This was the first MongoDBWorld and was a very different type of event to that which I am used to. No overt flogging, plenty of product meat, mercifully short keynotes and top class customer references to the point of being spoilt for choice. Crucially, MongoDB was smart in offering separate case study led business and technology tracks. .
See: MongoDBWorld’s keynote of ideas lifts the spirit for my early impressions.
Let's consider the plus points.
First - attendance. A month or so ago, I was told this might be a small event with maybe 500-700 people in attendance. In the end, MongoDB blew out all the numbers with an eventual registered attendance of close to 2,000. On day one, attendees were queuing around the block to get in well after the opening keynote bell had been sounded.
That gives you an indication of the scale of interest for a company that only had a handful of employees a few years ago. MongoDB now counts 400 on the payroll, 7 million downloads of its software and a very credible 500 partners. Day 2 and it was standing room only for Werner Vogels, CTO Amazon and most of the sessions I attended were tightly packed.
Second - tone at the top. CEO Max Schireson is a quiet and self admitted introvert. In the words of one colleague, an uber geek and not given to hyperbole. Even so, in a conversation we had the second day, I was pleased to hear the way he describes the model MongoDB is following that basically goes something like this: understand that with so many potential data sources and applications, an infrastructure player like MongoDB needs to be a good actor, partnering sensibly, giving developers a reason to share code and pricing at a point that is not for one or two applications but for a market where there will be many thousands of applications. The key is keeping the company and ecosystem closely aligned.
Third - despite many customers you'd normally bucket in the 'conservative' category, such as the Veterans' Administration, Citi and even Bosch, it is clear that MongoDB's positioning and pricing is allowing buyers to take 'fail often' risks. That is a fresh dimension to the enterprise 'way' which is normally choked with governance issues. Such is the confidence of some buyers that Citi for example claim to have established MongDB as a Service (MaaS.) I have never heard that from any other vendor about any other product.
During the second day, I recorded four conversations with five people from MongoDB: the CEO, VP channels, product marketing, marketing and strategy/business development. This was an unusual shoot for me since we don't tend to concentrate on vendor representatives. On this occasion I felt it is important to give readers a flavor of how this company is coming together in key areas.
As a short cut, I hacked out core pieces of those conversations and created a compilation (see above.) The video quality is inconsistent for logistical reasons but the sound quality should be fine. Each short segment presents a different aspect of the overall business model equation.
On a personal note, I was especially pleased to meet Matt Asay, well known in the open source world, who also writes independently, with authority and is separately compensated by Read Write Web. He discusses a topic close to our interests: the clean separation of content that demonstrates independent thinking. Of particular note is that Asay has no difficulty lauding competitive products. This is almost unheard of by a vendor representative in the public domain but a firm indication of the sense of humility that pervades MongoDB. It is an example to others.
The full video recordings are in process of being uploaded and will be referenced separately. (see below)
I could easily nit pick about the somewhat 'cosy' accommodations but that would take away un-necessarily from what was a well produced event. I'm now looking forward to hearing more from a company that everyone should watch.
Disclosure: MongoDB covered some of my travel expenses.