In July this year, New York based database solutions provider MongoDB announced the general availability of its latest iteration, the MongoDB 5.0. The focus of the latest version, the company said, was on supporting broader workloads, future-proofing applications and enhancing privacy.
The MongoDB 5.0 launch comes after three iterations of the version 4, with the first 4.0 being launched three years ago, version 4.2 in 2019 and version 4.4 in 2020. The current iteration, 5.0 could be seen as the platform’s attempt at moving aggressively towards the cloud and as-a-service path as the pandemic pushes businesses to accelerate their digital journeys. A recent update to MongoDB Atlas, its fully managed cloud service offering, is also helping the company improve its offering
To understand how MongoDB 5.0 and the money-spinner MongoDB Atlas fit into the company’s growth plans -- the company reported revenues at $590.4 million for the year ended January 2021 -- let’s zoom out a bit to understand why database management systems are important, especially in the post-Covid era.
Controlling the lifecycle of business data is one of the most crucial components of applications of enterprises. To tackle this, organisations deploy database management systems (DBMS) to deal with the exponential growth of data as well as to derive business insights.
Some of the well-known DBMS players such as Microsoft SQL Server, Improvado, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB are used by developers who build applications that need to be developed quickly, with the ability to scale fast. If the application in question deals with a large volumes of data, there are two options to choose from, RDBMS or relational databases such as Oracle, SQL Server, or NoSQL databases such as MongoDB.
NoSQL databases have become popular in recent times due to their simple designs, ability to scale up horizontally and vertically and easier control over data as compared to RDBMS solutions.
The market addressed by these players is pegged at $73 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow to $119 billion in 2025, according to a May 2021 semiannual report by market research firm IDC.
In the current context of building software applications, the days of buying a competitive advantage off the shelf are long gone. Companies are investing and building core competitive strength, which means success hinges on the productivity of developers and the strength of the data platform.
“The speed at which you can build new applications, take it out to market, get your customers engaged is governed by how well the underlying data platform supports and enables innovation,” Suvig Sharma, senior director, Asia Pacific, MongoDB, told TechCircle.
One of the biggest pain points for most organizations is dealing with legacy data systems, and this is where companies such as MongoDB come into the picture.
Sharma used a case study to elaborate MongoDB’s role in software development. One of its customers, a travelers’ insurance firm in the US, had all the modern technology in place, an agile development framework, a microservices based architecture, and also implemented continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) for faster automation.
“But eventually they realized it was the legacy data platform that was holding their innovation back,” Sharma said.
“If you have an eight-week sprint cycle (for product development), and you spend three or four days just on the database change, that can have a significant impact on your ability to innovate and build faster,” said Sharma to explain how legacy systems were a dampener to fast innovation that is the need of the hour today.
“For years organisations have been leveraging our platform for IoT time series data. We are now making it even more frictionless and efficient to develop by introducing a native time series collection,” Sharma said about the new native series support feature in version 5.0.
Additionally, in order to future proof investments in application development MongoDB has launched Versioned APIs. This will allow users to not stress over application breaking, even as the underlying database is enhanced with new version releases and new features.
A normal upgrade to a new version of a database consists of a number of steps from platform certification to testing of applications, which could take anywhere from four to six months. “Now all of that goes away, you can continuously build your applications, you're not worried that anything of that breaks. I’m not aware of any other database platform that does that,” Sharma said.
A July 2019 study by Gartner pegged that by 2022, 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated onto a cloud platform, with only 5% to be considered to repatriate on-premise.
MongoDB Atlas, launched in June 2016, handles deployment and management of data on any cloud provider -- such as AWS, Azure or Google Cloud platform. It currently contributes about 51% of the company’s revenues at an annual recurring revenue of $400 million, according to Sharma.
The latest update to MongoDB Atlas will allow third-party providers to allocate compute resources to execute a function in a serverless cloud, which takes some workload off developers, who now don’t have to manage their own servers.
“Our customers wanted the DBMS in an as-a-service model, because they didn't want to be bothered with the underlying management of the database, so we launched MongoDB Atlas,” says Sharma.
The MongoDB Atlas platform has evolved to keep up with the changing market needs. It first started with the addition of a full text search, and then came the data clearing, online archiving, and a data lakes feature. The next addition was a launch as a multi-cloud compatible platform that will avoid vendor-lock-ins and also enabled workload distribution of a single cluster across three major cloud providers (GCP, Azure and AWS).
Later, a visualization engine was added, and with the acquisition of open-source platform Realm in April 2019, the company added the ability to be able service workloads from edge devices to the backend servers.
“With all of this we made sure that we were adhering to stringent security guidelines and frameworks and continuously innovated on that aspect,” Sharma said.
Today, MongoDB offers developers the ability to work on transactional, search or mobile workloads on a single platform, and also access the same through a single API which provides that much needed impetus to developers.
Moving forward, with the rapid growth of Atlas, whose revenues were up by 73% last year, it will be interesting to note how MongoDB will tackle delivering vendor-managed DBaaS experience on-premise. The company will also keenly look towards providing more AI/ML (artificial intelligence and machine learning) based solutions to its customers in the future.
“Each of the updates is making it easier for developers to focus on applications, build applications faster, and innovate and not to worry about the underlying database or data technologies, and I think that to us is the most exciting part of it all,” Sharma said.
The India story
From a developer standpoint, MongoDB currently houses about 1.5 million registrants on the MongoDB University -- the platform that offers MongoDB Courses -- out of which 360,000 are in India alone. That puts the percentage of MongoDB developers in India at approximately 24%. In the last year, the company realized 70 million downloads of the software, with India being one of the leading regions for the increase in downloads.
MongoDB’s India headcount is currently at 330 employees. “Compared to last year, we've almost doubled employee headcount, and that trajectory is continuing to grow,” Sharma said.
In terms of traction in customers, 2020 saw MongoDB increase its customer count by 88%, and now currently has close to 1300 customers in the country, spanning across industries and different sizes.
Some of the company’s customers here include Ludo King, Zomato, and Vedantu among others. The prominent sectors it caters to are gaming, education-tech, financial technology-commerce and logistics and healthcare. Sharma told TechCircle that most of these organisations use MongoDB for AI/ML based case studies and solutions.