MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Guru Rajan Ganesan
This week we’re featuring Guru Rajan Ganesan, a MongoDB Developer-certified – and soon to be DBA-certified – professional who works at Isentia as a MongoDB database administrator. Though he never imagined jumping into the tech world, Guru’s career has since taken off; today he’s using his MongoDB knowledge to tackle various digital projects, including the development of various media intelligence tools.
Eloise Giegerich: Hi, Guru! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me! I’d love to learn a little about your tech background. When did you first become interested in tech, and why did you decide to pursue a career in the industry?
Gururajan Ganesan: After I graduated in 2010, I joined a small company that develops Windows applications in VB and SQL for very small-scale industries focused on media intelligence and backend data processing technologies. It’s an unusual origin story, because I was actually kind of forced to work at that company; I didn’t have any established interest in the tech field. Instead, my aim was to run a business on my own. But my senior on the team, Ravi, was an expert in writing stored procedures and I admired his work. Having learned from watching him work, I started writing my own stored procedures, which inspired my career path. By the way, I am a techie now!
EG: Where are you currently working? What is your role, and what do you like about it?
GG: I am working at Isentia, a media intelligence software company, as a database administrator for MongoDB. But my role isn’t limited to the database admin title; I also work on monitoring SQL servers and writing Python code for various ingest services, CICD tools, AWS, and more. The best thing about my job is that before I came to Isentia, I was a DBA – and I’m officially hired as a DBA – but now I have the flexibility to move across fields, whether it be into dev-ops work, developer work, CICD integration, or more.
EG: How did you first discover MongoDB? Any cool projects you’ve used or are in the process of using with the database?
GG: In 2012, I was working for the company Redisolve. At that time, we were trying to create a natural language (NLP) parser, and the data was huge. We first moved from SQL to MySQL, but still experienced very low performance and a high monthly server cost. Because of this, we moved to MongoDB. I have used MongoDB for projects involving NLP, accounting systems, image storage, and, in particular, the digitization of a famous vehicle loan provider in India (this project was entirely developed on MongoDB); I am now using MongoDB for various media intelligence tools in projects involving location-based searches, full-text search, and others.
EG: What other databases have you worked with? How does MongoDB compare?
GG: I’ve worked with Microsoft Access, SQL, Sybase, Cassandra, Oracle, and Neo4j. These are not bad databases; they’re all good at addressing specific requirements for specific projects. But if you take any of these databases and consider the requirement, it is usually unique only to that one project – you can’t swap in another database for the same requirement. The beauty of MongoDB is that any requirement for any database can be easily processed.
EG: What inspired you to become MongoDB certified?
GG: I’ve always had the passion to pursue certification, because it consistently holds market value. I was MongoDB Developer Certified, and I will complete the DBA certification soon!
EG: That’s great! How did you prepare for your Developer certification? Or how are you approaching your DBA certification?
GG: I completed M202, M101P, M101N, M101JS, and M102, and am in the process of pursuing M310 and M312 for my DBA certification. Every time there’s an update or change in the database, I like to keep up with the courses and read the different documentation. I like that with each course, you’re able to learn small tricks to help approach the database; these tricks along with the general information you learn from the courses give you a lot of confidence around senior team members.
EG: How have you applied – or how do you intend to apply – what you’ve learned to your future projects?
GG: Like I’ve said, I’m already expanding my certification knowledge by pursuing the DBA courses. One thing I’ve learned since becoming Developer Certified is that cluster-based architecture does not break down as simply as we see in the documentation. There are many tricks for approaching clusters, which I have learned from this certification program, and which I plan on implementing in future projects.
EG: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are preparing to take their exam?
GG: First of all, theoretical study alone is not OK for this certification; you can’t just read the documents on the MongoDB pages. People preparing for certification should do the practice in shell for all the MongoDB study material provided. It’s also helpful to analyze more back-end activities, and test what happens behind the shell in backlogs/log files, oplog, replication, and more. It’s essential to understand the architecture clearly, not just on paper, but practically – hands-on.
EG: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story with us, Guru! To wrap things up, what has been your greatest takeaway from your certification experience? What advice or encouragement do you have for those considering pursuing certification?
GG: Of course, professionally, I hope my certification will be useful when I’m being considered for promotion. But on my personal path, the knowledge I now have gives me much more confidence in my ability to handle any issues I may encounter with MongoDB. And not only did my confidence grow, but my seniors trust me now that I’ve been certified. It gives you pride to wear this certification cap!
Thanks again to Guru for chatting with us! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to share your story, let us know at email@example.com.
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Konstantin Manchev
For this week’s spotlight we’re chatting with Konstantin Manchev, a DBA- and DEV-certified professional who works as a MongoDB Database Administrator at the European Patent Office out of the Netherlands. Konstantin has worked on several interesting telecom data analysis projects throughout his career; below, he shares how his MongoDB certification gave him the flexibility and freedom to grow these projects, and the confidence to approach future endeavors.
Eloise Giegerich: Hi, Konstantin! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Let’s begin by diving into your tech background. When did you first become interested in tech, and where do you currently work?
Konstantin Manchev: My tech career started back in 2001 when I began working as a telecom support engineer at Mobiltel, the first Bulgarian mobile operator, which is now part of the Telecom Austria Group. With a strong focus on data analysis and automation, my time at Mobiltel allowed me to successfully contribute to different automation and development projects using the latest market technologies in the area.
I am currently working as a MongoDB DBA in the European Patent Office (EPO). It’s an exciting place to work because we face new and multiple administration and development challenges every day, including backups, restoration, upgrades, housekeeping, and performance optimization for huge databases.
EG: How did you first discover MongoDB? Can you share any projects you’ve worked on with the database?
KM: In 2010 I was assigned to automate a telecom data analysis project; this involved collecting all prepaid systems event logs from an online charging system and identifying incorrectly charged subscribers, as well as generating statistics for specific charges per minute in real time. It was through this that I had the opportunity to test and compare suitable database storage systems that would best fit my and my team’s needs. I did some research and experimenting, and discovered the many advantages offered by MongoDB. To meet the requirements of specific use cases, some databases just took too much time and effort, or made tasks impossible to complete all together; with MongoDB, I could get the job done easily and efficiently.
MongoDB attracted me with its schemaless structure, easy scalability and deployment, availability across the majority of operating systems, clear documentation, customizable performance/reliability, and free of charge training courses. The database allowed me to focus more singularly on my application development, as I no longer needed to worry about scalability and high availability – functions that are expected by default in any real-time telecom application use case.
In late 2014, I started working at Cisco Systems, supporting one of the best mobile packet core policy applications on the market at that time, CPS (Cisco Policy Suite, formerly QPS – Quantum Policy Suite), which used MongoDB as a backend. Troubleshooting customer problems in real time with MongoDB allowed me to gain invaluable hands-on experience with the product, which is what first got me interested in pursuing certification.
In addition to working with the database itself, MongoDB’s community support has really helped my team advance our projects. At the moment, we are facing issues switching to the new storage engine, WiredTiger, which has some big advantages over mmapv1 (such as compression and document level concurrency control), but also smaller drawbacks. For example, it is currently impossible in WiredTiger to run offline database folder backups inside dbPath. As we face these drawbacks, we are happy and grateful to work with the MongoDB support team in Dublin, as they are very responsive, and always helping us with ongoing queries.
EG: What other databases have you worked with, and how does MongoDB compare?
KM: I have developed a few projects for specific telecom applications using MySQL, Postgres, and Oracle. But, as I mentioned earlier, what I like about MongoDB is the freedom it gives developers and the built-in scaling possibilities, like sharding and replication. These latter capabilities really helped me when I was developing my SMS Center events parsing, collection, and analysis project (mentioned above). Another project I worked on with MongoDB involved parsing a daily snapshot of prepaid mobile subscriber profiles, collecting and analyzing the data, and tracking changes in identification and problem analyses.
EG: You mentioned troubleshooting with MongoDB as a catalyst for your interest in certification. Was there anything else that inspired you to become certified?
KM: It was mainly that troubleshooting experience; after having significant exposure to different sizes and types of MongoDB deployments, I decided to improve my skills and try learning the technology in-depth. The way to prove that I had improved my skills and mastered the technology was to see that acknowledgement through MongoDB’s DBA and DEV certification exams.
EG: Which MongoDB University courses did you take?
KM: To prepare, I took: M310: MongoDB Security, M101J: MongoDB for Java Developers, M123: Getting Started with MongoDB Atlas, M101P: MongoDB for Developers, M202: MongoDB Advanced Deployment and Operations, and M102: MongoDB for DBAs. All the trainings were very helpful and offered great practical exercises to strengthen my confidence in the material.
EG: Since becoming certified, have you experienced any benefits, personal or professional?
KM: Personally, I now feel more confident in my skills having been DBA- and DEV-certified. Professionally, these skills are officially recognized with the certification title, which makes me a much more competitive player in job markets across the world!
EG: How have you applied, or how can you apply your certification skills to future projects?
KM: MongoDB allows you to focus on a specific project task, removing the whole complex SQL abstraction data access layer that exists in relational databases. With my certification knowledge, I’ve been able to easily use MongoDB as a backend, which makes projects move along much faster than they would’ve with a SQL system.
EG: Can you offer any advice or tips to those about to take, or retaking, their exam(s)?
KM: The good thing about MongoDB is that you don't need expensive hardware to learn. You can install your test (practice) sharded clusters in any test virtual machine of your choice and break, fix, and simulate any kind of activity. To get a hands-on experience with the database, try creating from scratch; simulate any kind of errors and try to fix them. By doing this, you will learn how MongoDB behaves in different situations and gain valuable preparation for the exams. Of course, if during the troubleshooting process you face any issues, you can always check the online documentation and forums for fresh ideas.
EG: And finally, what advice or encouragement do you have for those considering pursuing certification?
KM: It will be difficult, but be brave, face the challenges, and never give up following your dreams!
Thanks again to Konstantin for taking the time to share his story! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can Learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to be featured in a blog post, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Néstor Campos Rojas
This week we’re talking with Néstor Campos Rojas, a Software Architect working at Metric Arts, a BI consulting company based in Santiago, Chile. Néstor is a MongoDB Certified Developer, and was excited to share the different projects he’s worked on since becoming certified, tackling everything from fraud and security management in public transportation, and even the Chilean wine scene!
Eloise Giegerich: Hi, Néstor, thank you for taking the time to share your story today! Let's start by getting into your tech background. When did you first become interested in tech, and why did you decide to pursue the field?
Néstor Campos Rojas: Hi, Eloise, thanks for this interview. My interest in technology first developed when I was 16. I felt that studying and pursuing a career in the area really fit with my mentality, since I have always been someone who likes to learn, and I like to work on different things at the same time. For instance, my current job allows me to work with databases, in Web programming, and much more.
EG: That’s a good transition into my next question. Where do you currently work? What is your role, and what do you like about it?
NCR: Currently, I work in Santiago, Chile, as a Software Architect at Metric Arts. I like working for my company because they support me in my professional goals, which include everything from aspiring to develop my own company (I have many ideas in my mind for this), to honing my speciality in advanced programming, specifically Big Data and Machine Learning. My colleagues are also excellent; I learn a lot from them every day and they help me develop new projects, as well as improve current ones.
EG: How did you first discover MongoDB? What projects have you used or are you in the process of using with MongoDB?
NCR: I discovered MongoDB when I was researching new technologies for Web development (NodeJS and MEAN stack). At Metric Arts, we understand that we can’t limit ourselves, or be “stuck” to one particular technology when tackling many different developments; each development and greater project needs to be covered by one or more technology. So, it was in my search for this something new that I started to develop Web services connected to MongoDB in order to test and check the database’s speed and flexibility with data manipulation. One of the successful test projects I worked on with MongoDB involved a notification delivery system. Through an API that I developed, outside systems and applications were able to connect and send various notifications by email or SMS, alerting users to upcoming events. Because these events were diverse, I needed something with a variable structure; that’s where MongoDB came in as the solution.
EG: What other databases have you worked with, and how does MongoDB compare? If possible, we would love to hear about some specific features you like and/or dislike.
NCR: I have worked with relational databases and MongoDB, but I do not like to compare them; although they both have certain similar functions, the approaches and means through which I address and work with each are quite different. In some projects when I need consistency and data relationship, I use relational databases; when I need flexibility and scalability, I opt for MongoDB. For example, for projects with data from sensors (Arduino, Raspberry, etc.), such sensors can send large volumes of information in a short period of time and the data are very varied from each other. We knew that trying to normalize the data would be too complicated, and therefore focus on saving the data regardless of its origin and structure, with processing later if needed. This particular use case needed both the flexibility and scalability of MongoDB; I see those as the key advantages of MongoDB with respect to other engines in the market.
EG: What inspired you to become MongoDB certified?
NCR: With the modeling approach offered through document databases and the many possibilities that are opening up in the Big Data world, MongoDB was the perfect gateway to new challenges. I also saw MongoDB as an innovator in the database world, and knew that if I perfected my knowledge of it, I could more easily prepare myself for technologies whose concepts were similar.
EG: Could you share which courses you took to prepare for your exam?
NCR: I studied directly from the MongoDB documentation, then did courses M102, M101JS, and M101P. The courses were practical and gave very detailed instructions on the concepts that would appear on the exam. Because I am now involved in more Big Data projects where I need to apply database optimization and integration with other platforms (Hadoop, Spark), I am studying the M201 and M233 courses.
EG: Since becoming certified, what have been some of the benefits – personal or professional – that you’ve experienced? How have you applied, or how do you intend to apply, what you’ve learned to your future projects?
NCR: MongoDB certification has allowed me to participate in strategic projects in my company, and to lend my support to other projects, both by proposing architectures and offering advice to programmers. One of the projects where I’ve been able to apply my MongoDB knowledge is Metric Arts’s Video Analytics, due to its size and range of data possibilities; here, I’ve worked on supporting security issues through camera and fraud detection in public transport.
I’ve also applied MongoDB to a couple of Web projects where I saw the need for a flexible and scalable data model. Presently, I am using MongoDB with Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart City projects to record the information of sensors in different areas and situations. One of these IoT projects involves implementing measures to control crops in Chilean vineyards; this is especially important, because Chile is one of the largest wine producers in the world. Here, where the data of the sensors is varied and lacking defined structure, a NoSQL database is fundamental; MongoDB fulfills the objective of storing and processing data in a more agile way.
EG: For those about to take or retake their exam, do you have any advice or tips that helped you prepare?
NCR: I have several certifications, but with MongoDB, I found the preparation much better – that is, the available material the strongest – since the documentation available on the website paired with the courses cover 100% of the certification subjects. This was not always the case with other certifications.
EG: And finally, what has been your greatest takeaway from your certification experience? What advice or encouragement do you have for those considering pursuing certification?
NCR: The experience was great! From a web development specialist standpoint, I was able to understand more about the databases I work with, and familiarize myself with the corresponding tools. I would advise those preparing for a MongoDB certification to not only read the documentation, but practice taking on projects that have been developed in a relational database environment, and apply it to MongoDB; this will give them a new perspective on the treatment of data, and it is an important step towards tackling Big Data.
Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us, Néstor! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to share your story, let us know at email@example.com.
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Ajeeth Ganapathinageswaran
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Anbu Cheeralan
This week, we spoke with Anbu Cheeralan, an Engineering Lead at DoubleVerify, an Adtech product company that authenticates the quality of digital media for the world's largest brands, who became certified as a MongoDB Developer in 2013. Having used MongoDB in various projects throughout his career, Anbu was eager to share his experiences with the database, as well as to discuss the community he’s cultivated through leading his own MongoDB training sessions.
Thanks to his certification, Anbu now has the confidence to assure customers of his MongoDB proficiency, and he’s applying that confidence to all current and future projects he takes on.
Eloise Giegerich: Thanks so much for taking the time to share your certification story, Anbu! Let’s begin by discussing your tech background. How did you get your start in tech, and what motivated you to become an Engineering Lead?
Anbu Cheeralan: I completed my BS in Computer Science and Engineering at Madurai Kamaraj University in India, and started working for Cognizant Technology Solutions as a consultant for their Insurance Product division. I have worked with databases for more than 10 years. Back in 2013, I was working on an Insurance use case that gave me my first peek into the NoSQL world; MongoDB in particular attracted me because of its ease of use, especially in getting started. After Cognizant, I worked as a Big Data Consultant for MetLife for two years, where I used MongoDB and Hadoop, before moving to my current role at DoubleVerify in 2015. I like being an engineering lead because it allows me to tackle and solve interesting problems by thoughtfully leading team efforts that draw upon everyone’s strengths.
EG: You mentioned discovering MongoDB when you first began working with NoSQL. What was your database experience like prior to that, and how does MongoDB compare to some of the RDBMS you’ve worked with?
AC: Over the course of my career I’ve used DB2, Hive, HBase, and MongoDB. As a lead developer with a lot of RDBMS experience, I was searching for something new; in 2013, when the above use case presented itself, I recognized that I needed a data model that was dynamic, flexible, and semi-structured. Representing the use case in RDBMS was somewhat awkward and not easily manageable. When I began to branch out and look for something else, I found Polyglot Persistence and NoSQL.
I prefer to use MongoDB when the data model is evolving or changing frequently. The MongoDB client/driver system is more versatile than that of any other system I’ve seen, and the use cases and tooling for MongoDB have grown tremendously over the years, which is impressive.
EG: Can you share some of the specific projects you’ve worked on that used MongoDB?
AC: I have used MongoDB in a couple of interesting projects. In one, I worked with a Group Health Insurance Enrollment System, which adds new insurance applicants and applications into its system at a rapid pace. Another project focused on backend development where I used MongoDB for an auto insurance rule validation, and also as a simple pub/sub queue.
EG: What about MongoDB certification attracted you?
AC: As a consultant, gaining customer confidence is the most important thing. Working in cutting edge technologies adds additional stress to customers and consultants; clients want to know that you’re really proficient with a given technology if you’re going to be using it on their behalf. Being certified can ease that concern and build confidence. For example, when I started working in data modeling with MongoDB, my certification, the credible proof of knowledge, gave my customers the confidence to trust in my abilities to meet their needs. In other words, MongoDB Professional Certification was the obvious way for me to prove that I knew how to use MongoDB.
EG: Which courses did you take, and did you find them challenging? Rewarding?
AC: I enrolled in the M101J, M101JS, M101N, M101P, and M102 courses; I also studied the MongoDB Documentation, Presentations, and the book MongoDB: The Definitive Guide by Kristina Chodorow to help broaden my knowledge. One of the main challenges I encountered was having to unlearn techniques that were suitable for RDBMS but not for MongoDB. As an example, 1:M data modeling is a bit different between RDBMS and MongoDB, depending on how big the M is. It took me some time to fully process this switch; I had to readjust to what was already familiar, innate. But the rewarding part of the process was that the MongoDB University courses were very hands-on and offered just the right-sized chunks of information to digest these new concepts.
EG: How has being certified helped you in your work? Have you seen a tangible change?
AC: As a consultant, being certified in MongoDB has helped me make cases for best practices and convince stakeholders. In the Health Insurance Enrollment System use case, for instance, I was able to effectively model the complex data with MongoDB, which earned me fast approval from experienced Enterprise DBAs.
With my knowledge from the MongoDB University courses, I have also been able to train 40+ consultants in MongoDB development. Through this immense experience, I’ve realized that having the opportunity to teach is often an even better way to learn than being taught. Q&A sessions during these trainings helped all of us gain more insight into MongoDB’s architecture and client APIs.
And in my own projects, as I’ve mentioned, I was able to more seamlessly apply MongoDB to use cases where the data model was not a natural fit for RDBMS and contained semi-structured data.
EG: Looking back, what has been your greatest takeaway from the certification process?
AC: My MongoDB certification has helped me assure that I am following the best practices when I design and develop a solution using MongoDB. I now have the confidence to build the right solution thanks to my strengthened MongoDB knowledge, and the proven ability to demonstrate those skills!
Thanks for talking with us today, Anbu! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to share your story, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Rory Bramwell
Rory Bramwell is a Jamaican, dual-certified MongoDB Professional working as a DevOps engineer at Pythian, a global IT services company. Pythian helps businesses adopt disruptive technologies to advance innovation and increase agility. This week, Rory’s talking to us about his extensive journey into tech, including his early determination to take a Computer Science course at college, and the support he received from his family to pursue his passion.
Eloise Giegerich: Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, Rory. I know you currently work at Pythian, but how did you arrive at this role? What was it that inspired you to get into tech?
Rory Bramwell: I've been curious about IT from a young age, but it was only after high school that I had access to a PC at home. This was around 1998, at the beginning of the widespread use of the worldwide web. Having access to a computer enabled me to get a firsthand view of what computers were and what they could do. This is where I discovered programming languages, the building blocks of the modern OS, and its application software. Over the next few months, I learned the Basic and Pascal programming languages.
My next milestone was starting community college in the Natural Sciences program. This program was geared towards preparation for entry to medical school. One day during our math class, the instructor said he was going to start a Computer Science course as a new offering. He asked if any of us would be willing to switch or drop any of our other courses to pursue this new path; I jumped at the opportunity. From this course I was introduced to more computing concepts and learned C++. I remember working for days on a function in C++ to display a multi-colored histogram given a set of five values. This was just for fun, but I learned that I was passionate about programming and wanted to see where it would take me.
After leaving community college, I decided to enroll in a 10-month software programming course at the Caribbean Institute of Technology (CIT) (now renamed as Heart College of Innovation and Technology (HCIT)). The main location of the institution was about an hour and a half away, but a new location was slated to be opened about 20 minutes from where I lived. But the opening of the new location never happened that year, so I had to defer my enrollment until I could make arrangements to attend the course at the main location the next year. Over the next year, my passion continued to grow and I took it upon myself to learn C (yes, I went back one step to learn the origins of C++), advanced C++ (classes, templates, and standard library), and Microsoft Visual C++.
The next year, with the help of family, I relocated temporarily to the town where the main CIT campus was. Over the next 10 months, I revisited a lot of the programming languages I had previously learned, gained a basic knowledge of the UNIX and Linux operating systems, and added Visual Basic, Core Java, and Java EE to my list of programming languages. At the end of the course, I graduated at the top of the class and received a trophy for excellence as the top performing student, as well as three of four sectional awards. This was validation for my efforts, but more so for my family. A career in IT/programming was new and uncertain, and success at this stage was reassuring.
In the years following the software programming course, I worked as a technical representative for a web hosting company where I learned more about web hosting, domain, email, and linux servers. I further supplemented my knowledge by taking classes for CCNA, Cisco's associate level networking certificate, and acquired the official CCNA certification. Over the next few years I branched off into other roles spanning system and network administration, database administration, software design and development, graphic design, telecommunications, IT project management, and service delivery. Throughout the years, one of the keys to staying passionate and motivated has been continuing to learn new, innovative, and more efficient ways of doing things. I've taken full advantages of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), from Coursera, edX, and Open2Study, and taken many other online and offline courses as well.
EG: Why did you decide to become a DevOps Engineer/Consultant, specifically? What do you like about your role?
RB: DevOps was a mix of all the strengths I had: Development, Operations, Database Administration. It is often said that DevOps Engineers either come from a Development or Operations background; I had a background in both. DevOps was a perfect fit; it allowed me to fully leverage the knowledge and skill set that I had acquired over the years.
I currently work as a DevOps Engineer for Pythian, where each day I get the opportunity to help our customers achieve their business goals through the use of continuous transformation and operational excellence. I love learning new and innovative ways to use technology to solve problems. Another thing I love about my role is that I get to work with a highly skilled and talented team, and be part of an industry that has some of the greatest minds and people so passionate about what they do.
EG: How did you first discover MongoDB? Have you used or are you planning to use MongoDB in any of your projects?
RB: My first formal introduction to MongoDB was while doing a Coursera specialization on Android Mobile Application Development. In one of the videos, the instructor showed us how to perform create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) operations on MongoDB through the use of Spring Data JPA. This piqued my interest in MongoDB, and specifically the benefits it had to offer over traditional relational databases. I visited the MongoDB website and was intrigued by their approach to NoSQL. The use of JSON documents to store records, schemaless design, ease of use, flexibility, and speed of the database were all positives for me. I later discovered MongoDB University and enrolled in my first of many MongoDB Developer/DBA courses.
In the past I have used MongoDB as a backend for a mobile application. At the moment I do not have any projects that are using MongoDB. However, I am always happy to recommend MongoDB to friends and colleagues in their projects.
EG: What other databases have you worked with, and how does MongoDB compare? Please elaborate on some of the differences between databases, if possible.
RB: In addition to MongoDB, I've worked with Microsoft SQL, MySQL, Oracle in the enterprise, and a number of cloud hosted databases. There are a number of aspects to consider when choosing any database for a project. MongoDB shines in instances where you need a solid database that's flexible, fast, scales horizontally, and is aligned with development needs. It allows you to go from zero to MVP to production in a lot less effort than some of the other contenders.
EG: What inspired you to become MongoDB certified?
RB: After taking a few of the courses on the MongoDB University website, becoming certified was the next step. The courses were well put together, covering not only theoretical concepts but also providing great practical examples to enable you to be productive on day one. I would also like to give a special shout out to the docs team. I found the MongoDB docs website to be a phenomenal resource.
EG: What did you find challenging about the courses? What did you find rewarding?
RB: As I mentioned, the courses were well put together, so that was plus. In the beginning, a few of the concepts took a bit of getting used to, but each time the docs website provided great supplement and clarity. The further you go through the courses the more rewarding it becomes. You start to see how great MongoDB is and how you can use it to both achieve greater agility and scale to meet demands if/when needed.
EG: What are some of the benefits, personal or professional, you’ve experienced post-certification?
RB: I followed through on learning MongoDB from getting to know the product and becoming passionate about the myriad of possibilities it provides. I'm MongoDB Dual-Certified – that is, I hold both the MongoDB Certified Developer and MongoDB Certified DBA certifications. I'm also currently the only MongoDB Certified individual in Jamaica as reported by the MongoDB Certified Professional Finder. Being MongoDB certified has helped me stand out when it comes to job opportunities, and in fact was very instrumental in the acquisition of my current job as DevOps Engineer for Pythian.
EG: Now that you’ve successfully become certified, can you share any advice for those studying for or retaking their exam? Are there any specific preparation strategies you found useful?
RB: Here are my tips for taking and passing the MongoDB certification exams:
- Take courses on the MongoDB University website. They are well put together and I highly recommend.
- Make the MongoDB Documentation website your best friend. The docs website is full of great information and should be thought of as your number one go-to for all things MongoDB. The time I spent on the docs website was invaluable.
- Jump right in: Download the MongoDB server, install it, and practice. Whether you’re doing Development or DBA, nothing substitutes for practical application of the knowledge you've acquired.
EG: It’s been great learning about your tech journey. To close, what has been your greatest takeaway from your certification process, and why would you encourage others to pursue certification?
RB: The greatest takeaway for me was the personal satisfaction of acquiring the certifications. Getting to know MongoDB and the possibilities that it provides will open your mind to thinking about new and innovative applications you can develop. Whether you’re a developer working on mobile, web, or desktop applications, or a DBA that ensures the performance, availability, and security of your organization’s databases, I encourage you to become MongoDB certified. You will stand out as a qualified and highly sought after professional, and be part of a thriving community of MongoDB certified professionals.
Thanks for sharing your story, Rory! If you’d like to hear more from Rory, follow him @RoryBramwell on Twitter. And if you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to be featured in a future blog post, let us know at email@example.com.
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Ulrich Cech
This week in our MongoDB Certified Professionals Blog Series we’re talking to Ulrich Cech, a Developer/Architect at Deposit Solutions in Hamburg who became certified as a MongoDB developer in 2016. A longtime lover of IT and programming, Ulrich discusses how he first discovered MongoDB, how it compares to relational models, and why he believes getting certified keeps you in the Big Data loop.
EG: Hi, Ulrich! Let’s start by discussing how you got into tech; what interested you about the industry? What do you like about your role at Deposit Solutions and what inspired you to become a developer and architect?
UC: IT and programming have always been my favorite hobbies; I like programming because with little environment and minimal limits, you can construct awesome things. It’s kind of like building your own small universe, which behaves according to your design and desire.
My first job was at a software company that focused on foreign trade and German customs. It was a very cool company in Stuttgart, and I was able to learn a lot working there. Currently, I work at Deposit Solutions in Hamburg as developer/architect, specializing in the real estate bond area. Since moving to Hamburg, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some very cool projects. In my role, I try to help to think about using the right architecture and design for the given domain, project, or product.
What most inspired me to become a developer and architect was a desire to avoid “cargo cult programming.” The latter has been one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered in projects; essentially someone says “we need framework A and library B and architecture C” because they’re new and exciting, but no one considers whether or not this structure will actually fit the current problems. This lack of planning results in tremendous code production, which in the end turns out to be completely useless.
EG: How did you first discover MongoDB? In what projects have you used/are you in the process of using MongoDB?
UC: I first discovered MongoDB at DreamIT GmbH in Hamburg, where it was used for a gaming platform. I had heard of NoSQL databases before, but my background was in the relational world. When I first saw MongoDB in action, my immediate thought was, "That cannot be real, that is too easy.” After working with the database, I grew to like it more and more; what specifically impresses me is that you don’t have to "convert" or change object-oriented thinking as you would with a relational database.
At Deposit Solutions, I am interested in employing MongoDB for a new Microservices project. As for my private projects, I use MongoDB in conjunction with Morphia as a document-to-object-mapper; I like that MongoDB enables an easy setup and the perfect match with domain-driven design.
EG: What other databases have you worked with, and how does MongoDB compare?
UC: In my former projects I dealt with Oracle, but it was mostly abstracted via Java Persistence API (JPA). Currently, I have to deal with MySQL, which is not fun. PostgreSQL is also a database I’ve worked with, and it is my favorite database to use when I’m required to use a relational database.
What I like about MongoDB is that it is incredibly easy to use. You can set it up in no time, even as a cluster on a local machine, since there is no complicated setup and installation process. Another great advantage is that you don't have to split your domain objects into relational thinking. Instead, you have your domain object and you can (nearly) insert this one-to-one into your database. And finally, you don't have this awful time-consuming process of schema updates, because MongoDB is schemaless. Sure, you should use some kind of structure, and shouldn’t put everything into one collection ;-). But if you decide to change a field for your data type, or add or remove a field, the operations don't require you to change databases.
MongoDB does lack transactions across multiple documents. In most situation, the need for transactions is due to the relational design, so this can mostly be avoided in MongoDB completely. But in some situations, you need multi-document transactions. I hope these transactions will be introduced in upcoming releases – I know it is a high priority topic for MongoDB ;-)
EG: What inspired you to become MongoDB certified?
UC: I like to prove my knowledge. In general, certifications show one’s personal ability to constantly self-educate. Unfortunately, there are many certifications out there, which usually cost a fortune. But MongoDB’s certification prices are affordable. Plus, MongoDB is relatively new on the market, so a deep knowledge of the database can be helpful in the future when it comes to new job opportunities.
EG: What was challenging about the courses and what was rewarding?
UC: The course I took – M101J: MongoDB for Java Developers – was well structured and provided a good starting point to learn the basics; topics like the aggregation framework, for instance, though challenging information to absorb, can be extremely powerful. But the courses alone should definitely not be your only means of preparation. Those hoping to be certified need to read the official documentation for MongoDB and for the individual courses in order to ensure that they can work fluidly with the database. The more you query and play with data, the more familiar you can become with all the features of MongoDB.
EG: Since becoming certified, what have been some of the benefits, personal or professional, that you’ve experienced? How have you applied – or how do you intend to apply – what you’ve learned to your future projects?
UC: Well, on a personal level, it is always a good feeling to be certified ;-). Unfortunately, in my current work projects, MongoDB is not being used. But like I mentioned above, I am actively trying to introduce it into one Microservices project.
When it comes to things like sharding and clustering, you have to understand how to correctly set up and employ these concepts. Because of this, the knowledge absorbed through preparing for MongoDB certification is a great benefit. But there is more to this, too. For successful MongoDB usage, you cannot adopt the old relational thinking.Thorough knowledge of domain design in the database comes with experience, either through projects or through playing around in a private environment, wherein you can test things and find the right solution for the right use case. MongoDB’s certification offers the necessary and fundamental platform to begin to gain this experience.
EG: Looking back now, can you share any advice for those studying for (or retaking) their exam? Are there any specific preparation strategies you found useful?
UC: Personally, I think the best strategy is to educate yourself and learn as much as possible. I know this sounds self-evident; it is. But the more you know and the more knowledge you have, the easier it is to answer questions. Like I touched on previously, you shouldn’t rely solely on the courses. They are a good starting point, but you need much more in-depth knowledge. It’s a must to read the official documentation; there are many use cases described in depth, which are very helpful.
While preparing for the certification exam, I also read through the MongoDB Definitive Guide, which I found very helpful. The guide’s third and most updated edition is forthcoming this year.
Finally, and perhaps my most important suggestion: Use MongoDB, query the database, and create indexes, analyzing if and how they perform. Use the Aggregation Framework, trying to think of some questions your datasets can answer, and build these queries and pipelines on your own. Model multiple domains and think about how the data will be best stored in MongoDB. Set up a replica set, even a sharded cluster, and add and remove nodes. The best strategy is to get hands-on knowledge of the database.
EG: And finally, what has been your greatest takeaway from your experience getting certified? Why would you encourage others to pursue certification?
UC: I think my greatest takeaway has been the confirmation that knowledge can never be bad. MongoDB is often used in the Big Data environment, and this domain is becoming increasingly important in the tech community. Because of this, demonstrating experience in this domain can be critical to finding a suitable job opportunity. And finally, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to become certified. As I mentioned, you don't have to spend a fortune, and if you prefer, you can take the courses and the exam at home and on your own time. For me, this was absolutely great and time-saving.
Thanks for sharing your story, Ulrich! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to be featured in a future blog post, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: May Mascenik
We’re happy to introduce a new blog series interviewing MongoDB Certified Professionals. To kick off this series, we talked with May Mascenik, an IT Engineer and Project Manager based in Los Angeles at ITP. Headquartered in Japan and focused on information design, ITP utilizes new devices, creates content designed to match user activities, and researches IoT and other new fields and technologies.
In 2016, May was selected as a MongoDB Diversity Scholar; grateful for the opportunity and eager to contribute to and learn from the MongoDB community, she made the decision to become dual-certified by MongoDB as both a Developer and a DBA. We reached out to her recently to learn more about her certification story, as well as what being certified means to her.
Eloise Giegerich: To start, I would love to hear a little about your background, and how you got into tech. Where do you currently work, and what do you like about your role?
May Mascenik: Twenty years ago, I began working as a Project Administrator in the engineering department of the Standard Communications Corporation; because I admired the engineers’ work, I pursued an electronics course. I liked it, but the engineers recommended that I move to software in order to follow the tech trend. Later, I got a job at Hitachi Software (now Hitachi Solutions) where I was able to gain significant hands-on training. I started studying and obtaining tech certificates – one certificate per year – from Microsoft, Cisco, and ISACA, among others, mostly related to projects I was working on at the time.
Since 2014, I’ve been working for a company called ITP in Los Angeles as an IT Engineer/PMP. In 2016, I chose to become MongoDB certified because I desperately wanted to be fluent in the database for the specific project I was assigned. I like my role at ITP because it always offers me opportunities to learn new technology, which in turn allows me to develop and utilize new skills.
EG: How did you first discover MongoDB? What projects have you used or are you in the process of using with MongoDB?
MM: I took over a web/mobile app project; the app was built with Meteor and used MongoDB as the backend. I became interested in MongoDB while working on this project, and completed the M102 DBA course through MongoDB University, then M202 and all the DEV courses (M101J, M101JS, M101N, and M101P). With my new experience and knowledge, I was able to update the app that the former developer at my company had left; I became excited after this, and began to use MongoDB for other apps.
EG: What other databases have you worked with? How does MongoDB compare?
MM: I have worked with Microsoft SQL, Pervasive SQL, MySQL, and Oracle; all are relational databases. When it came to MongoDB, I was amazed by the flexible and dynamic data model. I’m still handling multiple relational databases and supporting the structured and predefined architecture on my current projects. However, as our business grows toward e-commerce and CMS type solutions, MongoDB’s NoSQL database is preferred because it allows us to build an application without predefining the schema, and to add any types of data to the system with different iterations.
EG: What inspired you to become MongoDB certified? Why both certifications?
MM: Besides the above-mentioned reason (for my 2016 certification selection, I chose MongoDB), I was fortunate enough to be awarded the 2016 MongoDB Diversity Scholarship, and decided that getting certified was one way to continue to contribute to the MongoDB community. I worked on DBA and DEV certifications together because I work in both fields at my company, and wanted to prove that I could be dual-certified.
EG: What was challenging about the courses? What was rewarding?
MM: Most of the courses run for seven weeks. Though you can watch the lesson videos and complete the homework at any time, the modules have strict weekly deadlines. Having a full-time job with multiple projects, I needed to take more time for work some weeks, which gave me less time to study. But in the long run, the time crunch is good! The deadlines force one to learn without delay. I felt great when I completed each course and received the certificate of course completion; I still feel like taking more MongoDB University courses.
EG: Since becoming certified, what have been some of the benefits, personal or professional, that you’ve experienced? How have you applied—or how do you intend to apply—what you’ve learned to your future projects?
MM: Since becoming certified, I have become more easily recognized through the MongoDB Certified Professional Finder and Advocacy Hub websites. I also now have a strong understanding of the challenges that the other certified professionals faced; because of this, I am eager to share my own experience and contribute to MongoDB alongside its other enthusiasts. Regarding current projects, I recently started looking into using MongoDB with AEM (Adobe Experience Manager), and am eager to continue my research.
EG: Looking back now, can you share any advice for those studying for (or retaking) their exam(s)? Are there any specific preparation strategies you found useful?
MM: First of all, for exam retakers, I’ve passed many certification exams on my first attempt, but not MongoDB’s – so if you fail, do not get discouraged! Instead, think of the Performance Report as another lesson to consider; the exam result is not an indicator of failure, but of weak points to continue to work on.
For DEV, I strongly encourage hands-on practice. When you complete the weekly homework and practice, it can be helpful to type out all of the answers and try them – run the code, verify the app or web functions – on a terminal so that you can understand what MongoDB finds acceptable.
And for both DBA and DEV, stick with the official exam study guide, which provides many links to the information you should absorb. If the online courses are still one version older, cover the difference by watching the What’s New in v3.4 (or vX.X in the future) video, and read the release notes to learn about the different features that have since been included.
EG: To close, I would love to know what has been your greatest takeaway from your experience getting certified. Why would you encourage others to pursue certification?
MM: If I can do it, so can you! In case you lose Internet connection or get disconnected from the test site for any reason during the exam, don’t panic. It happened to me once, but all of my answers were saved and I was able to resume the exam without starting from the beginning.
I would strongly encourage others to pursue a MongoDB certification; my certifications have given me great confidence and recognition thanks to my listing in the Certified Professional Finder. I am happy to receive messages and invitations from people not only in the US, but from all over the world!
Thanks to May for sharing her story! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process. If you’re already certified and would like to be featured in a future blog post, let us know at email@example.com.
What This Year’s MongoDB World Diversity Initiatives Mean for the Future of Tech
While there’s no question that the murky—if not absent—history of diversity has long been a problem in the tech world, many companies and organizations are now quietly revolutionizing the industry image, working to create more visibility and opportunity for the underrepresented voices of the community.
Since 1994, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, partnered with the Association for Computing Machinery, has been hosting the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), a conference that brings together the community of women technologists and, as its name denotes, celebrates their contributions to the field.
In the last five years alone, the industry witnessed a new wave of diversity forces, with conferences and organizations like Tech Inclusion, TransHack, Black Girls Code, Trans Tech Social, and Free Code Camp not merely providing necessary recognition and education to those frequently shunted aside in tech, but stripping away the old boys’ club image of the community to give way to something more innovative and imperative.
At MongoDB, diversity is still a challenge. But like others in our field, we’re working to implement the critical change we believe vital for future generations of tech. At this year’s World, we were excited to announce two new diversity initiatives: our Diversity Scholarship Program, which provided support to often marginalized groups in tech, including people who identify as women, African-American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, low-income, and people with disabilities who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to attend MongoDB events; and our Female Innovators program, which invited some of the leading women in the industry to participate alongside the Diversity Scholars in various sessions throughout the conference.
Stressing the importance of implementing these two separate programs, MongoDB’s Marketing and Events Specialist—and leader of diversity initiatives at MongoDB World—Danielle James explained,
There is a big emphasis on increasing gender diversity in technology, something we seek to address through the Female Innovators program, but there is [also] a much starker ethnic/racial divide in technology that tends to receive less attention than gender stats. Increasing this type of diversity is equally important, and is the reason I created the Diversity Scholarship.
This year, we welcomed nine Diversity Scholars and over 50 Female Innovators. All received complimentary admission to the conference, and Diversity Scholars were offered the additional opportunity to attend a free pre-conference of their choice and were given a MongoDB certification voucher and three-month access to paid MongoDB University courses.
Thanks to these attendees, we were able to not only learn from key members of the community, but provide them with their own space to talk tech and industry experience. This space, the Women and Trans Coders Lounge (run by our Women and Trans Coders group here at MongoDB), acted as a networking and programming hub throughout World—and a refreshing escape.
At a conference like World where it’s not unusual to get swept up in the ebb and flow of men, typically white men, migrating to and from various sessions, I found it inspiring to enter the Lounge, where new voices were given a platform and creative energy a place to flow. When I asked some of the people attending the Lounge’s Day 2 Techtonic Plates Lunch—one of two events offering technical talks by members of MongoDB, Google, and more—if they felt like the space was too niche, a measure to check off the “diversity box,” the answer was wholeheartedly no. “Absolutely not,” said one coder, before launching into a debate with her neighbor, MongoDB Lead Product Manager Asya Kamsky, about an idea for a new application. “When you are part of a minority,” said Diversity Scholar Lina Lora, “you have to be prepared for two challenges: overcoming stereotypes and finding opportunities. The first can be done with time, by proving hard work and improving your skills. But finding opportunities needs networking, interacting, and explaining what you've done and what you are good at, and looking for chances out there.”
Building on this networking emphasis, fellow Diversity Scholar Krystal Flores added, “The Techtonic Plates Lunch planted small seeds; as more conferences continue to hold relationship-building sessions like those of MongoDB, leaders from underrepresented groups will find each other. They will bond and create support networks that will be catalysts for the next generation of coders.”
Of course, from here, we can only further our initiatives. While World was certainly a step in the right direction, our efforts towards building a more diverse community still need strengthening. As Diversity Scholar Mwai Karimi noted, “Being a vehement advocate for women, I was particularly impressed and challenged by the ladies I met at the Women and Trans Coders Lounge. … The message was clear, that you can't avoid this group of people. It's an unstoppable force. I only wished that [the] influential people who spoke in the different sessions were present during the lunch. We can't talk about having diversity in companies and just put diverse people in one place alone without some of these guys.”
And just as it’s not enough to group the underrepresented members of tech together without broader integration, it’s not enough to limit their voices to a lounge, a lunch, or even a conference. Says Flores, “Industry leaders, do you want more diversity in your companies? … Find the most able, engaging leaders. Encourage their successes. Let them shine. When young black boys or young Latinas or any other child see older versions of themselves professing the power of databases or any specific coding language, perhaps then the children, the future, will be galvanized into action. The numbers can be changed.”
As we move forward from this year’s World, we are continuing to develop programs to grow diversity at MongoDB. We will be kickstarting MongoDB Europe’s Diversity Scholarship program later this month, and are always looking for ways to expand the reach of our internal groups, Women and Trans Coders, MongoDB Women’s Group, and MongoDB Queeries Group. Since June, we have also been excited to support Girls Who Code by offering those who download MongoDB an opportunity to donate to the nonprofit. For more information on how you can help, click below:
*About the Author - Eloise Giegerich*
Eloise recently joined MongoDB as a Product Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Film, and when she's not in the office, works as a freelance editor for Boston's NPR News Station.