Announcing Azure Private Link Integration for MongoDB Atlas
October 15, 2020
We’re excited to announce the general availability of Azure Private Link as a new network access management option in MongoDB Atlas.
MongoDB Atlas is built to be secure by default. All dedicated Azure clusters on Atlas are deployed in their own VNET. For network security controls, you already have the options of an IP Access List and VNET Peering.
- The IP Access List in Atlas offers a straightforward and secure connection mechanism, and all traffic is encrypted with end-to-end TLS. But it requires that you provide static public IPs for your application servers to connect to Atlas, and to list all such IPs in the Access List. And if your applications don’t have static public IPs or if you have strict requirements on outbound database access via public IPs, this won’t work for you.
- The existing solution to this is VNET Peering, with which you configure a secure peering connection between your Atlas cluster’s VNET and your own VNET(s). This is easy, but the connections are two way. While Atlas never has to initiate connections to your environment, some customers perceive VNET peering as extending the perceived network trust boundary anyway. Although Access Control Lists (ACLs) and security groups can control this access, they require additional configuration.
MongoDB Atlas and Azure Private Link
Now, you can use Azure Private Link to connect a VNET to MongoDB Atlas. This brings two major advantages:
- Unidirectional: connections via Private Link use a private IP within the customer’s VNET, and are unidirectional such that the Atlas VNET cannot initiate connections back to the customer's VNET. Hence, there is no extension of the network trust boundary.
- Transitive: connections to the Private Link private IPs within the customer’s VNET can come transitively from another VNET peered to the Private Link-enabled VNET, or from an on-prem data center connected with ExpressRoute to the Private Link-enabled VNET. This means that customers can connect directly from their on-prem data centers to Atlas without using public IP Access Lists.
Meeting Security Requirements with Atlas on Azure
Azure Private Link adds to the security capabilities that are already available in MongoDB Atlas, like Client Side Field-Level Encryption, database auditing, BYO key encryption with Azure Key Vault integration, federated identity, and more. MongoDB Atlas undergoes independent verification of security and compliance controls, so you can be confident in using Atlas on Azure for your most critical workloads.
Ready to try it out? Get started with MongoDB Atlas today!
Meet Alejandro Torrealba: How My Willingness to Learn and Embrace Different Cultures Has Grown My Career
In honor of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, I sat down with Alejandro Torrealba to learn more about his career at MongoDB, how moving around the world has allowed him to embrace his passion for other cultures, and how he honors his Venezuelan roots. Alejandro is a Technical Program Manager at MongoDB. Take a look at his story. Ashley Perez: It sounds as if you’ve had an exciting start to your career, especially in terms of all the places you’ve lived. Can you tell me a bit more about that? Alejandro Torrealba: I always like to learn new things, relate to new and different people, and apply logical and mathematical thinking to solve problems. As I finished my computer engineering degree, I had a technical internship supporting Microsoft Venezuela’s marketing department. After working a few years, I decided I wanted to interact with different cultures and professional spaces, so I went to England to get my master’s in computer science and worked at a London startup, first as head of development and later as a product manager. After five years in London, I left the startup to work as a product owner at a much bigger European corporation in Edinburgh. Eventually, I was promoted to the role of an agile program manager there. In 2018, I moved to New York for personal reasons. When considering job opportunities, I wanted to work for a growing, innovative organization with modern products that had a diverse and inclusive team, high working standards, and strong branding. With those criteria, I applied to MongoDB and officially joined the team in May 2019 as a technical program manager. AP: As a travel lover myself, I’m a little envious of all the amazing places you’ve lived. Very cool! And it sounds as if MongoDB benefited from your move to New York. Can you tell me about your role? AT: On the Technical Program Management team, we focus on managing and supporting the processes to ensure lean and timely software delivery. That requires a technical understanding of what we want to build, knowledge of the “team’s personality,” cross-team communication, planning, and follow-ups. Each technical program manager works with a defined number of teams, managing cross-team initiatives and performing process improvement and automation projects. Outside of the projects we manage, we usually have regular program manager team meetings to coordinate, share ideas, support each other, and generally catch up. AP: Before COVID-19, you worked in our New York headquarters. What was that like? AT: New York City is one of the greatest cities and cultural centers in the world. The diversity there brings people together from all continents, religions, gender preferences, and professions, providing infinite choices for different relationships, work opportunities, technologies, entertainment, arts, dance, food, and social events. MongoDB’s NYC office reflects this variety too . There is significant diversity of personal and professional backgrounds, and every person is well-acknowledged and respected. As there is space for everyone in NYC, there is space for excellent employees at MongoDB. You just have to make sure you do a great job! AP: Speaking of diversity, let’s talk about Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. What does it mean to you? AT: It is a time to commemorate and celebrate the Latino American people's continuous contributions in building the United States’ modern society. For me, that celebration is a welcoming message to all the Latino American people willing to work and continue contributing. There is so much of the Latino American culture found in NYC, including food, music, dance, sports, people, arts, and more. Even during the pandemic, there are plenty of options for experiencing the culture. I am sure there are great taco and arepa places that can deliver you a taste of that, and good online events for you to see salsa dancing! MongoDB is a place where you can be and express who you are. One of our core values literally embraces the “power of differences,” and this has shaped our company culture. That is something many of us may take for granted, but in reality, the MongoDB culture has been designed to be inclusive, and we invest to make it better in that way. This is why we’re able to celebrate things like Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. And we will continue to celebrate other aspects of the diversity we have here as well. AP: Is there anything you’d like to share about your culture that’s a huge part of who you are? AT: Kindness, sharing, and being family-oriented were always big parts of the Venezuelan culture, as I know it has been part of Latino American culture in general. As Venezuelans, my family always emphasized these values, as well as learning, working, and having some fun and celebration to connect with family and friends. I like to keep these values no matter where I live. My culture has also taught me to be kind to others, conserve the books I read so that others can read them later, and not to ever waste food. AP: How do you keep your culture alive as you move around? AT: I have great friends from Venezuela who live in New York, and we see each other frequently. Apart from that, I enjoy specific Latin food places and never get tired of inviting friends and coworkers to share that food with me. I also try to enjoy other cultures, especially by spending time with friends I’ve made in the United Nations systems and other international organizations. After living and working in a few places, I truly believe that most people are naturally willing to relate to others in a safe way, so it’s been interesting to share our cultures with one another. AP: That’s a great way to look at it. Backtracking a bit, I’d love to learn more about why you chose MongoDB and what makes you stay. AT: Once I arrived in New York, I was looking for a growing technology company that was a leader in its industry and financially stable, with an excellent reputation as an employer. I found all of that in MongoDB. I have worked with teams from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, India, and different places from the United States during my career. From that experience, I can affirm our standard for professionalism and excellence here is very high, generating the best products quickly. I believe it represents an attractive challenge for anyone in the technology industry. I can say all the great reviews I read on Glassdoor while applying to MongoDB are totally true. AP: Any parting thoughts for why someone would want to join your team? AT: At MongoDB, you’ll have the freedom to do your job in the best way possible while responding to high, transparent, and fair expectations. We discuss, agree, do our work, check results, look for improvement, and support each other as needed. It’s a great environment to grow your career and genuinely an amazing place to work. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us! Join MongoDB in supporting organizations fighting for racial justice and equal opportunity. Donate to our fund by December 31, 2020 and MongoDB will match the donation up to a maximum aggregate amount of $250,000. Learn more here .
Dissecting Open Banking with MongoDB: Technical Challenges and Solutions
Thank you to Ainhoa Múgica for her contributions to this post. Unleashing a disruptive wave in the banking industry, open banking (or open finance), as the term indicates, has compelled financial institutions (banks, insurers, fintechs, corporates, and even government bodies) to embrace a new era of transparency, collaboration, and innovation. This paradigm shift requires banks to openly share customer data with third-party providers (TPPs), driving enhanced customer experiences and fostering the development of innovative fintech solutions by combining ‘best-of-breed’ products and services. As of 2020, 24.7 million individuals worldwide used open banking services, a number that is forecast to reach 132.2 million by 2024. This rising trend fuels competition, spurs innovation, and fosters partnerships between traditional banks and agile fintech companies. In this transformative landscape, MongoDB, a leading developer data platform, plays a vital role in supporting open banking by providing a secure, scalable, and flexible infrastructure for managing and protecting shared customer data. By harnessing the power of MongoDB's technology, financial institutions can lower costs, improve customer experiences, and mitigate the potential risks associated with the widespread sharing of customer data through strict regulatory compliance. Figure 1: An Example Open Banking Architecture The essence of open banking/finance is about leveraging common data exchange protocols to share financial data and services with 3rd parties. In this blog, we will dive into the technical challenges and solutions of open banking from a data and data services perspective and explore how MongoDB empowers financial institutions to overcome these obstacles and unlock the full potential of this open ecosystem. Dynamic environments and standards As open banking standards continue to evolve, financial institutions must remain adaptable to meet changing regulations and industry demands. Traditional relational databases often struggle to keep pace with the dynamic requirements of open banking due to their rigid schemas that are difficult to change and manage over time. In countries without standardized open banking frameworks, banks and third-party providers face the challenge of developing multiple versions of APIs to integrate with different institutions, creating complexity and hindering interoperability. Fortunately, open banking standards or guidelines (eg. Europe, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, etc) have generally required or recommended that the open APIs be RESTful and support JSON data format, which creates a basis for common data exchange. MongoDB addresses these challenges by offering a flexible developer data platform that natively supports JSON data format, simplifies data modeling, and enables flexible schema changes for developers. With features like the MongoDB Data API and GraphQL API , developers can reduce development and maintenance efforts by easily exposing data in a low-code manner. The Stable API feature ensures compatibility during database upgrades, preventing code breaks and providing a seamless transition. Additionally, MongoDB provides productivity-boosting features like full-text search , data visualization , data federation , mobile database synchronization , and other app services enabling developers to accelerate time-to-market. With MongoDB's capabilities, financial institutions and third-party providers can navigate the changing open banking landscape more effectively, foster collaboration, and deliver innovative solutions to customers. An example of a client who leverages MongoDB’s native JSON data management and flexibility is Natwest. Natwest is a major retail and commercial bank in the United Kingdom based in London, England. The bank has moved from zero to 900 million API calls per month within years, as open banking uptake grows and is expected to grow 10 times in coming years. At a MongoDB event on 15 Nov 2022, Jonathan Haggarty, Natwest’s Head of “Bank of APIs” Technology – an API ecosystem that brings the retail bank’s services to partners – shared in his presentation titled Driving Customer Value using API Data that Natwest’s growing API ecosystem lets it “push a bunch of JSON data into MongoDB [which makes it] “easy to go from simple to quite complex information" and also makes it easier to obfuscate user details through data masking for customer privacy. Natwest is enabled to surface customer data insights for partners via its API ecosystem, for example “where customers are on the e-commerce spectrum”, the “best time [for retailers] to push discounts” as well insights on “most valuable customers” – with data being used for problem-solving; analytics and insight; and reporting. Performance In the dynamic landscape of open banking, meeting the unpredictable demands for performance, scalability, and availability is crucial. The efficiency of applications and the overall customer experience heavily rely on the responsiveness of APIs. However, building an open banking platform becomes intricate when accommodating third-party providers with undisclosed business and technical requirements. Without careful management, this can lead to unforeseen performance issues and increased costs. Open banking demands high performance of the APIs under all kinds of workload volumes. OBIE recommends an average TTLB (time to last byte) of 750 ms per endpoint response for all payment invitations (except file payments) and account information APIs. Compliance with regulatory service level agreements (SLAs) in certain jurisdictions further adds to the complexity. Legacy architectures and databases often struggle to meet these demanding criteria, necessitating extensive changes to ensure scalability and optimal performance. That's where MongoDB comes into play. MongoDB is purpose-built to deliver exceptional performance with its WiredTiger storage engine and its compression capabilities. Additionally, MongoDB Atlas improves the performance following its intelligent index and schema suggestions, automatic data tiering, and workload isolation for analytics. One prime illustration of its capabilities is demonstrated by Temenos, a renowned financial services application provider, achieving remarkable transaction volume processing performance and efficiency by leveraging MongoDB Atlas. They recently ran a benchmark with MongoDB Atlas and Microsoft Azure and successfully processed an astounding 200 million embedded finance loans and 100 million retail accounts at a record-breaking 150,000 transactions per second . This showcases the power and scalability of MongoDB with unparalleled performance to empower financial institutions to effectively tackle the challenges posed by open banking. MongoDB ensures outstanding performance, scalability, and availability to meet the ever-evolving demands of the industry. Scalability Building a platform to serve TPPs, who may not disclose their business usages and technical/performance requirements, can introduce unpredictable performance and cost issues if not managed carefully. For instance, a bank in Singapore faced an issue where their Open APIs experienced peak loads and crashes every Wednesday. After investigation, they discovered that one of the TPPs ran a promotional campaign every Wednesday, resulting in a surge of API calls that overwhelmed the bank's infrastructure. A scalable solution that can perform under unpredictable workloads is critical, besides meeting the performance requirements of a certain known volume of transactions. MongoDB's flexible architecture and scalability features address these concerns effectively. With its distributed document-based data model, MongoDB allows for seamless scaling both vertically and horizontally. By leveraging sharding , data can be distributed across multiple nodes, ensuring efficient resource utilization and enabling the system to handle high transaction volumes without compromising performance. MongoDB's auto-sharding capability enables dynamic scaling as the workload grows, providing financial institutions with the flexibility to adapt to changing demands and ensuring a smooth and scalable open banking infrastructure. Availability In the realm of open banking, availability becomes a critical challenge. With increased reliance on banking services by third-party providers (TPPs), ensuring consistent availability becomes more complex. Previously, banks could bring down certain services during off-peak hours for maintenance. However, with TPPs offering 24x7 experiences, any downtime is unacceptable. This places greater pressure on banks to maintain constant availability for Open API services, even during planned maintenance windows or unforeseen events. MongoDB Atlas, the fully managed global cloud database service, addresses these availability challenges effectively. With its multi-node cluster and multi-cloud DBaaS capabilities, MongoDB Atlas ensures high availability and fault tolerance. It offers the flexibility to run on multiple leading cloud providers, allowing banks to minimize concentration risk and achieve higher availability through a distributed cluster across different cloud platforms. The robust replication and failover mechanisms provided by MongoDB Atlas guarantee uninterrupted service and enable financial institutions to provide reliable and always-available open banking APIs to their customers and TPPs. Security and privacy Data security and consent management are paramount concerns for banks participating in open banking. The exposure of authentication and authorization mechanisms to third-party providers raises security concerns and introduces technical complexities regarding data protection. Banks require fine-grained access control and encryption mechanisms to safeguard shared data, including managing data-sharing consent at a granular level. Furthermore, banks must navigate the landscape of data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which impose strict requirements distinct from traditional banking regulations. MongoDB offers a range of solutions to address these security and privacy challenges effectively. Queryable Encryption provides a mechanism for managing encrypted data within MongoDB, ensuring sensitive information remains secure even when shared with third-party providers. MongoDB's comprehensive encryption features cover data-at-rest and data-in-transit, protecting data throughout its lifecycle. MongoDB's flexible schema allows financial institutions to capture diverse data requirements for managing data sharing consent and unify user consent from different countries into a single data store, simplifying compliance with complex data privacy laws. Additionally, MongoDB's geo-sharding capabilities enable compliance with data residency laws by ensuring relevant data and consent information remain in the closest cloud data center while providing optimal response times for accessing data. To enhance data privacy further, MongoDB offers field-level encryption techniques, enabling symmetric encryption at the field level to protect sensitive data (e.g., personally identifiable information) even when shared with TPPs. The random encryption of fields adds an additional layer of security and enables query operations on the encrypted data. MongoDB's Queryable Encryption technique further strengthens security and defends against cryptanalysis, ensuring that customer data remains protected and confidential within the open banking ecosystem. Activity monitoring With numerous APIs offered by banks in the open banking ecosystem, activity monitoring and troubleshooting become critical aspects of maintaining a robust and secure infrastructure. MongoDB simplifies activity monitoring through its monitoring tools and auditing capabilities. Administrators and users can track system activity at a granular level, monitoring database system and application events. MongoDB Atlas has Administration APIs , which one can use to programmatically manage the Atlas service. For example, one can use the Atlas Administration API to create database deployments, add users to those deployments, monitor those deployments, and more. These APIs can help with the automation of CI/CD pipelines as well as monitoring the activities on the data platform enabling developers and administrators to be freed of this mundane effort and focus on generating more business value. Performance monitoring tools, including the performance advisor, help gauge and optimize system performance, ensuring that APIs deliver exceptional user experiences. Figure 2: Activity Monitoring on MongoDB Atlas MongoDB Atlas Charts , an integrated feature of MongoDB Atlas, offers analytics and visualization capabilities. Financial institutions can create business intelligence dashboards using MongoDB Atlas Charts. This eliminates the need for expensive licensing associated with traditional business intelligence tools, making it cost-effective as more TPPs utilize the APIs. With MongoDB Atlas Charts, financial institutions can offer comprehensive business telemetry data to TPPs, such as the number of insurance quotations, policy transactions, API call volumes, and performance metrics. These insights empower financial institutions to make data-driven decisions, improve operational efficiency, and optimize the customer experience in the open banking ecosystem. Figure 3: Atlas Charts Sample Dashboard Real-Timeliness Open banking introduces new challenges for financial institutions as they strive to serve and scale amidst unpredictable workloads from TPPs. While static content poses fewer difficulties, APIs requiring real-time updates or continuous streaming, such as dynamic account balances or ESG-adjusted credit scores, demand capabilities for near-real-time data delivery. To enable applications to immediately react to real-time changes or changes as they occur, organizations can leverage MongoDB Change Streams that are based on its aggregation framework to react to data changes in a single collection, a database, or even an entire deployment. This capability further enhances MongoDB’s real-time data and event processing and analytics capabilities. MongoDB offers multiple mechanisms to support data streaming, including a Kafka connector for event-driven architecture and a Spark connector for streaming with Spark. These solutions empower financial institutions to meet the real-time data needs of their open banking partners effectively, enabling seamless integration and real-time data delivery for enhanced customer experiences. Conclusion MongoDB's technical capabilities position it as a key enabler for financial institutions embarking on their open banking journey. From managing dynamic environments and accommodating unpredictable workloads to ensuring scalability, availability, security, and privacy, MongoDB provides a comprehensive set of tools and features to address the challenges of open banking effectively. With MongoDB as the underlying infrastructure, financial institutions can navigate the ever-evolving open banking landscape with confidence, delivering innovative solutions, and driving the future of banking. Embracing MongoDB empowers financial institutions to unlock the full potential of open banking and provide exceptional customer experiences in this era of collaboration and digital transformation. If you would like to learn more about how you can leverage MongoDB for your open banking infrastructure, take a look at the below resources: Open banking panel discussion: future-proof your bank in a world of changing data and API standards with MongoDB, Celent, Icon Solutions, and AWS How a data mesh facilitates open banking Financial services hub