Accelerating Delivery with a New Quarterly Release Cycle, Starting with MongoDB 5.0

Mat Keep and Dan Pasette


MongoDB 4.4 reached General Availability in July 2020. It was a big release. Our R&D team invested close to 270,000 engineering hours and closed over 5,200 tickets to bring 4.4 to production readiness. Like previous versions, it combined multiple projects that our engineering team had developed over the prior 12 months, delivering them all together in one large annual MongoDB release.

Going forward, we will no longer be holding back all of our new features and enhancements for a single release once per year. Starting in 2021, we will move to a more frequent delivery model with new Rapid Releases pushed live once per quarter (and even faster in the future!).

Why we are changing our release cycle & versioning

Our new release cadence will enable us to get the latest innovations and features offered by the database and drivers into your hands faster.

In order for the MongoDB community and our customers to understand this new release cadence and make it easy to track upgrade/downgrade dependencies between versions, the next major GA release of the database will be named MongoDB 5.0.

Our engineering team is already heads down developing 5.0, with its release planned for 2021. Beyond the move to Rapid Releases, we also have some major functionality enhancements coming for MongoDB 5.0. Stay tuned!

How the new versioning will work

Like today, we will still have an annual release that includes all features from the 3 prior quarterly Rapid Releases. This will be our Major Release, with the same product lifecycle documented in our current MongoDB Server Support Policy.

MongoDB 5.0 will be the first Major Release under our new versioning scheme. We will then increment the major version number by 1 for every Major Release. Rapid and Major Releases will use the new versioning scheme and semantics as follows:

  • 5.0 → Annual Major Release, scheduled for 2021
  • 5.1.0 → First Rapid Release one quarter later
  • 5.1.1 → Patch release on first Rapid Release
  • 5.2.0-rc0 → Initial release candidate for the second Rapid Release
  • 5.3 → will follow the conventions above
  • 6.0 → Annual Major Release, scheduled for 2022

Consistent with our support policy today, patch releases will be published for each Major Release during its product lifecycle. Each Major Release will be inclusive of all of the code and features of the three previous Rapid Releases, as well as three months of additional development work in readying the new Major Release. For example, MongoDB 6.0.0 will include all of the code and features of MongoDB 5.1.0 through 5.3.x.

The figure below shows how the versioning will work.

New MongoDB Versioning Structure

Which versions will we support?

All Major and Rapid Releases will be available and supported in MongoDB Atlas, our fully managed, multi-cloud database service.

Outside of Atlas, for our on-premise database software, Major Releases will remain supported, but Rapid Releases will be available as development builds from the MongoDB Download Center. These will be for evaluation only — they will not be supported releases outside of Atlas. For example, we will not offer support for the MongoDB Enterprise Server releases versioned MongoDB 5.1.0, MongoDB 5.2.0, and MongoDB 5.3.0 (and all patch releases for each of these versions). Commercial support, along with integration to Ops Manager and Cloud Manager, will be available for them in the annual Major Release that follows.

Maintaining the annual release cadence with Major Releases will ensure there is no impact to those of you who don't wish to (or who aren’t able to) upgrade often.

Why are Rapid Releases only supported in MongoDB Atlas?

Focusing the qualification and support of new Rapid Releases to MongoDB Atlas enables our engineering organization to ship even higher quality software faster to the cloud. Otherwise we would have to qualify each release on the 20+ different supported MongoDB platforms every quarter, which would significantly reduce the rate of feature delivery to you. It would also mean users incurring the operational overhead of upgrading each quarter to stay on the current release, which is something we can simply automate for them in MongoDB Atlas.

MongoDB Atlas customers in the dedicated tiers (M10+) will have the option to opt in and out of quarterly release trains, while all other MongoDB users will be able to download each quarterly release for evaluation.

Release Candidates on the path to MongoDB 5.0

We plan to publish our first Release Candidate in the first half of 2021. It will be available from the Download Center, and will be tagged as MongoDB 5.0.0-rc0 (Release Candidate).

Consuming more frequent releases: Versioned API

Upgrading to any new version of a database can be a long and complex process. This is because you typically have application-side dependencies that mean you also have to upgrade your drivers and sometimes parts of your code as well.

With the new MongoDB Versioned API, that all changes. You will be able to upgrade to the latest releases of the MongoDB database without first having to upgrade your applications and drivers.

With the Versioned API, you can pin your application to a specific version of the MongoDB API with the confidence that your code will continue to run for years, without interruption, even as the database is upgraded beneath it. This provides you with a level of investment protection and API stability that you don’t get from most other databases.

Wrapping Up

Starting with MongoDB 5.0, our switch to Rapid Releases is well aligned to a cloud-first world characterized by frequent updates. You will spend less time waiting for big features tied to a major annual release. With the Versioned API, you won't have to think about version compatibility and planning upgrade cycles across your applications, drivers, and the database.

If you have any questions, please use the comment section below. Alternatively, you can post a comment in our Community Forum or speak directly to your MongoDB representative.

Safe Harbor The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for our products remains at our sole discretion. This information is merely intended to outline our general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision nor is this a commitment, promise or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality.