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The Four Data Platform Must Haves for Personalized Retail

Even before the events of 2020, consumers were increasingly embracing a hybrid shopping experience that mixed the digital and the physical. Rather than making a binary choice between “bricks” or “clicks”, the customer journey can start online, before moving to a physical store for an in person demo, and then back online for the final purchase. As if that wasn’t hard enough for retailers to handle, consumers are also expecting the same personalized treatment they’re used to online to follow them in store too. Personalized store greetings, location-based offers on nearby products, and the hyper-customization of products, services, and special offers are quickly becoming table stakes experiences. With in-store beacons, electronic shelf labels, smart mirrors, AI, and a host of other connected technologies, the next frontier of personalization is the seamless connection, and blurring, of the digital and physical retail experience. The future of retail, therefore, belongs to those able to differentiate themselves with a better omnichannel, personalized experience than the competition. Talk data to me For personalized retail to work, in real time and on every channel, retailers need to master the collection, analysis, and deployment of data. Specifically, retailers need a data platform built for the following: Data privacy: The more data you collect, and the more personalized you get, the greater your responsibility to be a good steward of that data. Every aspect of data privacy, from the latest in authentication and authorization to auditing, encryption, and compliance, should be at the heart of your data strategy and a core capability of your data platform. In addition, customers expect more than just complete data privacy; they also demand that retailers allow them to take control of their data when requested. Agility: Retailing today means ingesting many different types of data from many different sources. Whereas yesterday’s retailers built their infrastructure using relational databases, with a rigid schema defined by tables, tomorrow’s retail leaders will choose a data platform based on a flexible data model, such as the document model. This flexibility can be particularly helpful for modeling data where structures can change between each record, such as polymorphic data. It also makes it easier to evolve an application during its life cycle, such as by adding new fields or enriching application-generated data with third-party data sources to provide an even fuller picture of the customer. Real-time data: While many retailers use operational analytics and intelligence in decision making, the data they’re working from is often days old, at best. The need now is for real-time data to influence real-time, real-world customer behavior. To get there, retailers must have a data platform that is capable of concurrently supporting both operational and analytical workloads without sacrificing performance. Developer and DevOps enablement: The speed at which retailers can bring new applications and services to market has never been more important. A modern data platform enabled through a database-as-a-service capability, like MongoDB Atlas, gives developers the freedom and flexibility to work seamlessly with data wherever their applications and users need it. Understand More with the MongoDB Guide to Personalized Retail The digital differentiation With the database foundations in place, retailers can begin to differentiate themselves digitally by evolving with and using technology in unexpected, unorthodox ways. Think loyalty programs activated by in-store facial recognition sensors, beacon technology connecting with apps to guide customers through stores, chat bots to help with customer questions, and augmented reality apps to help shoppers try out products at home. Strategically and successfully implementing and combining these digital capabilities will drive more customers to your products, be it online or in-store. Take a look how OTTO reinvented their ecommerce personalization for more than 2 million users per day . They were able to slash catalog update times from 12 hours to 15 minutes. Retailers can also build omnichannel experiences that blur the boundaries between the online and in-store spheres. This could take the form of scanning QR codes on in-store items for deals or information, ordering out-of-stock items to be sent to a specific store for pickup, returning online purchases to physical outlets, or redeeming loyalty points on an app for in-person purchases. Building a comprehensive picture of consumers is vital for understanding how you can create this experience. Are your consumers using smart speakers to order products? Are they active on your mobile app instead of going in-store? Can you gather data on in-store behavior — and provide online recommendations for shoppers to continue their journeys via other channels? By having this view, you can create the seamless, personalized experience your consumers desire — through any channel. Find out how turned to MongoDB to build a single view to leverage real-time data to build modern applications for everything from personalization to delivery tracking. Lastly, retailers must build a resilient supply chain to ensure a consistent flow of inventory from factory to warehouse to stores and customer homes in both directions — for purchases and returns (reverse logistics). Organizations can utilize RFID tags, GPS tracking, IoT devices, and sensors to locate, mobilize, and manage inventory across large areas and different branches and warehouses, oversee returns and exchanges, and even forecast demand based on historical trends. By unifying data from disparate sources, retailers can streamline and strengthen the supply chain, improving inventory management and enhancing customer relationships. Now, shoppers are much less likely to be blindsided by product shortages or shipping delays. Further, when these events do occur, retailers can communicate with buyers in a timely and open manner. Boxed, a leading wholesale club in the United States, who needs to deliver its products according to a strict schedule built its entire digital environment from scratch and on MongoDB Atlas, including supply chain management infrastructure, enterprise resource planning systems, warehouse management, robotics, and more. Learn how they managed to cope with a traffic spike of 30 to 35 times normal levels . Understand More with the MongoDB Guide to Personalized Retail

June 24, 2021

Built With MongoDB: FanPlay

Pritesh Kumar and Bharat Gupta co-founded FanPlay Technologies at the beginning of the pandemic that shook the world in 2020. With their real money gaming (RMG) product, they’ve joyfully brought thousands of people together across India in a safe way, while establishing the country’s leading gaming app. For this segment of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we spoke with Pritesh about their company’s business model, how MongoDB is working to their advantage, and what celebrities are already utilizing their platform. MongoDB: What prompted you to build FanPlay? Pritesh: The emergence of COVID-19 really prompted me into the startup world again. I’ve been a founder in the past, and I knew that at this time a lot of new companies would emerge, so I decided to be part of that. The idea for FanPlay came from observing Cameo . I was really impressed by its strong viral growth and its monetization of influencers. I think these micro influencers on the platform, although they don’t make a lot of money for a single video, can add massive value to any business. And at the same time, we were looking at the RMG industry, which was and still is the fastest-growing space in online gaming. But there is a real problem of very high customer acquisition cost. So, we put one and one together and started building an influencer-led, RMG platform. We get influencers to host real-money trivia games for the fans and followers on our platform. Typically these influencers promote their own shows on their social media platforms. They gather an audience from YouTube, TikTok, and various other channels, and then they come to our platform for the gaming experience. The audience usually pays a small entry fee. From that entry fee, a prize is created, that prize goes to the winner of the game, and from that prize we take a cut. So this is our business model. MongoDB: What was your initial vision for the product, and what does it look like today? Pritesh: The product has changed a lot from what we initially envisioned. We started with a web app initially because we thought that acquiring users on the web would be much easier, but then we launched our free Android app and it did very well. From there we launched our paid-entry model. So the product has gone through three iterations so far. In the beginning we worked a lot with Instagram influencers and realized that we needed to be working with influencers on YouTube, and specifically with people more regionally significant to India, where most of our business is at the moment. We have also expanded to hosting established faces from Instagram and YouTube. MongoDB: Can you tell us about the scale of the platform? Pritesh: Currently we work with about 500 influencers that have a lot of visibility, and we host roughly 20,000 active users daily, from India. Typically we run about 20 games per day, and we’re working to scale that to 100 per day. MongoDB: What does your tech stack consist of? Pritesh: The app is built in React Native, and the back end is Node.js. Then of course for a database we use MongoDB. MongoDB was a very clear choice for us. From a professional standpoint, as an early-stage startup, you don’t know what your product will eventually turn into, right? How will it evolve in the next six months or a year? So it’s difficult to stick to a schema. Therefore, you need a lot of flexibility. Because of our need for flexibility, SQL was out of the question, so we needed to go with NoSQL. Once we decided on NoSQL, MongoDB became the obvious choice because of the community support and documentation. As a founder, I believe in really fast execution and putting your product out there, rather than waiting for a pitch-perfect product. And that demands a lot of flexibility from the business, product, and tech sides, because we need to be able to make immediate changes based on the features that are demanded and that catch the users’ attention. With MongoDB, we are able to try a lot of product variations or tweaks very quickly. MongoDB: As you've scaled, is there a particular MongoDB feature you've benefited the most from? Pritesh: There are a few features of MongoDB Atlas that have benefitted us a lot. One is the performance metrics. It’s really really amazing, actually. You can get a very clear picture of the state of your database in a single snapshot. It helps you buy time to focus on shipping your core product and the technology behind it. It removes your focus on database management and cluster management and just does it for you right out of the box. Also, Atlas handles all of the sharding and scaling. And something that I didn’t foresee but found very useful is its scalability. Startups tend to start at a scale where the free version of any cloud product would be good enough, right? But then you quickly move into a very different kind of need and scale. It just keeps on changing! Atlas gives us that flexibility to scale up really quickly with a very minimal amount of effort. MongoDB: Have you used any of the MongoDB for Startups services? Pritesh: Yes! We had a session with a technical advisor. I found it really helpful for addressing the key features we are launching in the future, and the main challenges we are going to face when building them. I was able to discuss those and was very satisfied. The session was really good for us. MongoDB: Who is the most well-known celebrity to have hosted a game so far on FanPlay? Pritesh: The comedian Kumar Varun ! MongoDB: Who is your favorite TV or game show host? Pritesh: Amitabh Bachchan , who is a household name in India for his acting and for his role as host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire). MongoDB: What is your favorite podcast or blog? Pritesh: The InfoQ Podcast . It goes deep into how organizations build challenging tech products. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.

June 23, 2021

Why It's an Exciting Time to Join MongoDB's Expanding Australian Location

Although MongoDB is headquartered in New York City, our company has offices spanning the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. MongoDB is currently made up of more than 2,900 employees, and we are continuing to grow. One location experiencing expansion is Australia. Established in 2012, our Australian team is spread across our offices in Sydney and Melbourne, or remote throughout the country. In this spotlight, team members share what life is like at MongoDB in Australia and why it’s an exciting time to join. An overview of MongoDB Australia The teams based in Australia currently include Storage Engines, MongoDB Charts, Technical Services, Professional Services, Solutions Architecture, Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, MongoDB Labs, Customer Success, Developer Relations, and more. We’ll continue to build out new teams as MongoDB grows, and the opportunities in Australia will grow along with it. Katie Mapstone , Principal Recruiter, Sydney “Our teams in Australia are still small enough that employees can see the direct impact and contribution of their work. At the same time, we’re big enough that there are clear paths for professional growth and development, whether within your team or into others.” “You’re not just a cog in the wheel here, and you have a lot of autonomy and opportunity to take initiative in your role. This is a good atmosphere for those who like the freedom to create because you also have the global support of an established company. It’s a great opportunity to work at an innovative organisation where what you do really matters.” Despite MongoDB’s size, the Australian team gets the best of both worlds: a tight-knit, small-company vibe with the benefits, resources, and support of a larger, more evolved organisation. Some benefits for our Australian team members include: Above-standard 25 days of annual leave. More than 20 weeks of company-sponsored, fully paid parental leave, family planning benefits, and parental counselling support. Generous contribution toward company health insurance plan, ranging between $3,000 (single) and $7,600 (family) per year, depending on the level of coverage chosen. Income protection, life cover, and total permanent disability insurance. A generous equity and employee stock purchase program. Ongoing local and global company initiatives to support physical and mental well-being, including mental health resources, a free subscription to Headspace, gym benefits, and an employee-assistance program. Free lunches two days a week (when the team is in the office). Joey Zhang , Director of Employee Experience for APAC, India, and New Markets “At MongoDB, our goal is to create opportunities that enable employees to learn, develop, and fulfill their potential. We encourage everyone to follow their career interests and fully support transitions across teams and functions. We invest in our people for the long term through truly awesome technical and professional learning and development opportunities, including internal online learning, external coaching, workshops and accreditations, and more. Employees will openly share knowledge and experience, both work and personal, with others who may be seeking guidance or support.” “Diversity and inclusion also play a big role. People feel safe and encouraged to share their opinion, and they consider everyone else’s needs and feelings when an event is to be hosted or a decision is to be made. The sense of belonging, pride, and close-knit feeling here is significant.” The Sydney office and team culture Our largest office in Australia is in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown, a short walk from Central and Town Hall train stations. As vibrant as the city around it, our office is just minutes from the Darling Harbour and the new Darling Quarter and Darling Square, offering a spoil of some of the best restaurants in town. For the sports-minded, there are gyms, yoga studios, and an aquatic centre within walking distance. When the team was working in-office, the Workplace team organised monthly and annual events, such as wellness seminars and cultural celebrations. We also had activities such as paint nights, ping-pong tournaments, a running group, and themed parties. The pandemic posed an interesting challenge, with the majority of our employees working remotely. The team has adapted some in-office activities to ensure everyone feels connected, though, including remote lunches, trivia nights, virtual team activity challenges, workshops, cook-alongs, and more. Thomas Rueckstiess , Staff Engineer for MongoDB Labs “I’ve worked at MongoDB for almost nine years, and I’ve been provided with interesting challenges and career opportunities. I started in Support, then went on a six-month secondment to the New York headquarters as Program Manager, and finally returned to Sydney to start the Compass team and later the Charts team. Recently, I moved from a Lead to a Staff Engineer role and joined our research division, MongoDB Labs. The internal mobility available to employees is fantastic.” “One thing that makes working at MongoDB in Australia special is the team culture. I felt welcomed from day one, back in 2012 when we had only five employees in Australia. I’m glad to say we’ve been able to maintain the friendly, welcoming experience even while growing close to 100 employees in the Sydney office alone. Many of us have become close friends over the years. Before COVID-19, we regularly had barbecues or dinners together, played board games after work, or went for a run in the morning. The pandemic made seeing one another in person difficult, but the social connections remained. Now we play games online, have virtual drinks on Friday afternoons, and informally chat over Zoom and Slack throughout the day. The team here is extremely supportive and inclusive, and we’re always looking for ways to share knowledge and help one another.” Stephen Steneker , Director of Community “I’ve personally had great opportunities at MongoDB, and I really enjoy working with my colleagues. My first seven years were in the Technical Services organisation, and my responsibilities grew to a global scope while remaining based in Australia. I moved into a role in Developer Relations in September 2019, and two of my team members joined me — we’ve worked together for more than five years now.” “I recently took on an expanded role as Director of Community, leading our global DevRel community team, which includes engineering, triage, and community programs such as Champions and User Groups. I find the leadership support, alignment, and trust in our global team inspiring and highly motivational.” “The company growth has been tremendous, but I think we have done well scaling one of the harder aspects: company culture. Our six company values are top of mind and given consideration in how we recognize employees and collaborate.” Our Australian team gathers for in-person events prior to COVID-19. Meet some of our Australian teams Core development teams: MongoDB Charts and Storage Engines Alex Gorrod , Director of Engineering “The original Storage Engines team joined by way of WiredTiger, MongoDB’s first acquisition in December 2014 . At the time, I was working at WiredTiger as a software engineer. We had been developing an eponymous open source storage engine for several years, which provided high performance and scalability on modern hardware. At the time of acquisition, we were working on an integration with MongoDB’s new pluggable storage API, which would add distributed database architecture (networking, replication, sharding) that was complementary to WiredTiger’s single-server storage engine. This powerful combination would become key to the future of the core MongoDB server. The WiredTiger storage engine debuted as an alternative configuration option in MongoDB 3.0, and became the default storage engine for new deployments in MongoDB 3.2.” “Half the original WiredTiger development team was based in Sydney and integrated into the local office, which helped establish the Australian contribution to MongoDB’s global Engineering organisation, including ongoing innovative research and development. More than six years later, all the local team members who joined are still working at MongoDB. The team has collaborated with our global Engineering team to plan and deliver innovative new features such as distributed multidocument ACID transactions, which is a multiyear engineering effort.” Tom Hollander , Lead Product Manager for Charts “ MongoDB Charts is one of the pillars of the MongoDB Cloud platform, allowing users to quickly create charts, graphs, and tables from any data stored in a MongoDB Atlas database. The Charts product began its life in 2017, when it was incubated as an extension to another MongoDB product called Compass . At the time, the Compass team was split over three continents, and when the decision was made to spin off Charts as a new product it was clear there would be benefits to choosing a primary geography for each team.” “Sydney was chosen as the new home for Charts, and the team has since grown tremendously. Software development is a team sport, and having all key roles represented in Australia makes it easy to collaborate and build a strong team culture. We still frequently work with teams in other geographies, but our relative isolation is often a major plus that allows us to get stuff done without too many distractions. I feel very lucky to work for a global software company delivering one of its core products, all from the comfort of Australia.” Sales team Francesca Ruygrok , Strategic Account Manager, Australia/New Zealand “When I started at MongoDB, I was looking after 10 accounts. As our customers have grown their usage and we have expanded our team, I have been offered the opportunity to focus on two strategic accounts. MongoDB has such a strong reputation in the market, not just for our product suite, but also our leadership and go-to-market strategy. The education, coaching, and playbook you receive here will change your career for the rest of your life. Our product delivers tangible value to our clients. To work for a sales team and with customers where there is constant success is such a positive working environment to be in.” Ed Liao , Corporate Account Executive, Australia/New Zealand “My MongoDB career growth has been extraordinary. I started as a Sales Development Representative supporting the U.S. and Latin America markets. After my promotion to senior, I was approached to pilot new efforts and became the first dedicated SDR for the Australia/New Zealand region. Through this incredible opportunity, I built a new sales development model from scratch and permanently relocated from Austin, Texas, to Sydney. I then began running midmarket deals, and, after much success, I was promoted to be the first Corporate Account Executive in the region. There are more than enough career growth opportunities here, and, from a sales perspective, ANZ is a largely untapped market for modern database technology.” “What really keeps me at MongoDB is our team culture and focus on learning and development. Our sales leader and Regional VP, Jeremy Powers, wants all of us to succeed, even if it means failing a few times before we start to see results so we can truly learn and improve ourselves. The team camaraderie is also tangible — even if I do well with my numbers, I won’t feel successful if the whole team isn’t. MongoDB will give you the responsibility and trust to own what you do and allow you to grow your career at a highly accelerated pace. It’s truly an amazing time for someone to join our sales team here in ANZ.” Customer Success team Leanna Lewis , Senior Customer Success Manager, APAC “When I joined MongoDB in 2019, the Customer Success program was already well-established, but it turns out we were just getting started. Since I joined as the first Customer Success Manager outside of North America and Dublin, CS has quadrupled in size globally, and now there are multiple streams of CS ensuring our customers get the most out of MongoDB, whether they are entrepreneurial startups or a global enterprise. I love how my team strategically partners with customers and has the freedom to be flexible and creative in their approach to ensure each customer gets what they need to be successful.” “The true joy in my role is knowing I play a key part in customers’ ongoing growth and success. We get to solve real business problems and will continue to do so as MongoDB quickly evolves to meet our customers’ needs. I deliberately changed my career path from sales because I was motivated by knowing I could have a direct impact on helping customers grow. MongoDB is changing the face of the database industry, and our company culture and the incredible amount MongoDB invests in our employees in terms of training and benefits is the best I have experienced — but my colleagues are what really makes MongoDB an amazing place to work.” Technical Services team André de Frere , VP of Technical Services, APAC “The Technical Services team uses a follow-the-sun process to ensure our customers are always supported, no matter the time of day. It makes sense for Australia — and the counterpart offices in APAC — to be part of the unbroken chain of support we offer our customers. Because of time zones and geography, our daytime means we are able to work through the hours that would otherwise be very difficult for our international customers. That means we have a big impact, especially when our customers need help outside their usual office hours, which usually means help on the most urgent issues. I think the main thing about the work itself is the challenge and reward. It’s truly unlike any support organisation I’ve worked in or interacted with, and we get regular positive feedback from our customers telling us so. The team is motivated to solve interesting problems, and we work on a fast-moving technology stack with some of the world’s biggest companies. There is a lot of opportunity for our team, both in growing more technical and developing our leadership.” “MongoDB has offered me huge career opportunities. I went from Technical Services Engineer (TSE) to Senior TSE to Team Lead to Director, and now I’m an Area Vice President. The number one reason I stay, however, is the opportunity I’ve been given to work with some truly great people. We’ve built an exceptional team at MongoDB, and it has been so amazing to see how we’ve grown in Australia over the past nine years. The thing I feel most fortunate for is seeing all the people who I’ve worked with grow within MongoDB, both inside and outside Technical Services.” Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB in Australia? We have several open roles on our team and would love for you to transform your career with us!

June 22, 2021

Deploy and Manage MongoDB Atlas from AWS CloudFormation

As a premier launch partner for the recent GA announcement of the AWS CloudFormation Public Registry , we’re delighted to share that you can now deploy and manage MongoDB Atlas directly from your AWS environment. Amazon and MongoDB have been pioneers in the cloud computing space, providing mission critical systems for over a decade. Before MongoDB Atlas was launched in June 2016, tens of thousands of customers were running MongoDB themselves on AWS EC2 instances, and many of them were originally spun up using the legacy MongoDB on the AWS Cloud: Quick Start Reference Deployment. This Quick Start was among the top five most popular guides for AWS and allows users to take advantage of AWS CloudFormation 's seamless automation and MongoDB’s flexible data model and expressive query API. In April 2021, we launched a new AWS Quick Start for MongoDB Atlas , which allows AWS customers to quickly and easily launch a basic MongoDB Atlas deployment from the AWS CLI or console. Now, with the availability of the MongoDB Atlas resource types on the CloudFormation Public Registry, customers have more flexibility over their deployment configurations to better meet their cloud workflows. Let’s walk through how it works. Setup your AWS account for MongoDB Atlas CloudFormation Support The first step is to sign up for MongoDB Atlas , if you haven’t done so already. Once you create your account, follow these steps: Skip the cluster deployment options Go to Billing and add a credit card to your account Create an organization-level MongoDB Atlas Programmatic API Key with an IP Access List entry. The key needs Organization Project Creator permissions. Next, open the AWS console in your browser and navigate to CloudFormation. On the left-side navigation, select the Public extensions option. From there you will be able to find the MongoDB Atlas resource types by selecting the “Resource Types” and “Third Party” options. For each of the MongoDB::Atlas resource types, click “Activate”, and then follow on screen prompts to complete the process. Once you have activated the MongoDB Atlas resources in a region, you’re ready to launch apps with MongoDB Atlas directly from your AWS control plane. Build apps faster with Cloud Automation Context switching is a hassle for developers. Launching and deploying application stacks with MongoDB Atlas directly from the AWS console is now more seamless than ever. Whether you use the AWS Quick Start deployment guide as a template or create your own MongoDB Atlas CloudFormation templates, you can leverage the latest in cloud automation to reduce the pain of infrastructure provisioning and management. Try out the new MongoDB Atlas CloudFormation Resources today, and stay tuned for an in depth look at building apps with AWS Lambda and SAM CLI in an upcoming DevHub article!

June 21, 2021

Competitive Advantage Cannot Be Bought: Accelerating Digital Transformation With MongoDB's Application Data Platform

Business disruption isn’t new. But it is accelerating to a new, ever-more-disruptive level. That acceleration is being amplified by the forces of our era, from global health crises to political shifts to climate change, among others. These disruptive forces are creating huge changes in corporate behavior and consumer expectations. When considering changing business conditions, whether from adaptation or innovation, it’s worth asking, “Is this something that is going to default back to the way it was before?” In most cases, the answer is "probably not.” Disruption is here to stay. While that can be scary for incumbent enterprises, we believe that disruption is the opposite of stagnation. It is an opportunity for change, adaptation, and movement. In 2020, many companies had to completely rethink how they accomplished their business goals and were pushed to implement new strategies at an accelerated pace. Years of digital transformation were condensed into months. Companies developed new structures and flexible models — internal muscles that will continue serving them as they move forward. The pace at which digital transformation happens is only accelerating. With an increasingly digital economy, we’re seeing: No more barriers to entry. Obstacles to entering the digital economy are essentially gone. For example, a bank considering fintech disruption is no longer just competing with interregional banks. It’s now competing with every mobile-first challenger bank anywhere in the world. Competition is more high stakes than ever. A need to enable sustainable innovation. The most competitive businesses are maniacally focused on removing every obstacle so that their teams can be agile and move quickly in a scalable and sustainable way. An emphasis on data security. As more of the IT landscape moves into the cloud, and as organizations increasingly go global, data security and privacy need to be at the forefront. It’s critical that a company’s customers trust them to be the stewards of their data now and into the future. However, not everyone’s digital transformation is successful. Many companies can’t keep up with new competitors and sudden market shifts. Your competitive advantage Competitive advantage is now directly tied to how well companies are able to build software around their most important asset: data. Companies have been using commercial software since the early 1970s. What is different now is that their differentiation as a business is tied to the software they build internally. No one is expecting to win in their industry because they use an off-the-shelf CRM product, for example. That is to say: Competitive advantage cannot be bought, it must be built. This is not a new idea. Even the most basic software cannot work without proper storage, retrieval, and use of data. Otherwise, every application would have a beautiful front end but nothing functional behind them. The true art and skill of modern application development is to tap into data and wield it to create true innovation. Customer experience and expectations Almost 15 years into the smartphone and smart device era, consumer and B2B expectations for their digital interactions and experiences are extremely high and exceptionally demanding. Customers expect their digital experiences to: Be highly responsive: Digital experiences must be quick to react to events, actions, and consumer behavior. Deliver relevant information: Modern digital experiences present the most relevant information intelligently, sometimes even predicting what a consumer is searching for before they complete their thought. Embrace mobile first: Mobile is becoming the primary way customers interact with companies. They expect to be able to do everything they would’ve done on a desktop from their mobile devices. Uphold data privacy: Customers expect complete data privacy — and for companies to allow them to take control of their data when requested. Be powered by real-time analytics: Customers expect applications to be smart. In addition to all of the above, consumers expect apps to guide them, assure them, and delight them with rich experiences powered by analytics and delivered in real time. Continuously improve: Customer expectations demand improvements at a faster rate than ever before. Legacy infrastructure: A challenge in digital transformation Companies' ability to deliver on customer expectations is almost entirely reliant on their underlying data infrastructure — it’s the foundation of their entire tech stack. Modern digital experiences demand a modern data infrastructure that addresses how data is stored, processed, and used. Despite companies’ best efforts — and significant spending — it’s estimated that more than 70% of enterprises fail in their digital transformation initiatives . This alarming number can make it appear as though digital improvement is a gamble not worth taking, but this is most definitely not the case. The truth is that though the way companies leverage data to build modern applications has changed, the typical data infrastructure has not kept up with the demands, making working with data the hardest part of building and evolving applications. One key factor is that typical data infrastructures are still built around legacy relational databases. These outdated infrastructures mean: Rigidity. The rigidity of the rows and columns that define relational databases make experimenting and iterating on applications difficult. Anytime a data model or schema needs to be changed as an application evolves or incorporates new types of data, developers must consider dependencies at the data layer, and the brittle nature of relational databases makes such change difficult. Data structure clashes. Relational tabular data structures are at odds with how most developers think and code, which is through object-oriented programming languages. To put it simply, developers do not think in rows and columns, which clash with modern data and the objects developers work with. Automatic failover and horizontal scaling are not natively supported. The essentials that modern applications need, such as automatic failover and support for massive scale on demand, are not natively built into legacy relational databases; these become more obstacles to overcome. With a relational data infrastructure, it’s typical for an organization to have hundreds or thousands of tables built up over years. Having to update or unwind them as it is trying to build or iterate on its applications brings innovation to a crawl — or puts it on pause altogether. As an example, Travelers , a Fortune 500 U.S.-based insurance company, recently attempted to modernize an underwriting application. Their most profitable unit, business insurance, required much faster software delivery and response times. The company attempted to solve this with standard solutions, such as implementing agile development, breaking down monoliths with microservices, and rolling out continuous delivery. Despite their best efforts, however, legacy relational databases held them back. Travelers’ senior director of architecture at the time, Jeff Needham, in reference to their attempts at transformation, said, “At the end, it was still the legacy database. We implemented all these things, but we still had to wait days for a database change to be implemented.” Both Travelers’ failing result and eventual frustration are shared by many organizations that get ensnared in their own data infrastructures. What about NoSQL? For teams that need to deliver more modern application experiences or operate at faster speeds, it might appear that the most obvious path is to add NoSQL datastores as a bandage to address relational shortcomings. But doing so requires ETL (extract, transform, and load data from one source to another), adding more complexity to data management. These teams quickly realize that non-relational or NoSQL databases only excel at a few select objectives, with otherwise limited capabilities (including limited query capabilities and the lack of data consistency guarantees). The truth is that NoSQL databases can never really replace relational databases because they’re suitable only for niche use cases. In the end, it’s not just one database being added and requiring management but several — one for graph data and traversals, one for time series, one for key values, and so on. The ever-increasing need to address diversified data workloads means a new managed database for each type of data, creating even more silos. The bottom line is that adding NoSQL to cover what relational databases can’t makes the data environment even more complex than it was before. Beyond operational databases Today, an organization’s application data infrastructure is made up of more than just operational databases. To deliver rich search capabilities, companies often add separate search engine technologies to their environments, putting the onus on their teams to manage the movement of data between systems. To enable low-latency and offline-first application experiences on mobile devices, they often add separate local data storage technologies. Syncing data from devices to the backend becomes another spinning plate for developers to keep up with since it involves complexities such as networking code and conflict resolution. Finally, to create rich analytics-backed application experiences, more often than not organizations use ETL for their data, reformatting it along the way for an entirely separate analytics database. Every step of the way, more time, people, and money goes toward what is now a growing data infrastructure problem — an increasing sprawl of complexity — and eating away at development cycles that could otherwise be spent innovating their products. Spaghetti architecture is a tax on innovation As they try to solve data issues by adding new components, services, or technologies, many companies find themselves trapped in “spaghetti architecture,” meaning overly complex and siloed architectures piled on top of already heavy infrastructures. Each bit of technology has its quirks from operational, security, and performance standpoints, demanding expertise and attention — and making data integration difficult. Moving data between systems requires dedicated people, teams, and money. Massive resources go into dealing with the incredible amount of data duplication. But beyond just cost, development resources must go toward dealing with multiple operational and security models when data is distributed across so many different systems. This makes it incredibly difficult to innovate in a scalable, sustainable way. In fact, this is why many digital transformations fail: inadequate data infrastructures, burning through resources, and “solutions” creating more complexity. And all while, they are falling behind their competitors. We think of all of this as a recurring tax on innovation tied to an ever-growing data infrastructure problem that we call DIRT (data and innovation recurring tax). DIRT is recurring because it never goes away by itself. It’s a 2,000-pound boulder strapped to a team’s back today, tomorrow, and five years from now. It will continue to weigh down teams until they address it head on. Eliminate DIRT DIRT is a real problem, but there are equally real, and realistic, solutions. The most successful and advanced organizations avoid such complexities altogether by building data infrastructures focused on four key guidelines: Doubling developer productivity. Companies’ success depends on their developers’ ability to create industry-leading applications, so these businesses prioritize removing any obstacles to productivity, including rigid data structures, fragmented developer experiences, and backend maintenance. Prioritizing elegant, repeatable architectures. The companies that will win the race toward data integrity understand the cost of bespoke data infrastructures and technologies that only make their production environments more complex. These companies use niche technologies only when absolutely necessary. Intentionally addressing security and data privacy. Successful businesses don’t let data security and privacy become a separate and massive project. They’re able to satisfy sophisticated requirements without compromising simplicity or the developer experience. Leveraging the power of multi-cloud. These companies don’t compromise on deployment flexibility. They’re ahead of data gravity and can deploy a single application globally across multiple regions and multiple clouds without having to rewrite code or spend months in planning. How MongoDB helps MongoDB provides companies with an application data platform that allows them to move fast and simplify how they build with data for any application. This allows organizations to spend less effort rationalizing their data infrastructure and focus more on innovation and building out their unique differentiation, eliminating DIRT. The document model is flexible and maps to how developers think and code. The flexible document data model makes it easy to model and remodel data as application requirements change, increasing developer productivity by eliminating the headache of rows and columns. Instead, documents map exactly to the objects that developers work with in their code. This is the core insight that MongoDB’s founders had at least a decade ago: Data systems fundamentally need a different data model to be able to match modern development. This is also why MongoDB has become so popular with developers, with 75 million+ downloads. MongoDB documents are a superset of all other data models. The MongoDB document model upholds the superset of legacy functions, allowing users to store and work with data of various types and shapes. In contrast to niche databases, it covers the needs of relational data, objects, cache formats, and specialized data such as GIS data types or time series data. Document databases are not just one of many other databases to be used simultaneously. Advanced organizations realize that the document model underpins a broad spectrum of use cases. For example, the simplest documents serve as key-value pairs. Documents can be modeled as the nodes and edges of a graph. Documents are actually more intuitive for modeling relationships with support for embedding and nested structures. The ability to work with diverse varieties of data fits neatly within the document data model, giving MongoDB a concrete foundation to build from. MongoDB features a powerful, expressive, and unified interface. This provides for improved productivity because developers do not need to research, learn, and stay up-to-date on multiple ways to work with data across their different workloads. It’s also much more natural to use than SQL because the developer experience is one that feels like an extension of programming languages. The experience is idiomatic to each programming language and paradigm; developers can view MongoDB documents in their native format and work directly with the data without the need for abstraction layers such as object relational mappers (ORMs), data abstraction layers (DALs), and more — they can simply be removed or retired. Furthermore, multiple different teams working in different programming environments — from C# to Java to C++ — can access the same data at their leisure, allowing simplification and integration of data domains. MongoDB: The application data platform MongoDB is more than just a database. It is a multi-purpose, multi-faceted application data platform. This means that MongoDB recognizes data comes in a wide variety of formats, needs to be processed, stored, trained (and so on) in a broad variety of ways, and needs to be regulated, audited, encrypted, and secured in a similarly diverse set of ways. Data is one of the most valuable yet complex assets companies have. MongoDB simplifies many different use cases to wield this important asset in an intelligent, beautiful way by offering a unified interface to work with data generated by modern applications. MongoDB brings together two foundational concepts — the document model and a unified query API — in the form of an operational and transactional database. MongoDB’s application data platform offers: A transactional database: MongoDB has the transactional guarantees and data governance capabilities required to not just supplement but actually replace relational databases. Distributed multi-document transactions are fully ACID compliant, making it the transactional database behind core mission-critical applications. Search capabilities: Fully integrated full-text search eliminates the need for separate search engines. The MongoDB platform includes integrated search capabilities, including an extended query API, so developers are not forced to stand up a dedicated search engine to enable application search. All of the operations, including data movement, is handled natively within the MongoDB platform. Mobile readiness: MongoDB Realm’s flexible local datastore includes seamless edge-to-cloud sync for mobile and computing at the edge. MongoDB Realm enables agility for mobile developers through a natural development experience that syncs data from the backend to the front end with minimal code required. Things like conflict resolution, networking code, and plumbing are all handled automatically. Real-time analytics: MongoDB offers real-time analytics with workload isolation and native data visualization. As more organizations design smarter applications with MongoDB, they can call on real-time analytics tied to either machine learning or direct application experiences. Data lake: With MongoDB, developers can run federated queries across operational databases, transactional databases, and cloud object storage. Queries can also be extended across multiple clusters, or even to data sitting outside of MongoDB. MongoDB’s architecture is able to federate and aggregate data for analytical purposes as needed. A sustainable platform: In real-world applications, no capabilities matter if the platform is not secure, resilient, and scalable. Only sustainable frameworks can evolve with changes in the market and demand for the product. Scalability and compliance: Everything at MongoDB is built on a distributed systems architecture, with turnkey global data distribution for data sovereignty and fast access. This is not just for horizontal scaling and linear cost economics as workloads get larger, but it also helps organizations handle data distribution for their global applications, keeping relevant data close to the user but, for example, distributed across different geographic regions as needed to deliver a low-latency experience. MongoDB can also be used to isolate data by country to address data sovereignty regulations. Security: MongoDB holds industry-leading data privacy controls with client-side field level encryption, having built security into the core of the database, whether it's with encrypted storage, role-based access controls, or enterprise-grade auditing. In a world where there are often third-party providers involved, this gives more control to the end customer so they can definitively say that no third-party provider can access sensitive data, preventing full breaches of security. Multi-cloud: With MongoDB, developers have the flexibility to deploy across clouds in nearly 80 regions. Extending their databases across multiple clouds allows developers to leverage the innovative services that may be associated with another provider, build cross-cloud resiliency, and get additional reach without having to stand up separate databases in different regions. This, in turn, allows for a unified developer experience across data workloads, a simpler operational and security model, an automated and transparent data movement between services, and reduction of the dreaded data duplication. Interested in getting started with MongoDB Atlas for your digital transformation? Start for free here or contact us directly.

June 21, 2021

Built With MongoDB: Antler

Antler is a global early-stage venture capital firm that invests in the defining technology companies of tomorrow. The firm has offices in 13 cities worldwide, across six continents. Founded in Singapore in 2017, Antler is on a mission to fundamentally improve the world by enabling and investing in the world's most exceptional people. Since its launch, Antler has invested in and helped build over 250 companies. Antler enables exceptional people to build impactful technology startups by building complementary teams, supporting the teams with deep business model validation, and providing a global platform to scale their startups — and that’s why we’re thrilled to announce the firm’s partnership with MongoDB for Startups . We recently touched base with Antler Partner Björn Lindfors to talk about entrepreneurship, building and managing new companies, and partnering with MongoDB. Björn arrived at Antler after an incredible entrepreneurial journey of his own that included launching a web design studio to fix “crappy websites” during his university days, learning the ropes at Google, and serving as an executive of two companies in Singapore. Antler has raised $78 million and has offices in 13 locations across the world. MongoDB: How does Antler differentiate itself from other accelerator programs? Björn: We’re technically not an accelerator. We’re even earlier than that: we bring together between 70-100 top performers who may not even have an idea yet for phase 1 of the program, where they collaborate with other aspiring entrepreneurs to come up with an investment-worthy idea they can present to our Investment Committee. We’re very hands-on in our approach to venture building: We have a range of technical and business advisors who coach the entrepreneurs and follow their progress. For example, I’m still in weekly contact with many companies that we invested in during our 2018 sessions. We’re builders ourselves, and we want to keep adding value and serving as sounding boards for our community members. MongoDB: What do you recommend to your CTO founders when building out their companies? Björn: The first thing I encourage them to understand is that product isn’t everything. Building your product shouldn’t distract you from other things that are incredibly important for a successful business — for example, how to effectively run an engineering organization, how to hire good people, and how to make sure that your team members are constantly happy. The real struggle for me in transitioning into a CTO role at one of my former companies was the management aspect. I had completely underestimated the human elements and how much time and effort you need to spend to ensure that people are feeling happy and productive. I always tell people to focus more energy on that. MongoDB: Have you personally used MongoDB in your past companies? Björn: Yes, I have used MongoDB quite a bit, especially during my consulting years. If you’re building something quickly and don’t quite know where to start, MongoDB is the perfect partner. MongoDB is convenient and flexible enough to adjust as you transform your prototype into something more permanent. The first iteration of whatever you build is likely 80% wrong anyway, and you don’t want to be stuck with something clunky. For most consumer apps and business use cases with simple business logic, MongoDB works great. MongoDB: How has the Antler community responded to the MongoDB for Startups partnership announcement? Björn: When it was announced on our internal Slack group, which consists of thousands of people from our alumni and portfolio globally, there was a lot of excitement. MongoDB is part of the default stack that startups use to build businesses. I get questions from founders constantly about how to build, and I constantly advise them to use MongoDB. There’s no point in people teaching themselves something else for the purpose of building when MongoDB is the perfect default kit. We are excited to deepen the partnership over time. MongoDB: Why should aspiring founders work with Antler? Björn: If you’re driven, curious, and passionate about changing the world in some small, weird, and wonderful way, we are the right fit for you. We back founders working in all sectors and provide the right resources, mentorship, and community to help get their businesses off the ground. MongoDB: What do you think the future of Antler looks like? Björn: I think it could evolve in a few different ways. If you look at the entire investment landscape, at least here in Singapore and Southeast Asia, the seed investment sector has become very competitive. Seed investors are competing for deals and therefore have to provide strategic value along with funding to their portfolio companies in ways that they didn't have to before. Good entrepreneurs now have options, so the pressure is on investors to provide a lot of additional strategic value. Similarly, we’ll keep innovating on the services we can provide founders to help them be successful in this changing tech landscape. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here . Special thanks to Andrew Bell for his help in compiling this piece!

June 16, 2021

2021 Payment Trends Guide: What Corporate Clients Want From Their Bank

Payments data monetization is becoming the new battleground for financial services organizations and their corporate clients. Processing of payments data has evolved from a back-end operation to a critical space for innovation. Banks are determined to get more value out of payments data while corporate clients are willing to work with any partner that can help them do it. As one senior executive at a global bank commented: “(Data monetization) would have been very costly to do on a mainframe. The newer technologies like cloud allow you to do this in a much more efficient and effective way.” A recent survey of bank executives conducted by Celent, sponsored by MongoDB and Icon Solutions, revealed that payments data monetization is a high priority for key technology decision makers. Download the complete report here . What is payments data monetization? Payment data includes transaction records as well as data contained within messages. The monetization of payment data is relevant for a number of use cases, including: Using payments data to improve internal operations, identify clerical errors, and optimize procurement processes Improving straight-through-processing rate, which is the percentage of transactions that are passed through the system without manual intervention Incentivizing customers to make payments at different times to optimize the liquidity position of the bank Using payments data to enhance existing corporate-facing services Tracking payments and forecasting cash balances more accurately What's new in the payments industry? The time to invest in payments data monetization is now, according to a survey of hundreds of senior bank executives, corporate treasurers, and CFOs. Banks are eager to monetize their payments data, particularly as real-time payments accelerate and the push by the various regulators around the globe to adopt ISO 20022 intensifies. FedNow in the U.S. is the first true attempt to modernize the American payment landscape. At the same time, high demand for data-led services is prompting corporate clients to look beyond their existing banking partners to access new and alternative payment services. More than half of corporate clients surveyed relied on a partner other than their lead bank for cash forecasting (62%) and cash visibility (56%). The hope among banking professionals is that corporate clients would be willing to pay for service improvements and significant value-add services. But where banks see value-add features, clients see obligatory services their banking partners should offer by default. There are, however, opportunities for banks to justify additional fees, including: Using payment data to support new propositions and business models Driving value-added services through enriched third-party data sets Partnering with other organizations to launch new offerings Which services will corporate clients pay for? Corporate clients are seeking a wide range of payment services and are clear about the services they’re willing to pay for, including real-time cash balances and forecasting, better security and fraud protection, and data consolidated into a single dashboard. Services like virtual accounts, automated tracking, reconciliation of receivables, and better integration with corporate workflows are also considered high value but are seen as features that shouldn’t carry added fees, according to corporate clients. Their most sought-after services include: Consolidated real-time data from multiple banks in a single dashboard (38%) Real-time cash forecasting (37%) Better security and fraud protection (36%) Real-time cash balances (35%) Find out more about which services corporate clients are willing to pay for The push for ISO 20022 standardization The payments industry and corporate clients are in agreement about the need to adopt ISO 20022 message formats in its native JSON representation, which will allow richer data to be sent across the network and increase rates of automation without further adjustments to legacy data models in relational databases. According to the survey, banks plan to make significant investments in supporting ISO 20022 so they can offer improved services to corporate clients; 74% of banks see ISO 20022 migration as an investment opportunity in new data-led services. For their part, 32% of corporate clients want help managing ISO 20022 changes from their banking partners, and 31% said they would switch providers if it meant receiving help supporting ISO 20022 compliance. Cloud and agility Perhaps no sector of the market is more attached to monolithic legacy applications as the banking sector. But if banks wish to differentiate themselves through innovation, they’ll need to leverage modern data architectures to address customer needs with greater agility. Cloud technologies will be essential in the push to adopt modern database design because they offer the ability to create more flexible and responsive applications and microservices with on-demand scalability. According to the survey, banks have the opportunity to unlock long-term gains by combining data assets and integrating payments data into an enterprise-wide data strategy. As the survey points out, “Data monetization is a strategy, not a product.” Consolidated payment data and single-view dashboard The most sought-after payments service by finance executives — cited by 38% of corporate clients, 53% of which boast revenue of $500 million to $1 billion — is a single dashboard that provides a consolidated view of real-time data across all corporate bank partners. Although technology solutions for this service exist, implementation lags. Banks should embrace this critical need as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors. Find out how MongoDB brings data agility to payment workflows

June 15, 2021

Solving Customer Challenges: Meet Consulting Engineer Paul-Emile Brotons

Our Professional Services team is growing. Hear from Paul-Emile Brotons about his Consulting Engineer (CE) role, the types of projects he works on for customers, how he continually learns, and what makes this role a great opportunity for people with technical backgrounds who enjoy solving a variety of problems. Jackie Denner: Thanks for sharing your experience as a Consulting Engineer. Can you tell me about the Consulting Engineer team within Professional Services at MongoDB? Paul-Emile Brotons: I joined MongoDB a year and a half ago. The Consulting Engineering team is responsible for assisting customers at every stage of their MongoDB journey to ensure they are successful. We assist customers with training, database design, architecture design, code reviews, preproduction audits and reviews, setup, and health checks. I’m part of the South European team and I’m based out of Paris, but the Consulting Engineering team is worldwide. Since we are solving challenging problems, the team is very close and meets daily to share ideas and discuss solutions. I always have colleagues available to help at any time of day. JD: As a junior engineer, why did you opt for a Consulting Engineer role instead of a traditional Product Engineer role? PEB: Before joining MongoDB, I was a full-stack engineer at a French startup specializing in revenue management. I learned great technical skills there, but, in the end, I felt I was missing the big picture: What other stacks exist on the market? What tools are other engineering teams at big companies or startups working with? That is exactly what the Consulting Engineer role made possible for me. Since our projects are usually short-term, a typical CE may see 50 projects in a year. In my current role, I have been working with almost every new and exciting technology. I also get to learn how people within product and engineering work in other organizations. I find this very valuable, and it’s not something you can easily find in a traditional Product Engineer role. JD: What does a day in your role look like? PEB: CEs are assigned to “missions,” which typically range from one to four days and concern a specific customer. Longer-term projects can span several months. My role generally starts the week before. Before each mission, I try to set up a short preconsult session where I meet with customers and discover the topics they want to discuss. Then, on the day of the mission, I provide training, performance evaluation, tuning, and more. I learn a lot in my role, and I try to find solutions to all the difficult problems the customer has not been able to solve alone. It’s challenging and very rewarding. In some cases, I may not be assigned to a customer and I will be working on preparation and continuous learning. I appreciate the liberty my role gives me. JD: What was your onboarding like, and what learning and growth opportunities are there on the Consulting Engineer team? PEB: To be completely honest, I was a bit scared when I joined. I was very impressed with the way people work here, and I had a feeling it would be hard for me to onboard. However, the ramp-up process is so well-done that it almost felt easy. The first weeks were dedicated only to training. First, we have to learn a lot about MongoDB. A CE is a database expert. Since almost every software needs a persistent layer, this expertise is very valuable. Second, we have to know our stuff when it comes to Linux, networking, cloud providers, architecture, coding, and more. Afterward, everything is done to gradually increase the level of difficulty; complex missions are not delivered by new hires. Management is really careful about that, which is reassuring. Once a CE is performing well in their role, they may be promoted to Senior and then Principal grades. Many of us also study to pass certifications. I will soon start studying for a Linux sysadmin certification. The management team is very supportive and encourages continuous learning. JD: How do you interact with other teams at MongoDB? PEB: The CE role requires a lot of interaction with teams such as Sales, Presales Engineering, and Product Engineering. Consulting Engineers can be leveraged to help Sales and Solution Architects before the sale happens, since we are seen as trusted advisers. We also often speak to product teams to discuss the inner workings of a product, feature, or system. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people within MongoDB. JD: What is one of the most interesting or challenging projects you’ve worked on? PEB: It is honestly difficult to choose, but I would pick a long project I worked on with a major container transportation and shipping company. It was challenging given the scope of the project and the number of interactions and subjects I had to deal with. The project was key for the customer, and it was technically demanding. We had to review the whole application architecture; analyze the front end to infer the requests and schema design needed on the database side; work with a wide range of professionals, including developers, solution architects, Linux engineers, and project managers; and test that everything would happen as expected. It was a great learning experience, from both a personal and professional perspective. JD: What makes someone successful in a CE role? PEB: Aside from sufficient knowledge of computer science, the CE role requires good communication and problem-solving skills. You have to know how to listen to and understand the problems customers encounter before you can think of a solution. Good customer contact is often the key to a mission’s success, and it makes the difference between a satisfied customer and a happy customer. JD: What advice would you offer someone looking to move into Professional Services at MongoDB? PEB: First, prepare well for the interviews — study up on algorithms, two programming languages, and basic database and hardware concepts. The interviews can be challenging, and there are a lot of rounds. Second, I would advise candidates to look at the beginners course on the MongoDB University website. The courses are free and they’re the best I have done on the web so far. Going deeper into learning MongoDB before joining the company saved me a lot of time. Last but not least, I would encourage candidates to contact CEs at MongoDB to get a clear view of the company and the role. My colleagues and I are more than happy to answer any questions that might help someone decide if this role is the right fit for them. Interested in a Professional Services career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our team and would love for you to transform your career with us!

June 10, 2021

Built With MongoDB: Vectorly

When Sam Bhattacharyya spent time in the Peace Corps as a teacher in Mexico, he learned how much of a barrier the lack of internet bandwidth was for his classes. The students simply did not have the resources needed to take advantage of online learning, which was a problem Sam soon became fixated on. Years later, Sam founded his company Vectorly with a goal to fix that bandwidth issue via an AI-based video compression solution that streams low-resolution videos and turns them into a high-definition viewing experience. Vectorly is a software development kit (SDK) that companies can integrate into their video applications. Vectorly released its minimal viable product (MVP) for use by early customers in February 2021 and has a total of 20 companies that are actively using the product. In this edition of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we talked with Sam about how Vectorly’s software works, how he got started with MongoDB for Startups, and the future of this fast-growing industry. MongoDB: What's Vectoryl's mission? Sam: We’re building a technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to upscale and enhance video in real time on users’ devices, as they watch it. So, what that lets a user do is stream low-resolution video content and watch it in high definition. We have about 100 AI models on our server. Most of them are for AI upscaling, for different kinds of content and different quality levels. Based on feedback from customers, we've also been building AI filters for, say, virtual background replacement. All that data is loaded in real time from the server every time you load the library. With our SDK, you specify that you want to use this AI filter on that library, and you have an API token that calls our API and that returns the AI model in real time to your device so you can watch the upscaled video. AI takes some computing power, which can be a concern especially on low-end devices, and we’re conscious of that, so we pay close attention to performance and frame rate to make sure our AI models do not overload the devices users are working on. MongoDB: What are some of the use cases for Victory? Sam: The first is to think of a user that is watching Netflix with a slow internet connection. Because the network is so slow, that user’s going to end up with a low-resolution version of the video. But we have AI filters that can pop in and start to upscale and enhance the video and make it look as if it’s high definition. The other use case is around video conferencing, where all kinds of things can affect call quality or user experience, from background noise to blurry video. You can use AI to correct any of those issues that come up. MongoDB: What does your tech stack consist of? Sam: Our product is a software library, which is for the web, and it’s all built in JavaScript. The main JavaScript functionality we’re using is called WebGL, which is a graphics pipeline that lets you access the GPU on devices. We have a bunch of AI models on our server, which are just numbers stored in JSON files. Our SDKs load the AI models in real time, and we use MongoDB to track and store event data, as well as basic metadata. MongoDB: How did you choose MongoDB? Sam: I've been using MongoDB since I started programming in 2012. Although the first programming course I took used the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), SQL seemed unintuitive, and the LAMP stack in general just felt bulky. When I started my first personal programming project, I looked for alternatives, and I found this new thing called the MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js). I thought it was the greatest thing in the world that you could use JavaScript in the front end and the back end, and that you could even use JSON like notation for the database. Having a full JavaScript stack made so much sense. Every web development project I've started since has used the MEAN stack. When it came time to hack together the first version of Vectorly, MongoDB was our first choice for the database. MongoDB: How has the experience been working with MongoDB? Sam: It’s been fantastic. We had to come up with this model of tracking users and usage of our platform in a very short amount of time, because the first version we released had no tracking whatsoever. One of the things that saved us a lot of time was the MongoDB Charts function, because it really allows us to track what we’re doing. It was super quick to set up. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.

June 9, 2021

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