Where Is MongoDB Taking Its Giant Ideas?

Q&A: At its annual conference, MongoDB delivered a new Database as a Service offering and a new Apache Spark Connector, but the company is far from done.

big data

With a theme of "Giant Ideas," MongoDB is breaking new ground as a hot NoSQL database. This week at its MongoDB World conference, the company declared that its database enables developers to launch their giant ideas and create big things. As part of that, Mongo DB announced Atlas, its new database-as-a-service offering, as well as a new MongoDB Connector for Apache Spark. That connector enables developers and data scientists to gain insights from live, operational and streaming data. However, the company continues to gain momentum in the database world and is growing and picking up new customers—many of which have come from traditional SQL databases like Oracle and Microsoft's SQL Server. Many of its user organizations are .NET shops. "The whole raison d'etre of MongoDB is to unleash developer productivity," Dev Ittycheria, MongoDB's president and CEO, said during his keynote at the show.

In an interview from MongoDB World, Kelly Stirman, vice president of strategy at MongoDB, talks to eWEEK about what "giant ideas" got the company to this point and where it's going from here.

What's the hot new thing coming from MongoDB for this event?

We announced a bunch of things, but I think the thing that's most interesting is Atlas, this new database as a service. An analogy I've been using is when you think about transportation, you can own your car and you have to deal with insurance and keeping fuel in the car and a whole lot of other issues. But you could also have something like Uber where you don't need to own a car and you can just click a button and a car shows up and they drive you where you need to go. You don't have to worry about navigating or anything; you just sit back and focus on what matters to you.

So we've had products that matter to people that have owned their own car for years now—that make it easier and safer and all that good stuff. But this is a new product that is more like Uber where you just let us take care of things for you and you just pay by the hour for exactly how much you use. Some people prefer this–think of developers trying to get their idea off the ground and they just want somebody to take care of the infrastructure for them. That's this service.

Think of a really big company that is all about owning their own cars, but they might decide that this is good for the next application or maybe for their development and test environments. And they're going to use both. They're going to own their own car and they're going to use Uber for some things as well. That's kind of how I think about it. We're really excited about it. It's the first time we're launching a service like this. It starts on AWS, but we'll have it available on Azure and Google within the next year or so.

Are there plans to support any other cloud providers?

Not right now. Those are the three that really seem to matter to the people we talk to.

Why did it take you so long to get into the DBaaS arena? There have been other companies that have made a good showing off of the MongoDB-as-a -service space.

I have two answers. One is this is the culmination of something we started five years ago, where we started with a monitoring service that got to about 60,000 users. Then we added a fully managed backup service where you pay by the gigabyte for backups. Then we created an automation service to do installations, upgrades and config changes that don't take your database offline. So what this is—is taking all of that work that we've been developing for the past four or five years and then taking all the experience we have helping people manage their infrastructure through our support, and basically building software that manages not just MongoDB but the underlying infrastructure as well using what we think are the best configurations and security for MongoDB and bundling that into this nice service. So it's something we've been working on for a long time.