.55!2f98!4f75!2m4!1e1!2m2!1skWZ2TA53b9AAAAQJODkDDg!2e0&fid=5

I also guided a visit though the CERN campus to the Antiproton Decelerator — again limited to 12 people so I had to pick-up some people in pseudo-random order among the first registered. I’m sorry for all the people who would have enjoyed to join but given the current maintenance on those experiments, this was the maximum possible.

Being a guide is one of the thing I enjoyed during my year at CERN. I like to share the little I’ve learned about the research that are done there. I like to meet people coming from all countries.

If you come back around Geneva, there’s a regular PostgreSQL meetup:

(all photos stolen on twitter here… Thanks to @westermanndanie, @Pybrehier, @MendiSaid, @obartunov, @Karenhjex, @apatheticmagpie for sharing them)

Developer Advocate at Yugabyte, Open Source distributed SQL database. Incidentally Oracle ACE Director, Oracle Certified Master, AWS Data Hero, OakTable member