Hasta la Vista, DB

Eliot Horowitz

Today I am announcing that my last day at MongoDB will be July 10th.

It’s been an incredible 12.5 years at MongoDB that, in a way, all goes back to my days as an undergraduate CS student in the early 2000s. While many of the topics in Brown University’s database systems class were applicable to any database, like b-trees and -- of course -- pointer swizzling, everything was ultimately presented as a building block for relational databases. Any other database style was relegated to the final, semester-ending lecture.

It made sense at the time to teach things that way. But in every software endeavor I worked on, from trivial weekend projects to multi-year enterprises, databases just kept getting in the way. Often maddeningly so.

After many years of partnering on multiple applications, Dwight Merriman and I set out to make a database we actually wanted to use, so we would never again have to deal with the tyranny of relational databases. We wanted something that was, at its core, born of the same assumptions that we, as developers, have about programming. Data should be stored the way you think about working with it. Databases should be able to scale horizontally and be spread globally like any other parts of your applications. Change is inevitable and iteration is more important than knowing answers ahead of time.

I’m proud to say we’ve absolutely accomplished what Dwight and I set out to do. Not only is MongoDB the database I’d always wished I had, but the database landscape itself is entirely transformed. No self-respecting database would be caught without a document solution, and distributed systems are becoming the new norm. Moreover, by pursuing new ideas, we helped spur more innovation in the database space in the past ten years than had been seen in decades. I predict that in another ten years, the document model and distributed databases will be the standard. Now I can look forward to tackling many new challenges, knowing that I won’t have to worry about the database getting in my way.

An outcome I’m equally proud of is that in the pursuit of that technical goal, we built a phenomenal engineering team with a strong commitment to collaboration, honesty, ambition, and ownership. The early days of me and Dwight moving fast and experimenting were great fun, but without this team’s incredible efforts, MongoDB would have remained a pipe dream, and I doubt we’d have seen the explosion of use cases in the market that we now take for granted.

I will miss building MongoDB, but I leave it confidently in the team’s brilliant, capable, and talented hands. I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish.