MongoDB customers and community members are the people who realize GIANT ideas. We are excited to begin highlighting some of our community members, our MongoDB Giants, who are tackling challenging problems and bringing solutions to life with MongoDB.
March’s Giant of the Month is Mike Grayson, Senior MongoDB DBA at PayChex, a provider of payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small to medium-sized businesses. Mike has been involved in many aspects of the MongoDB community since he started using the database in 2014. He received numerous internal awards from PayChex for his dedication to operationalizing their new system and educating his teams on the new database technology. In his own words, “with lots of help from Ops Manager, integrating MongoDB in to our ecosystem has been a great and painless process.”
Mike was also instrumental in the MongoDB 3.2 release and participated in Beta Testing for The Encrypted Storage Engine and MongoDB Compass. Paychex is a member of MongoDB’s customer advisory board and through their involvement Michael provides input into MongoDB’s product development.
In his spare time, if he’s not spending his time on the Advocacy Hub or reading about MongoDB and other databases, you can find Mike playing video games, rooting for Bayern Munich, or any of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams with his wife, three girls, and two dogs in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York.
Have your voice heard in the MongoDB community. Join our Advocacy Hub and start getting involved today.
Using MongoDB, Kafka and Spark to Build Infrastructure for India’s First Affordable Smart-Homes Project
By Gautam Rege, Co-Founder of Josh Software and Co-Founder of SimplySmart Solutions In Sheltrex , a growing community about two hours outside of Mumbai, India, we’re part of a project that will put more than 100,000 people in affordable smart homes. To make those homes truly smart we’re building infrastructure that streams data from millions of sensors in near real-time. Citizens can then access the data through a mobile application that allows them to better manage their home. It’s a fantastic example of how technology can improve our lives, but building scalable and fast infrastructure is not simple. In this blog, I want to highlight how my team at Josh Software , one of India’s leading internet of things and web application specialists, is overcoming those challenges by using a stack of interesting data tools like Apache Kafka, Apache Spark and MongoDB . Of the planned 20,000 homes in Sheltrex, more than 1,500 have already been completed. Many people people are already living on site. The pilot is a proving ground for a whole host of smart township technologies. From mobile connected security to smart-meters monitoring power consumption. Along with the mobile application for individual citizens we’ve also built software that will aggregate this data for the entire community. This gives the township the ability to negotiate more competitive rates from India’s electricity providers. Sheltrex affordable home project in Karjat, India To provide homeowners and the community with accurate and timely utility data means processing information from millions of sensors quickly, then storing it in a robust and efficient way. The Smart City Application communicates with our stack APIs to make business sense for residents and the township management. The entire solution is split into two “universes.” Universe One is where we stream all the sensor data that is flooding in from the homes in real time. This could include data points like temperature or energy usage. The sensor and smart-meter data is first ingested into a messaging system powered by Kafka (an open source, high-throughput, distributed, publish-subscribe platform that can quickly process real-time data feeds at a large scale). Through Kafka the data is dropped into Spark , a large-scale data processing engine that is basically a much faster and simpler alternative to MapReduce. It’s in Spark, using Java and Python, that we do the processing and aggregation of the data - before it’s written on to our second “universe.” Universe Two is where the smart home data is stored and accessed by the mobile application. We need something fast, flexible and robust, so we turned to MongoDB. It is the primary database for all storage, analysis and archiving of the smart home data. This includes time-series data like regular temperature information, as well as enriched metadata such as accumulated electricity costs and usage rates. To connect the analytical and operational data sets we use the MongoDB Connector for Hadoop . We’ve found that the three technologies work well in harmony, creating a resilient, scalable and powerful big data pipeline, without the complexity inherent in other distributed streaming and database environments. Both in development, where it’s relatively simple to integrate them, and in production where the data flows smoothly between each stage. Smarter, faster I’ve been using MongoDB since the beginning, in fact, I’ve written a couple of books on the subject . It’s been great to see how the database itself has matured and kept adding the right features at the right time. Another big advantage for us is how much more productive MongoDB makes developers and operations staff. The devops team is continuously delivering code to support new requirements, so they need to make things happen fast. MongoDB’s ease of use means we can accelerate our development process and get new features integrated, tested and deployed quickly. Right now we’re operating across eight Amazon Web Services instances in the same zone. As the project expands and more citizens move into Sheltrex we expect to see huge growth. That’s why it’s been so important for us to leverage technologies that operate efficiently at scale. Sheltrex affordable home project in Karjat, India So far the pilot has been incredibly successful and we’re pleased with how our infrastructure is steadily increasing it’s capacity as thousands of new homes come online. But what we’re doing in Sheltrex is only the beginning. Housing is a volume game, as more people live in smart affordable homes the greater the effect will be for the community and the environment. I believe this type of affordable and intelligent housing should become standard across the world. Minor initial costs lead to massive efficiencies over the lifetime of the building. These are not simply monetary - consider the wasted water and electricity that we could save. To get there it will take political will and, of course, considerable funding, but from my point of view the technology is ready to go today. By building our giant idea on modern and mature technologies like MongoDB, we’re ready to change the world. About Josh Software & SimplySmart Driven by enthusiasm and passion, Josh is India’s leading company in building innovative web applications working exclusively in Ruby On Rails since 2007. The company thrives only on three basic needs - disruption, innovation, and learning. It builds products for customers who are able to fulfil at least two of these needs. Details are available at www.joshsoftware.com . Due to the diverse nature of building smart solutions for townships, Josh has incorporated another company called SimplySmart Solutions that builds and implements these solutions. As the name suggests SimplySmart Technologies relies on simple solutions for making things smarter. Details are available at www.simplysmart.tech . Who else runs on MongoDB? Find out: Who else uses MongoDB?
Latinas in Tech: Andy Morales Coto
This spotlight is part of a blog series to amplify exceptional Latina talent in the tech industry. Through our partnership with Latinas In Tech, this article originally appeared on their site . Tell us about yourself, Andy. How did you get to where you are today? I’m originally from Costa Rica and have been living in NYC for the past six years. I’m a product designer, but I wasn’t always one: before coming to New York, I was working in multiple industries, as a game designer, a copywriter, and a digital marketer. But I guess most of that is just titles and places I come from, not really the way I got to be where I am. If I look more deeply, I would say that the moments that have led me to where I am today are a mixture of privilege and the fallout of self-discovery. I was born in an upper middle class family, the daughter of two public servants — a doctor and an engineer — and learned English pretty early on at their behest. I was able to go to private school my whole life, up until college, when I attended the University of Costa Rica, which is publicly funded by all Costa Ricans. I wouldn’t say I had a luxurious life growing up: there were certainly hand-me-downs from my sisters, but I also never had a problem buying a video game console if I wanted it — I’d just have to give up having a birthday party (and I did). Overall, I’d say my parents motivated me to follow my dreams, and would gladly take me to any classes I wanted (English, robotics, programming, drawing) from the time I was a little girl. In that sense, I always had a leg up, understood what was considered “excellence” in education, and pretty early on set my mind on studying abroad eventually. With that said, my comfortable life became, well, not comfortable at all when I came out at 19. College changed my life completely. Finally being able to understand who I was, I came out as queer to my very conservative parents, and the reception was extremely toxic. For the first time, I understood what it meant to not be able to afford a meal, or even a bus ticket. I walked miles to go to college several times, hell-bent on finishing my degree in communications (the closest thing to tech, I figured, without the toxicity of the homogeneity of computer science). Finally I graduated, but my whole perception of the world had changed: I became more empathetic and less judgmental of others, and I knew what depression and trauma were. Coming out made me a better human being with an understanding of my privilege, and I’m deeply grateful that I took that step. Coming out made me a better human being with an understanding of my privilege, and I’m deeply grateful that I took that step. I continued working for several years after graduating from college, did another degree in marketing while I worked, and finally got accepted into Parsons (NYC) on a scholarship to study transdisciplinary design. And here we are! Oh, also, and this is very important: I’m married to a lovely American and live with her and two fluffy tabby cats in Brooklyn. NYC is what I call home now (and probably forever). What inspired you to pursue a career in the tech industry? I think pretty early on I was in awe of technology, and I don’t just mean computers, but also cars, glasses, electricity, hammers. I’ve always admired anything that expands the possibilities of what a human can do. But my “aha moment” happened when I was 10 and accessed the internet at the University of Costa Rica. My mother was a teacher there and had access to connection before the rest of the country did. She’d sometimes let me use her computer, and I still remember using Netscape in complete fascination of what this meant for humanity: we would all be connected. That’s when it really clicked for me: I love this, I love computers. As a manager at MongoDB, what have been some of the most memorable and impactful projects you’ve worked on so far? I’m the most proud of the people I manage, and seeing them grow every day. My direct reports are infinitely more talented than I am in some ways, and I welcome that. I want to be surrounded by people more talented than I am, and they’re going to change the face of the design industry, I have no doubt. Watching them get better and better, lead projects of their own, and successfully navigate difficult stakeholder situations — well, it just puts a smile on my face! But, apart from that, a specific project I’ve enjoyed is Blue Sky, a yearly design-driven sprint that we do in conjunction with key stakeholders to create the “concept car” of the product I lead design for. This will be the second year we do Blue Sky, and we hope to use design thinking beyond the graphical user interface, partnering with product and engineering to imagine the future experience of MongoDB Realm in the CLI and the IDE. With each Blue Sky, design positions itself as a partner for our stakeholders, and our proposals coming out of the project tend to be implemented up to 75% of what we design. It’s exciting to become strategic partners in the direction the product will take. How has your culture (and/or other identity marker) shaped you as a leader? As a manager? Well, my culture is a mixture of queer culture, Costa Rican culture, and NYC culture. I think all of these shape me as a leader, because it means I am not a monolith as a person; I’ve learned to see the world through many different perspectives. Being able to compare and contrast how different cultures view or react to situations makes me self-aware, and puts me in a position where I strive to understand how others are reacting to situations, in the frame of their culture. I’d say this is empathy, which is a bit of a design cliche, but I actually think that it’s more than empathy — it’s vulnerability and sobering humility. Trust me, I wasn’t always super self-aware, but as I’ve gotten to know the world through different cultural lenses, I’ve realized that I have to be careful with how I help others be what they consider their very best. Whether it’s grappling with cultural expectations or navigating workplace biases, we fight through many challenges as Latinx women. What’s one you’re working through currently? I’m definitely sometimes worried about how I come off to my teammates, particularly those who are not Latin American. I can be emotionally vulnerable, honest, and bubbly: I cry at work at times, I am not afraid of jumping into difficult conversations, and I laugh loudly. Unfortunately, as a woman and as a Latina, these can be seen as vapid qualities, symbols of weakness. Why is she so loud, so emotional, so open to talking? In the past, I’ve tried to cover this up by being serious, talking softly but more deeply, and avoiding vulnerable conversation; as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that inhibiting those qualities hinders me at work, because it makes me feel miserable, and that I end up gaining more supporters in the long term by being as open-hearted as I am. I definitely think I have my upbringing in Costa Rica to blame for that: it is not the norm for women to be like that at work, but while I was growing up I certainly saw more female bosses be open and vulnerable. I can be emotionally vulnerable, honest, and bubbly: I cry at work at times, I am not afraid of jumping into difficult conversations, and I laugh loudly. This, of course, sometimes brings some internal turmoil: Am I just not meant to be in this American culture? Am I borrowing from my Costa Rican experiences without giving back? There’s a certain sense of duty that you feel toward those who are in your home country, even if your current definition of home has changed (I consider myself more a New Yorker than anything else, by now). To be honest, I don’t have a solution to that sense of duty and loss, and I struggle with it pretty often. I deal with it by donating and helping others that want to chase their dreams in the USA, but I still struggle with it. It’s hard not to miss the place you grew up in. It’s a big piece of you, no matter where you go. Looking to the future, what inspires you, and what initiatives are you most excited about right now? I’m inspired by games, and I can’t wait to continue using playful design in every product I design. Tangentially, I design live action role playing (LARP) games, and I can’t wait to be able to play with my other designer friends again, hopefully at a house by the beach. What’s one piece of career advice you’ll never ever forget? One of my professors from grad school, Mathan Ratinam, told me once that throughout his career he learned that you are lucky if you get to choose a job for one of three reasons: you love the work, you love the mission, or you love the people. I’ve tried loving the work, and I’ve tried loving the mission, but let me tell you: if I don’t enjoy working with the people, I’m not going to be happy in the long term. Whenever I consider a career move, I don’t focus on the mission or the work as much anymore, because those haven’t brought me the happiness that I thought they would. People do. Whenever I consider a career move, I don’t focus on the mission or the work as much anymore, because those haven’t brought me the happiness that I thought they would. People do. How do you reset when you’re in a funk? I let myself cry/experience sadness first, I go to therapy (cannot stress this enough: if you can afford it, please go to therapy), and I practice Muay Thai. I just love kicking a bag and sweating the problems out, you know? Any podcasts or blog recommendations? I don’t really listen to podcasts or read blogs that often. I play games and I read books; those are my two sources of design inspiration. I’d say, if you can, play “Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” to see what the epitome of design is. Also, play any LARP from the Golden Cobra Challenge: http://www.goldencobra.org/ . You can print those for free and play them with people online. Bookswise, I’ve been reading Fall ; or, Dodge in Hell , by Neal Stephenson, but sometimes it hits too close to home. Is there anyone you’d like to shout out for their support along your career journey? My wife, Crystal Morales. She’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. She is the smartest career advisor I know, and the smartest person I know. Period. Mathan Ratinam, of course, whom I mentioned before. He has inspired me so many times and listened to me talk for hours on the phone. A champ. My friends who, during college, helped me get a meal when I couldn’t: Olalla, Edith, Diana (my best friend since then), Warren, Memo, MaJo. A big hug to them all. And my college teacher Andrea Alvarado, who understood the pains I was going through at home when I came out and, instead of failing me, gave me extra work to do, showing me that part of being compassionate is never being condescending. Andy is thriving as a lead product designer at MongoDB . If you’re ready to work with what sounds like an incredible group of people, here are three open roles you should check out! Product Manager, Server Sales Development Representative Lead Engineer, Docs Platform