First impressions about MongoDB


After spending two days at MongoDB – I am pretty happily convinced that my instincts about both the company and the product were not off base . It’s just very different from what I am used to .

Although I was hired to run the global channels organization here , I am an engineer first (and I am not very good at reading manuals) . So the first thing I did (even before I started my first day in office ) was to instal and write a hello world .

I Kid you not – installation of MongoDB was the fastest thing I have ever seen in my SW experience . I signed up online and hit download and clicked install – and it did . If anything trumped my excitement of installing the software – that was when I saw the list of drivers available . There is a driver for every popular programming environment including C , which is my first preference coding language . Not having to learn a new language to try MongoDB – that made me believe “Bring Your Own Language” is indeed a reality . In essence – it took next to no time to instal and code a small program . Forget databases – I have never been productive this fast on any software in my life . It will be an understatement to say I am excited .

Then there is the onboarding – in less than an hour , I filled the paperwork for government stuff, insurance etc and got all the systems I need access to .

This week, I am going through a five day bootcamp with colleagues from all over the world . It’s both informative and fun – and it’s abundantly clear the company has good quality control in its hiring process . And the content delivered in the bootcamp is not a pile of PowerPoint – it is on whiteboard . For someone like me who hates PPT with a passion, this is close to nirvana.

It’s a startup in every sense . People use skateboards and ping pong tables all the time – and what is best, I can’t find any trace of a corporate hierarchy . The CEO, CTO and head of sales are as approachable as the developers and sales people . I am used to seeing people with those titles walking along typically with an entourage – and I haven’t seen it here yet . I am totally counting on it staying that way 🙂

I love our social media policy – which is to remain peaceful and not get into mudslinging even if competitors try to sling mud on us . The team is as competitive if not more competitive than any I know of . But they like to compete directly in front of customers – not in shadow matches in social media . I went back some time in twitter to see and I think this has held true from the sample I checked .

As an aside , this was in fact the reason behind my April Fool’s joke today on twitter and Facebook that I took over as VP of Social Media in MongoDB. It was a reasonably successful prank given the number of congratulations I got 🙂 (My original idea was to say I am now VP of facilities management – but started having doubts if anyone will believe to begin with)

What about customers ? I was thrilled to see a nearly unending list of customer stories with many big names that I recognize readily . I am looking forward to talking to them directly to make sure I get some first hand feedback too . There are many examples of volume, variety and velocity being handled well by MongoDB , enabling customers and partners to build apps that give them BIG VALUE.

The one I especially liked was a project that MetLife did on MongoDB . After spending 2 years and several million dollars trying to get a 360 degree view of their millions of customers – they were not successful . And then they did that in just three months with MongoDB – consolidating information stored in 70 or so policy management system . It’s pretty clear that the ability to handle schemas dynamically is key in making such a solution – I can’t imagine trying to design a classic relational database solution to combine the 70 systems . If you don’t believe me – just look at your automobile and life insurance policies side by side and decide how much is in common . There is a good chance that you will not even have policy numbers across the two that look alike – let alone the attributes for each policy . Today with the 360 degree view – a MetLife call center agent knows almost everything there is to know about a customer . Isn’t that transformational ?

Many friends have asked since I announced I am moving to MongoDB if MongoDB is competitive with Hadoop . I learned today that it is not the case and the two are quite complimentary . In fact there is a Hadoop connector from MongoDB that is capable of MapReduce functionality to be triggered in Hadoop side and it lets the results be written back to MongoDB. You can use MongoDB as the online transactional engine and Hadoop as an analytical engine side by side . That is pretty neat .

I haven’t figured out a whole lot about the ops side of devops – but if I understood the roadmap correctly , the 2.6 version being released shortly will make the ops functionality pretty sophisticated and it gets even more better in future releases . More on that as I learn more about the product.

Sorry for the rather long post – I got a little carried away with all my excitement 🙂

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4 thoughts on “First impressions about MongoDB

  1. Welcome, Vijay. Being an engineer at heart I would encourage you to continue using MongoDB and maybe even drop by the advanced internal technical training. However, I’d like to emphasize that while we may compliment Hadoop folks on what they are doing, our products are more complementary. 🙂

    • As soon as I get over my fear of using my new Mac, I intend to get back to coding . I was planning to stick with C or C++ drivers – but after chatting with a few people, I have been convinced that my better bet will be with JavaScript .

      The difficulty with keeping up with Hadoop today is that there is no one Hadoop – each distribution is taking its own direction now and I can’t keep up anymore .

  2. Like to know if mongoDB works with startup. I am an SAP guy , but lately into entrepreneurship and started making plans to put the DB on SAP HANA on AWS, but now frustrated with its pricing. For doing nothing, just to keep the instance running, the cost per month is around USD 2500. I don’t know any wise start up would take that. Like to hear any support for start up from mongoDB

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