MongoDB aims to unify developer experience with launch of MongoDB Cloud

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez June 9, 2020
The launch of MongoDB Cloud isn’t exactly ‘new’, but it signifies intent and market direction.


As MongoDB kicks off its MongoDB Live virtual event this week, it has unveiled what it is calling the MongoDB Cloud - which is an umbrella for a series of products that aims to give developers a unified, simpler experience of working with data in the enterprise.

Much of what makes up MongoDB Cloud was already in the market (albeit some of it was in beta, now being made GA). However, that doesn't mean that the announcement isn't noteworthy, as it signals a culmination of years worth of work to position MongoDB as the modern, cloud-based data platform for developers.

We got the chance to speak with Mat Keep, product director at MongoDB, about the launch of MongoDB Cloud. The key components of the platform include:

  • The launch of MongoDB 4.4, the latest iteration of Mongo's document data model database.

  • General availability of Atlas Data Lake and Atlas Search, which were announced last year.

  • General availability of MongoDB Realm, following the acquisition of the popular open source mobile database and synchronisation platform.

Keep explained that the key to all of this is providing developers with a data platform that is consistent and fulfils a number of use cases. He said:

So when you're working with data at the edge of the network with Realm, or back in your Data Lake, or in your database, or in search, you're using a consistent data model and a consistent API. It just makes it much faster and much easier for developers to work with data.

We recognise that cloud computing has provided some huge benefits over the past 10 years in terms of unlimited scalability, access to on demand resources, very low cost of entry - but in many ways it has failed to provide a very meaningful way for developers who are working with data. You go to any of the major cloud vendors and you've got this whole multitude of different databases you can choose from, all with their own data models and their own APIs.

The idea of MongoDB Cloud, which runs on top of AWS, GCP and Azure, is to create a much more unified experience with that consistent data modelling and consistent API.

Key features

So whilst the top level picture is one that unifies MongoDB's product offering for developers, making it easier to use, there are also a number of new features worth noting within the latest iteration of the core database.

For example, MongoDB 4.4 now includes:

  • Union - which aims to provide users with richer and faster analytics, whilst reducing dependencies on fragile ETL processes and expensive data warehouses.

  • Refinable shard keys - which allows for the ability to modify the locations of data at any time as applications and business requirements evolve.

  • Hedged reads - by submitting read requests to multiple replicas and returning results to the client as soon as the quickest node responds, this aims to deliver a more consistent and predictable performance.

In addition to 4.4, Keep was keen to continue to highlight the benefits that both Atlas brings to the MongoDB line-up, including new features. He said:

Beyond the database we recognise that developers work with data in many different parts of the application stack. So they're also working with data in Search, as they look to bring Google-like search experiences to their applications.

Something else that we announced last year that we're bringing into GA is the MongoDB Atlas Data Lake. We're introducing some new functionality to that which drives a much tighter integration between the database and the Data Lake. You can essentially set a rule based on the date of your document and once it's past that date it will automatically move that data down from your database into the Data Lake for long-term storage. And then we can use something called federated query, so that we can query both that historic data in cloud storage and join it together with data that's up in your database.

You can start to very cost effectively tier and age out older data. But it's still fully accessible to your applications through federated query.

Finally, MongoDB's acquisition of appears to be coming to fruition and Keep pointed to the productivity benefits that MongoDB Realm can bring to developers. He said:

And as we move to the edge of the network, last year we acquired Realm. That's something that can be installed directly on a mobile device. So we are bringing that forward along with Realm Sync, which is used to keep data synchronised between that front end device and your back end network. And with other devices as well. And it's all fully managed.

Even conservatively, when developers are working with data at the edge of the network and working on sync solutions, which are terribly complex to build, having this all fully managed as a service takes conservatively about 20% of the time off development cycles.

Changing business priorities

It's hard not to view any vendor's product announcements within the context of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it's having on business. At diginomica we have been tracking the response from end users and vendors alike as it relates to the ‘future of work', with the aim of understanding what long-term impact the pandemic and continued lockdowns will have.

Keep argues that the rapid changes in the market will drive even more uptake of cloud and digital tools, as companies focus on resiliency, availability and better use of data. Which, unsurprisingly, works very well for MongoDB. Keep said:

We're moving to a model, even as we start to come out of lockdown, where more and more of our interactions are digital and online. It's forcing more businesses to accelerate their path to digital transformation. And certainly to accelerate their path towards cloud computing. Being physically unable to get people into data centres to rack and stack technology to support these new applications, it's driven companies even in highly regulated industries to look at creative ways of how they can move to the public cloud.

And having on demand, fully managed services, which really help developers focus on the application, rather than the back end operations, is a significant shift that was already underway prior to lockdown and the pandemic. But it has really been accelerated.

Companies are looking at how they can embrace cloud, how they can modify working practices to take advantage of managed services so that they can focus on building apps faster.

My take

MongoDB has been telling us for years that it's the ‘modern data platform for the enterprise'. The announcement of MongoDB Cloud should be viewed within that context, where the vendor is aiming to unify the experience for the developer - Cloud being the one stop shop for MongoDB developers, from the database in the cloud right through to the edge of the network.

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