MongoDB World 2022 is the first in-person MongoDB conference in nearly three years, offering us an opportunity to announce new releases and outline the future of MongoDB. During three World keynotes on June 7, the company’s leaders discussed our vision for the company and our products — and how they form a developer data platform, a family of tools and services built around a common API to help developers reduce complexity, improve their experience, achieve operational excellence, and run deep analytics.
The inspiration for this concept originated from the desire to empower developers to build and scale applications faster, thus transforming their organizations and businesses. As Dev Ittycheria has discovered over the course of his eight years as CEO, “No customer has complained about innovating too quickly.”
“What they have complained about — and what they struggle with — is increasing their pace of innovation,” Ittycheria says. “Invariably, the thing that holds them back is their legacy, brittle, inflexible architecture and infrastructure.”
From the beginning, MongoDB was built by — and for — developers, a category that includes anyone who creates or works with applications, as well as those who lead them. “Every product we build, every feature we develop — is all geared towards developer productivity,” Ittycheria says.
“The obvious question,” Ittycheria continues, “is how do you make developers insanely fast and productive?” Given that developers spend so much time troubleshooting data, the answer lay in removing the friction inherent to this process.
That’s why MongoDB was built on the document model, which maps data to objects in code — transforming the way developers organized and interacted with data. We believed in the potential of the document model so strongly that we built our entire product family around it, streamlining the developer data experience and facilitating all data-related tasks and products, from search to analytics.
Additionally, the world continues to digitize, a trend that was only accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. “There will be 750 million new digital apps by 2025,” Ittycheria says, citing a study from analyst firm IDC.
CTO Mark Porter agrees. “There will be more applications built over the next four years than were built in the first 40 years,” he says. “The pace of innovation is increasing, and that means developer productivity is essential.”
To get ahead of these trends, Ittycheria says, MongoDB is doubling down on research and development — as well as empowering innovators to create, transform, and disrupt industries by unleashing the power of software and data.
The struggles of a developer
The root causes of many developer difficulties can be summed up in two parts: an obsolete, decades-old technology (the relational data model) and the complications that arise from its fundamental mismatch with modern applications.
“Relational databases were not scalable,” Porter says, recalling his time as a developer. “No matter how hard I tried, we couldn’t make them available, and no matter what we did, we couldn’t make SQL and RMS easy to use.”
In essence, the limitations of relational databases are becoming very clear, Ittycheria adds. “They’re too rigid, too inflexible, too cumbersome, and just don’t scale.” As a result, “there’s been a proliferation of niche databases — which are focused on some small point solution — to compensate.”
In fact, these narrow, specialized products (such as key-value or in-memory databases) often add cost and complexity. Combining these disparate products into a single architecture can impede innovation by siloing data, fragmenting application infrastructure, and further confusing workflows. This also creates a training gap — slowing down developers as they spend valuable time learning the ins and outs of each product.
A better way to work with data
“We obsess about helping you get from an idea to a global reality,” says Sahir Azam, MongoDB’s chief product officer. The result of that obsession is MongoDB Atlas, our developer data platform, which reflects that obsession in three key ways.
First, MongoDB offers an elegant developer experience. By getting the data, plumbing, and complexity out of the way, MongoDB enables users to “focus on innovating and building the differentiation for their companies and ideas,” Azam says. As a result, developers no longer have to create or run unwieldy, bespoke architectures for each new product or application.
Next, Atlas enables broad workload support, providing, in Azam’s words, “most, if not all, of the capabilities you need for demanding modern applications” — whether they’re operational, analytical, or transactional. This includes abilities like application search, data lake, and aggregation pipelines, to name a few.
Lastly, Atlas is resilient, scalable, stable, and secure, “so you can take an idea from a single geography to serving customers worldwide,” Azam says. When combined with the ease of use and versatility of the document model, the Atlas product family presents a uniquely valuable proposition for many developers.
In order to build the future, developers need a mission-critical foundation. “Applications have always needed a solid foundation — from silicon to chips,” Porter says. If “someone at the lower level misses a configuration file, someone at the lower level messes something up, and everything comes crashing down.”
Ultimately, the strength of MongoDB is that it frees up the developer to play to their strengths — building new products and applications, and not wrangling existing components. By providing documents and a flexible schema, high availability and scalability, and seamless partner integration, MongoDB helps become the mission-critical foundation for developers to build upon.
“Just a database isn’t enough,” Porter says. For you to succeed, “there’s an actual, existential need to have this foundation. And we call it our developer data platform.”
How far we've come
Today, MongoDB is the world’s most popular data platform for building modern applications, Ittycheria says.
The numbers back up this statement, with over 265 million downloads of MongoDB’s Community Edition, upwards of 150,000 new Atlas registrations per month, and more downloads in the past twelve months than in the first 12 years of MongoDB’s existence.
Further, MongoDB has greatly expanded its global reach. From a humble beginning of four regions in AWS, MongoDB Atlas now runs in 95+ regions worldwide in AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure. MongoDB has also partnered with other cloud providers around the world.
MongoDB’s core mission remains the same, even as our user base has expanded to 35,000+ customers across every industry and use case, as well as 100+ nations. MongoDB continues to simplify the developer experience, streamline the release process, speed up innovation, and help organizations ship faster.
“Every week, we see new ideas spring up across the globe,” Azam says, many of which are powered by MongoDB. These organizations, which range from small startups to large corporations, include a digital-only challenger bank in Vietnam, a startup providing simulation training for Norwegian healthcare professionals, and a nonprofit that deals with surplus food from restaurants across Mexico.
A serverless, mission-critical foundation
MongoDB’s goal is to make Atlas the data platform for developers, empowering them to build the applications of the future.
To achieve this objective, MongoDB is going serverless. “Modern development, in many ways, has been a constant search for higher levels of abstraction,” Azam points out, which removes complexity, and enables developers to move faster, differentiate, and pivot as needed. By going serverless, Atlas will minimize operational overhead down to almost zero, shifting the burden of servers, data centers, and provisioning away from developers.
Further, Azam points out that many existing serverless databases “pose some significant limitations.” For instance, one popular type of serverless database is the key-value store, an ultra-simple database that cannot sustain complex workloads — and forces developers to add more databases in order to support additional application functionality.
Instead, Atlas serverless combines all the best characteristics of serverless with the complete MongoDB experience — including the versatility of the rich document model, transactional guarantees, rich aggregations, and much more. This way, “we can support the full breadth of use cases you’re used to building on our platform,” Azam says.
Unlike other serverless products, Atlas serverless instances also offer a competitive pricing model. Currently, “most serverless databases force a hard trade-off” when it comes to scaling, Azam says, requiring users to either deal with cold start delays when ramping up their serverless databases from zero, or pay extra (and pre-provision capacity) in order to scale quickly up from zero.
In contrast, Atlas serverless enables users to “scale down to minimal usage and instantly scale up as your application needs — without any pre-committed capacity,” Azam says. Coupled with competitive pricing, flexibility for development and deployment, and instant scaling, Atlas serverless instances bring all of the advantages of serverless — without any of the downsides.
What MongoDB can do for developers
In essence, MongoDB will enable users to do their best work in four key ways.
Complicated application architectures, alongside an abundance of point solutions, force developers to spend more time and effort on operational “plumbing,” distracting them from their core mission of transformation through innovation.
Using the MongoDB Atlas developer data platform, developers can, in Azam’s words, “remove complexity and the need for more niche databases in your architecture.”These features include MongoDB Atlas Search, for a purpose-built search solution, and Atlas Device Sync, for ensuring data consistency between edge, cloud, and backend.”
Provide a better developer experience
“If you remove the friction from working with data,” Ittycheria says, “you make developers insanely productive.” An elegant developer experience “makes lives so much easier.”
This is achieved through superior tooling and integration between MongoDB features, such as Atlas serverless instances, which abstract away considerations like provisioning and scaling, or the Atlas CLI, which packs the power and functionality of a GUI into the simplicity of a command line.
As businesses continue to digitize, their need to collect information for real-time analytics has only grown. To address this need, Atlas has added real-time application analytics abilities into its unified platform, Azam says. This means supporting analytical queries (and not just transactions), as well as making this data easily available for deep analysis and strategic decision making.
This category includes Atlas Charts for rich data visualizations, and the Atlas SQL Interface for both connecting third party SQL-based analytics tools to Atlas.
“We do this all with a strong foundation of resiliency, security, and scale,” Azam says. This means automating core operational processes to deploy and run global data infrastructure, plus simplifying complex procedures such as data secrecy, migrations, and cross-environment sync.
Related features include the Atlas Operator for Kubernetes, which allows developers to deploy, scale, and manage Atlas clusters using Kubernetes, or our pioneering Queryable Encryption, a cryptographically secure, operationally efficient solution for working with sensitive data.
Building the future — with MongoDB
“But we’re not done yet — and neither are you,” Ittycheria says. “Tomorrow, we will help support newer and more inspiring applications. Just imagine what we’ll do tomorrow.”
“We have 150,000 new ideas coming in every month,” Azam says. “I challenge you to think about how to transform your organization — how to take your next big idea to a global reality.”
“What I’d like to challenge you to do is to grab your share of those 765 million apps,” Porter says. “Think about how you can change the world — and hopefully do it on our platform.... I am sure that the future is going to be built by you.”