Last June we introduced MongoDB Atlas, the database as a service for MongoDB. Atlas is designed in accordance with all of the best practices for managing MongoDB, so using it is like getting a professional MongoDB Ops team on your side. It is the easiest and most cost effective way to run MongoDB in the cloud, and it is already helping thousands of teams -- from innovative startups like Bond to established industry leaders like eHarmony and Thermo Fisher -- to build apps more efficiently by making database management as easy as possible.
We’re incredibly excited by the success our customers have had with Atlas so far, and today I’d like to share some updates to the service that will make it even easier to get started with Atlas.
Making Atlas data migrations simple with MongoMirror
It’s a cinch to spin up a MongoDB cluster with Atlas, but if you’re already running an application, you still have to migrate data, which until now has been a manual process. Today we’re introducing a new utility called MongoMirror that automates that process. MongoMirror will live migrate data to MongoDB Atlas from any pre-existing MongoDB 3.0+ replica set, making it even easier to get your existing applications migrated to Atlas.
Get MongoDB in the cloud for free with the new M0 tier
We’re also making it easier than ever to experiment with a real cloud environment for MongoDB. The new “M0” cluster type is a free cluster, ideal for learning MongoDB or building a prototype. Like our existing cluster types, the M0 tier has optimal security, availability, and managed upgrades by default.
More to come
The M0 tier and MongoMirror remove even more barriers between developers and execution of their ideas. Now you can get started with MongoDB Atlas for free, migrate without downtime, and scale up as you need, completely seamlessly. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing MongoDB Atlas to the Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure, and we’re actively working on even more tools to seamlessly migrate existing workloads to MongoDB Atlas, so stay tuned.
About the Author - Eliot Horowitz
Eliot Horowitz is CTO and Co-Founder of MongoDB. Eliot is one of the core MongoDB kernel committers. Previously, he was Co-Founder and CTO of ShopWiki. Eliot developed the crawling and data extraction algorithm that is the core of its innovative technology. He has quickly become one of Silicon Alley's up and coming entrepreneurs and was selected as one of BusinessWeek's Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under Age 25 nationwide in 2006. Earlier, Eliot was a software developer in the R&D group at DoubleClick (acquired by Google for $3.1 billion). Eliot received a BS in Computer Science from Brown University.
Leaf in the Wild: World’s Most Installed Learning Record Store Migrates to MongoDB Atlas to Scale Data 5x, while Reducing Costs
Learning Locker moves away from ObjectRocket to scale its learning data warehouse, used by the likes of Xerox, Raytheon and U.K. Universities. From Amazon’s recommendations to the Facebook News Feed, personalization has become ingrained in consumer experience, so it should come as no surprise that resourceful educators are now trying improve learning outcomes with that same concept. After all, no two students are identical in much the same way that no two consumers are exactly alike. Developing a truly personalized educational experience is no easy feat, but emerging standards like the xAPI are helping to make this lofty goal a reality. xAPI is an emerging specification that enables communication between disparate learning systems in a way that standardizes learning data. That data could include things like a student’s attendance in classes, or participation in online tools, but can also stretch to performance measures in the real-world, how students apply their learning. This data-led approach to Learning Analytics is helping educators improve learning practices, tailor teaching and take early intervention if it looks like a student is moving in the wrong direction. But the implications of this go far beyond the classroom, and increasingly companies are using these same techniques to support their employees development and to measure the impact of training on performance outcomes. Whilst educators are predicting the chances of a particular student dropping out, businesses can use these same tools to forecast organizational risk, based on compliance training and performance data, for example. We recently spoke with James Mullaney, Lead Developer at HT2 Labs a company that is at the forefront of the learning-data movement. HT2 Labs’ flagship product, Learning Locker , is an open source data warehouse used by the likes of the Xerox, Raytheon and a wide-range of universities to prove the impact of training and to make more informed decisions on future learning design. To continue to scale the project, better manage their operations and reduce costs, Learning Locker migrated from ObjectRocket to database as a service MongoDB Atlas . Tell us about HT2 Labs and Learning Locker. HT2 Labs is the creator of Learning Locker, which is a data warehouse for learning activity data (commonly referred to as a Learning Record Store or LRS). We have a suite of other learning products that are all integrated; Learning Locker acts as the hub that binds everything together. Our LRS uses the xAPI, which is a specification developed in part by the U.S. Department of Defense to help track military training initiatives. It allows multiple learning technology providers to send data into a single data store in a common format We started playing around with xAPI around four years ago as we were curious about the technology and had our own Social Learning Management System (LMS), Curatr. Today, Learning Locker receives learning events via an API, analyzes the data stored, and is instrumental in creating reports for our end customers. Who is using Learning Locker? The software is open source so our users range from hobbyists to enterprise companies, like Xerox, who use our LRS to track internal employee training. Another example is Jisc , the R&D organization that advances technologies in UK Higher & Further Education.. Jisc are running one of the largest national-level initiatives to implement Learning Analytics across universities in the UK and our LRS is used to ingest data and act as a single source of data for predictive models. This increased level of insight into individual behavior allows Jisc to do some interesting things, such as predict and preempt student dropouts. How has Learning Locker evolved? We’re currently on version two of Learning Locker. We’ve open sourced the product and we’ve also launched it as a hosted Software as a service (SaaS) product. Today we have clients using our LRS in on-premise installations and in the cloud. Each on-prem installation comes packaged with MongoDB. The SaaS version of Learning Locker typically runs in AWS supported by MongoDB Atlas , the managed MongoDB as a Service. Tell us about your decision to go with MongoDB for the underlying database. MongoDB was a very natural choice for us as the xAPI specification calls for student activities to be sent as JSON. These documents are immutable. For example, you might send a document that says, “James completed course XYZ.” You can’t edit that document to say that he didn’t complete it. You would have to send another document to indicate a change. This means that scale is very important as there is a constant stream of student activity that needs to be ingested and stored. We’ve been very happy with how MongoDB, with its horizontal scale-out architecture, is handling increased data volume; to be frank, MongoDB can handle more than our application can throw at it. In fact, our use of MongoDB is actually award-winning: Last year we picked up the MongoDB Innovation Award for best open source project. Beyond using the database for ingesting and storing data in Learning Locker, how else are you using MongoDB? As mentioned earlier, our LRS runs analytics on the data stored and those analytics are then using in reporting for our end users. For running those queries, we use MongoDB’s aggregation framework and the associated aggregation APIs. This allows our end users to get quick reports on information they’re interested in, such as course completion rates, score distribution, etc. Our indexes are also rather large compared to the data. We index on a lot of different fields using MongoDB’s secondary indexes. This is absolutely necessary for real-time analytics, especially when the end user wants to ask many different questions. We work closely with our clients to figure out the indexes that make the most sense based on the queries they want to run against the data. Tell us about your decision to run MongoDB in the cloud. Did you start with MongoDB Atlas or were you using a third party vendor? Our decision to use a MongoDB as a service provider was pretty simple — we wanted someone else to manage the database for us. Initially we were using ObjectRocket and that made sense for us at the time because we were hosting our application servers on Rackspace. Interesting. Can you describe your early experiences with MongoDB Atlas and the migration process? We witnessed the launch of MongoDB Atlas last year at MongoDB World 2016 and spun up our first cluster with Atlas in October. It became pretty clear early on that it would work for what we needed. First we migrated our Jisc deployment and our hosted SaaS product to MongoDB Atlas and we also moved our application servers to AWS for lower latency. The migration was completed in December with no issues. Why did you migrate to MongoDB Atlas from ObjectRocket? Cost was a major driving force for our migration from ObjectRocket. We’ve been growing and are now storing five times as much data in MongoDB Atlas at about the same costs. ObjectRocket was also pretty opaque about what was happening in the background and that’s not the case with MongoDB Atlas, which gives you greater visibility and control. I can see, for example, exactly how much RAM I’m using at any point in time. And finally, nobody is going to tell you that security isn’t important, especially in an industry where we’re responsible for handling potentially-sensitive student data. We were very happy with the native security features in MongoDB Atlas and the fact that we aren’t charged a percentage uplift for encryption, which was not the case with ObjectRocket. Do you have any plans to integrate MongoDB with any other technologies to build more functionality for Learning Locker? We’re looking into Hadoop, Spark, and Tableau for a few of our clients. MongoDB’s native connectors for Hadoop, Spark, and BI platforms come in handy for those projects. Any advice for people looking into MongoDB and MongoDB Atlas? Plan for scale. Think about what you’re doing right now and ask yourself, “Will this work when I have 100x more data? Can we afford this at 100x the scale?” The MongoDB Atlas UI makes most things extremely easy, but remember that some things you can only do through the mongo shell. You should ensure your employees learn or retain the skills necessary to be dangerous in the CLI. And this isn’t specific to just MongoDB, but think about the technology you’re partnering with and the surrounding community. For us, it’s incredibly important that MongoDB is a leader in the NoSQL space as it’s made it that much easier to talk about Learning Locker to prospective users and clients. We view it as a symbiotic relationship; if MongoDB is successful then so are we. James, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with the MongoDB community and we look forward to seeing you at MongoDB World 2017 . For deploying and running MongoDB, MongoDB Atlas is the best mix of speed, scalability, security, and ease-of-use. Learn more about MongoDB Atlas
How Thoughtful Illustration Is Setting MongoDB Apart: Meet Champa Lo
I sat down with Champa Lo, Technical Illustrator based in our New York headquarters, to learn more about her role as the first full-time illustrator at MongoDB. We talked about her passion for illustration, what she does, and how she’s shaping the future of design within the company. Ashley Perez: Welcome to the team! Can you tell me about your role? Champa Lo: Sure. I joined MongoDB right before COVID-19 hit. I came into the headquarters twice for an interview but ended up being one of the first new hires who had to start at home, on top of being the first person in a brand-new role. Technical Illustration is a first for MongoDB. The company has never had an illustrator on hand. Although we have talented designers who can illustrate within a design, that’s not their main focus: the overall design is. The difference with my role is that I work specifically on illustration. I also work to define the illustration style and help create a style guide. The most important aspect of my job is building good relationships with people throughout the company. I need to understand their goals and what they’re looking for so I can tell a purely visual story. AP: How did you get into illustration? CL: I guess you can say I fell into it (at least the illustration part). I always knew I wanted to be a graphic designer early on. I was a mentee for a graphic designer in high school and absolutely fell in love with the profession. I even have a cute clipping from my senior year high school paper where I talk about my dreams of being a designer. Interview excerpt from Champa's senior-year high school newspaper After high school, I studied graphic design at the University of Colorado Denver. When I was in the design program, I always found ways to incorporate fun illustrations in my projects. A year after I graduated, I moved to New York City because there were more jobs in design there and landed a job that allowed me to put my illustrating skills to good use. My first job was working with an incredible Creative Director at a small startup who built an amazing brand using illustrations to convey the company’s goals and messages. This was a part-time job: for four hours a day, I would concentrate on illustrating bespoke email banners for marketing prompts the team created that morning. With her guidance, I saw my illustration skills grow. It showed me the possibility of being a full-time illustrator. Here’s an example of a design I did while I was there: Email banner Champa created for ThinkEco during her first job as illustrator I love to illustrate (especially this type of illustration) because I’m a designer by trade, and the core of designing is to problem-solve. Illustration is no different. As a Technical Illustrator, I simplify and visualize complicated theories and concepts. Also, it’s fun! If I’m not having fun while illustrating, I’m very unmotivated. My creativity relies on avoiding boredom. I’m always working to improve my artistic skills. I’m a lover of learning, so I subscribe to tutorial sites such as Skillshare; follow artists on YouTube who share tutorials; and subscribe to a monthly art box that sends paints, brushes, pens, and so forth so I can try new mediums. Champa's illustration for a Google Local Guides social media post AP: How do you make your illustrations purposeful, engaging, and memorable? CL: Having thoughtful conversations about the subject matter is how you get good designs and illustration. If you don’t understand the subject to the best of your ability, how can you be successful at visualizing it? In school, I was taught to always research your subject matter and not design blindly. Putting in the extra work makes a huge difference. That’s also why 1:1 meetings are so important. It’s a time for me to learn, and it’s also a creative process for the stakeholders, because they find creative ways to help me understand. GIF Champa created for a MongoDB University Page We want to understand the goal. For example, should the illustration be futuristic or nostalgic? Recently, we had a conversation about cars and how we wanted to present them for a project. We decided to design the cars as compact or electric to show MongoDB as forward thinking and environmentally conscious, because those are the kinds of people we want to hire and work with. Or take COVID-19, for instance. The pandemic has changed the way people illustrate office environments. No longer do you have teams sitting in conference rooms. Instead, you have people working at home. So, I had to think of things to illustrate such as a sofa, home desk, and desk lamp. Maybe even a dog or a child. We thought about how we could incorporate this into the Zoom interface. Before, we didn’t have to think about it. Now, Zoom can be a way to add some personality to everyone’s digital space as we work remotely. That’s what I’m here for. To have those conversations and get deeper behind the meaning of everything we create. AP: Let’s talk a little more about your role at MongoDB. What projects do you work on? CL: I’m part of the Visual Design Team, which supports the whole company. It’s fun to meet and talk to many different people at MongoDB. It gives us a lot of diversity in the projects we work on. Along with illustrations, I also work on diagrams and small animations. Projects include campaigns, web illustrations, and events. Because I’ve joined the team, we’re able to have fuller discussions about illustration. Our designers work in a fast-paced world, but my process is slower because I make more bespoke illustrations and have to talk to people to understand the technicalities so we can go beyond generic illustrations. I have to be more thoughtful of what we’re presenting to the audience. Even though by having these conversations I slow down how quickly the designers move, I'm striving to build stronger relationships on the team through this practice. Top left: Champa’s illustration for MongoDB's new multi-cloud feature. Bottom right: An illustration for MongoDB's vendors page. I have found that by showing and explaining my illustration process and inviting them into it, people seem to trust me more. For example, I always share my sketches with stakeholders before digitizing the work. My sketches aren’t perfect, but by showing them not-so-perfect work, we can build the relationship and align on ideas. My hope is that the sketches allow people to see I’m open for collaboration and conversation. Example of a project working with MongoDB's Web Design team from initial sketch through final illustration AP: How does having these conversations help your design? CL: Great question! Working with such a diversity of people and projects helps me gain an immense amount of knowledge and insight. Past conversations and concerns help inform my design decisions. I’m almost like a liaison for all these different departments, and it's nice to transfer the information so we’re all aligned. For example, I’ve been working closely with Product Marketing on diagrams, and soon I’ll be working on diagrams with a member from the Docs team, too. Each team has taken its own paths for diagrams, but I would love to eventually create a holistic style that works for all teams beyond just these two. I believe having a good process to follow leads to meaningful and engaging illustrations. However, it’s important to find balance. You can’t overengineer it, because that can easily turn unproductive and formulaic. I always want an open dialogue and strive to show there’s room to collaborate. The process we have created has been successful so far, but it’s not set in stone. Further along we can add another step, or we may find certain things aren’t needed. AP: What’s your creative vision for MongoDB? CL: My goal for illustration is that we are inclusive, diverse, and thoughtful. What I’ve seen here is a global company full of people who are very passionate and kind. As designers, we have the power to show who and what MongoDB is. For me, that’s showing off who we are. One of our company’s values is “Own What You Do.” I think it’s such an important one for designers, because we should always add our personal experiences and perspectives to our work and translate the rest of the company’s perspectives and experiences, too. For the team, my goal is to continue streamlining a process so we’re transparent and support a collaborative spirit when it comes to working with us. Champa’s illustration for the MongoDB Atlas onboarding experience My goal is to create a unified vision between our two audiences: developer and enterprise customers. My hope is the illustrations bring joy and delight, and that our audiences see MongoDB has a personality. A really effective illustration system is memorable, and our research is starting to show that our audiences are beginning to remember our visuals. This is a huge brand lift, creating a personal experience versus the cold one people may experience with other tech brands. 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!