10gen's MongoDB - An Oracle Slayer?

4 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

Oracle had better watch its back. There’s a new(ish) database player on the market that wants to eat its lunch; dinner, breakfast and dessert too, for that matter. Say hello to MongoDB.

In case you haven’t heard of MongoDB yet, open your ears and open your eyes. The Big Data, NoSQL, database technology which has been loved by developers over the past few years is likely coming to a company like yours.

A Database for Today's Needs

Chances are that you’ve already experienced its power as a consumer. 10gen, which sponsors Open Source MongoDB, counts foursquare, Disney, MTV Networks, Craigslist, Intuit, eBay and Orbitz, among many others, as its customers. And the database is quickly gaining traction everywhere else as well; job search engine Indeed.com says that “MongoDB” is the second fastest growing skill set listed in job postings on the web.

Add to that that 10gen (its business revolves around MongoDB) was named as the ninth fastest growing startup by the Wall Street Journal in September. Matt Asay, the company’s VP of Strategy, says that they have more than 500 paying customers, which isn’t too shabby considering that MongoDB wasn’t even available to the public until 2009. Today it is the world’s most popular NoSQL database.

Asay gives three reasons for MongoDB’s widespread adoption. First, that it is easier to manage data and scale with NoSQL databases (as opposed to relational databases) as well as to work with complex schemas that need to change as business requirements change.

Second, that traditional databases (like Oracle and MySQL, which were built decades ago) struggle with the current volume, velocity and variability of data generated by mobile, social and geo-technologies. And third, he credits developers for their warm embrace and passion around MongoDB. “Developers are today’s kingmakers,” says Asay.

When you combine those three reasons it’s no wonder that companies reach for MongoDB when traditional databases can’t do the job; the database is easy ”almost too easy” to work with, says Asay, and it’s agile, which is a must if you’re going to work in real time.

And having the database upon which to build real time applications is what it’s all about if you’re MTV and you want to track and make recommendations based on social activity; or if you’re the City of Chicago trying to predict where the next crime is going to be committed so that you can get cops there ahead of schedule to prevent it.

Asay says that MongoDB won’t be giving traditional databases a run for their money just because it’s newer and easier to use for managing data; instead, it’s because legacy databases can’t keep up with the explosion of data and the online world.

“No one wants to rip and replace enterprise technology just because they found something better,” says Asay. Companies are increasingly moving to MongoDB, and databases like it, because it’s vital for their competitiveness and even survival.

Learning Opportunities

With the Names to Back It

And Asay is hardly the only tech-exec who is excited about 10gen’s power and possibility. Union Square Ventures is an investor and their portfolio is comprised of start-ups like Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy, Meetup and SoundCloud to name a few.

Dwight Merriman, MongoDB’s founder, is a partner, together with Gilt Group founder Kevin Ryan, in Alley Corp; they are invested in their own firms and Business Insider.

10Gen’s leadership team, much of which was recently hired, is comprised of a who’s who list of Big Data and Content Management executives. There’s Asay, who not only put Alfresco on the map but was also the COO Linux vendor Canonical, makers of Ubuntu Linux; there’s Edward Albanese from Cloudera; Kurt Daniel, the former lead product manager at Microsoft's SQL Server team; and finally Ron Avnur from MarkLogic, where he’s credited for creating a petabyte-scale database.

Take an experienced management team like this, pair it with world class VC’s, a hot Big Data technology that’s agile, easy to use and Open Source, and a legion of devoted developers and it would seem that you can’t miss.

And, oh, did I mention that Asay quotes Gartner as saying that MongoDB’s potential market is 20 billion dollars (which makes it much larger than Hadoop’s)?

We’re putting MongoDB, and its corporate sponsor, 10gen on our “too hot not to watch” list. We expect to have breaking news on the company tomorrow.

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