Atlas was launched as a database-as-a-service offering in June of 2016, with the aim at the time to woo customers away from buying MongoDB from third party cloud providers (but still being hosted on AWS, Google and Azure).
I got the chance to speak to MongoDB CTO and co-founder Eliot Horowitz, who took the time to fill diginomica in on the news from the AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas this week. The sell at the time was that MongoDB Atlas is “operated by the experts who design and engineer the database” meaning that “developers no longer need to worry about operational tasks such as hardware provisioning, failure recovery, software patching, upgrades, configuration or backups”.
However, before touching on the Atlas/AWS Marketplace tie-up, I was keen to find out how MongoDB was fairing after its successful IPO last month in New York - where the company ended up 34% above its IPO price of $24 on the first day of trading to $32 (it has since dropped to around $28).
Horowitz was enthused by the results of the IPO and said that it provides certainty for customers that MongoDB is here for the long-term. He said:
The IPO went really well. We were happy that the market reception was very good. In terms of why, I think it’s a number of reasons. One, as a company we are ready from a financial standpoint, from a cultural standpoint, from a market standpoint, the database market is quite big and the market really understands that, so it just made a lot of sense.
And I think that overall it’s actually a good thing, it’s been really well received by our customers, who appreciate knowing that we are stable and are going to be here for the long term. In terms of what it is going to change, not too much on the day to day basis, we are still committed to our core beliefs, but what it does do is give our customers confidence that we are going to be around for a long time. That we are going to be building the database of the future, not of the next five minutes.
An easier purchasing decision
Horowitz said that the aim of making Atlas available on the AWS Marketplace is that customers that have gone all in with Amazon, don't then have to think about a separate budget or billing process to buy Mongo Atlas. Instead this can be all grouped together - making the purchasing decision easier for large enterprise buyers. He explained:
What’s happened for us and a lot of our clients, especially with Amazon, is they’re buying large amounts of AWS services and use MongoDB. If you sign up for a large enterprise deal with Amazon, and you’ve already gone through the procurement process, you can now easily buy MongoDB Atlas through the Marketplace. It just makes it easier.
You don’t have to think about your spend differently, you can sort of sign up for your big AWS spend and you can use Amazon products or Atlas on top of Amazon. It all just works the same, it’s all built the same.
I asked Horowitz if buying through the AWS Marketplace meant lower margins for MongoDB - as opposed to buying it directly - but he wasn’t willing to comment beyond saying that “it’s not a bad thing [for Mongo] and it’s something that we want to happen, it’s not something we are scared of”.
There are also feature-set advantages to buying Atlas via AWS, according to Horowitz. He explained:
The combination of Amazon and Atlas, a feature that came out six weeks ago, is cross-region Atlas clusters, which I think is a pretty interesting feature. You can have a single Atlas cluster that spans multiple regions, those regions can be for high availability, so if an entire region goes down your database is still up. Or for local reads - so you can use US as your main database, then you can put a secondary in London, Japan, Sydney, so that you can reduce your latency. That’s a pretty interesting one.
Following the IPO, I was also keen to hear from Horowitz what Mongo has planned for the coming months. He said that most of the development work will focus on its core database and the recent release of Stitch - a backend-as-a-service platform (read our write up here). Also, the focus on developers’ ease of use will continue to be key. He said:
I think what you will see from us is especially a lot of the same. A lot of focus on developer features. I still believe that developers are the heart to everything. And making databases that make developers more productive is the best thing we can do and our strong suit.
I think then it will be a cross combination of the core database and on Stitch - we are doing a lot of investment on Stitch. You will see a lot of the developers writing those applications, whether they’re IoT, mobile or web-based applications, it’s a pretty big thing. And we are quite bold on Atlas, we’ve got quite an interesting roadmap for Atlas in the next 12 months.
However, challenges remain, most notably the competition. Horowitz added:
I think the biggest challenges are that we are still not as big as Amazon or Google. We are now public, which is great. But we are still not as big as the other players. So we’ve just got to be at the top of our game.
We have some inherent advantages - there’s no vendor lock in, you can use Atlas on any cloud, those sorts of things are good inherent advantages that we have. So that’s something that we think about a lot, which most people do in the software space nowadays.