Since welcoming the first Diversity Scholarship recipients in 2014, each year I look forward to meeting the new class of Scholars at MongoDB World.
As the conference grows, so does the scholarship award. This year, I’m excited to share that scholarship recipients located outside of the tristate area will also receive a complimentary 3-night hotel stay at the NY Hilton Midtown. We recognize the cost of a hotel room in New York City can be significant, and hope this removes another barrier that may prevent some applicants from attending.
In addition to a complimentary hotel stay, scholarship recipients get*:
- Complimentary admission to MongoDB World
- Complimentary admission to a workshop
- Invitation to a lunch session with other Scholars
- Speed mentoring with MongoDB speakers at the event
- A MongoDB certification voucher applicable for both developer and DBA certification exams
- Six-month access to on-demand MongoDB University courses
- Lifelong membership in the online MongoDB Diversity Scholars community
- A feature in a blog post
Members of underrepresented groups in tech** qualify to apply for a scholarship. Apply today. Hurry, the deadline is May 4.
We look forward to seeing your submissions and to meeting you at MongoDB World!
*Please note that travel is not included in the Diversity Scholarship.
** MongoDB’s Scholarship program seeks to support to members of groups who are underrepresented in the technology industry. This includes, but is not limited to, Black, LatinX, women, low-income, and LGBTQ.
BookMyShow Continues to Lead Online Entertainment Ticketing in India and Scales to 25 Million Users with MongoDB
India's twin passions for cinema and tech make it a natural fit for automated ticketing. But if ever a market needs scalable solutions, this 1.4 billion-strong nation is it. That’s a lesson Viraj Patel, VP Technology for BigTree Entertainment , learned the hard way. "We started out in ticketing distribution in 1999 using telephones," he says, "before mobile platforms and internet access were on the scene. It just didn't work. The investors pulled the plug in 2002.” Undeterred, the company successfully pivoted to selling software to cinema chains. By 2006, Viraj and team were ready to aim for the big prize again. They just needed the right tools. With the internet and mobile data fitting into place, a trial project in online ticket aggregation looked promising enough for investors to fund the launch of BookMyShow in 2007. “We launched with a 100 percent Microsoft stack,” says Viraj, “but soon realized that scaling with Microsoft was not an easy job.” It wasn’t the Windows platform or the developer tools that were the problem, he recalls: “It was the SQL Server database. That was the first bottleneck as we got more and more traffic, and it soaked up more and more resources and money. It wasn’t the right solution. It couldn’t scale with us.” Spoiler: By 2018, BookMyShow, each month, sells more than 10 million tickets for all manner of movies and events and serves three billion pages a month across the web and its 50 million plus installed apps. Scaling happened. The plot changed for the better in 2010 with the discovery of MongoDB. “We were looking around for alternatives, and it was the new kid on the block.” (In fact, MongoDB 1.0 had launched just the year before, and MongoDB India was yet to come.) “We tested it internally as a straight distributed database for monolithic SQL database swap. Every web and mobile application we built needed a database that had performance and scalability, and MongoDB blew us away on both.” MongoDB really won its spurs when the company added Facebook Connect to its registration process. “The registration database was the first thing we built, and it was running on SQL Server. Which was OK, until Facebook Connect came along and we added that as a registration option. Then the database really struggled. We switched to MongoDB and it was night and day. Tremendous gains. Not only did we get the ability to represent customers directly as JSON documents in the database, which made our data model much simpler, but we got all our performance back. “We want the flexibility of upgrading the schema for future use cases, and that’s so much easier in MongoDB. The data structures we create are clear and easy to read, and it’s so much simpler to understand and extend,” Viraj adds, about their discovery of the advantages of document-model storage. MongoDB’s second big job was also thoroughly web scale, as it took on the task of giving each of those millions of users their own bespoke, personalized view of the service. This time, the engineering team knew where to start. “About five years ago, we built our personalization engine on MongoDB,” says Viraj, “and it continues to scale with us. It stores a lot of customer information and when a customer visits, it pulls it out, personalizes it in real time and delivers it. That really improves the customer experience. We see an 18 percent increase in conversion, personalized versus non-personalized.” Today, MongoDB is the default database for developing ideas and services in BigTree, and Viraj cheerfully admits he has long ago stopped counting how many nodes are in use. “Last time I looked, it was between 100-160,” he says. Future plans include containerization of the databases to smooth out upgrades and ease of deployment with BigTree’s agile DevOps production pipeline and, when the time comes, sharding the customer database. That’s planned for, but not currently necessary. He explains: “We just haven’t reached the point where writes to MongoDB are the limiting factor anywhere in the service. We get a long way with MongoDB replica sets, and are safe in the knowledge that there are no limitations to scaling further when we need to.” Viraj cares deeply about latency – “We’re a performance-sensitive company” – and much of the service is instrumented by monitoring and management platforms such as New Relic. While initial performance gains were superlative, he says, things have only continued to improve as new features and technologies have been added. “We had been using SQL tabular databases for customer booking history,” says Viraj. “We moved this to MongoDB and have seen a superb performance boost. What used to take up to 5000 ms on traditional SQL databases went down to 10-20 ms on MongoDB using the MMAP storage engine. When we moved to MongoDB’s default WiredTiger storage engine, it improved five to ten times further, to 2ms. We’re still getting this performance, even though the database now has close to 200 million documents.” There have been other benefits from following MongoDB’s roadmap. “WiredTiger has made things much more cost-effective,” he says. “Security is better as we now encrypt data instead of storing it in plain JSON. Our customer database is five times more compact and our personalization database uses nearly eight times less storage.” In the future, he says, they expect aggregation queries and query caching mechanisms will improve performance still more. As for reliability, “MongoDB auto-heals so well in the event of any failures in our platform we don’t even need to worry about it. That’s highly appreciated, and much better than any of the other databases we have used.” There can be few better stories of early adoption and innovation with MongoDB than the success BigTree Entertainment has enjoyed with BookMyShow. Viraj and his engineers insist on picking the right tools for each part of the job running India’s favourite online ticketing service, their long experience of casting this particular actor in so many roles makes MongoDB a performer they’ve come to rely on. Read more about what others are building with MongoDB .
Solving Customer Challenges: Meet Consulting Engineer Paul-Emile Brotons
Our Professional Services team is growing. Hear from Paul-Emile Brotons about his Consulting Engineer (CE) role, the types of projects he works on for customers, how he continually learns, and what makes this role a great opportunity for people with technical backgrounds who enjoy solving a variety of problems. Jackie Denner: Thanks for sharing your experience as a Consulting Engineer. Can you tell me about the Consulting Engineer team within Professional Services at MongoDB? Paul-Emile Brotons: I joined MongoDB a year and a half ago. The Consulting Engineering team is responsible for assisting customers at every stage of their MongoDB journey to ensure they are successful. We assist customers with training, database design, architecture design, code reviews, preproduction audits and reviews, setup, and health checks. I’m part of the South European team and I’m based out of Paris, but the Consulting Engineering team is worldwide. Since we are solving challenging problems, the team is very close and meets daily to share ideas and discuss solutions. I always have colleagues available to help at any time of day. JD: As a junior engineer, why did you opt for a Consulting Engineer role instead of a traditional Product Engineer role? PEB: Before joining MongoDB, I was a full-stack engineer at a French startup specializing in revenue management. I learned great technical skills there, but, in the end, I felt I was missing the big picture: What other stacks exist on the market? What tools are other engineering teams at big companies or startups working with? That is exactly what the Consulting Engineer role made possible for me. Since our projects are usually short-term, a typical CE may see 50 projects in a year. In my current role, I have been working with almost every new and exciting technology. I also get to learn how people within product and engineering work in other organizations. I find this very valuable, and it’s not something you can easily find in a traditional Product Engineer role. JD: What does a day in your role look like? PEB: CEs are assigned to “missions,” which typically range from one to four days and concern a specific customer. Longer-term projects can span several months. My role generally starts the week before. Before each mission, I try to set up a short preconsult session where I meet with customers and discover the topics they want to discuss. Then, on the day of the mission, I provide training, performance evaluation, tuning, and more. I learn a lot in my role, and I try to find solutions to all the difficult problems the customer has not been able to solve alone. It’s challenging and very rewarding. In some cases, I may not be assigned to a customer and I will be working on preparation and continuous learning. I appreciate the liberty my role gives me. JD: What was your onboarding like, and what learning and growth opportunities are there on the Consulting Engineer team? PEB: To be completely honest, I was a bit scared when I joined. I was very impressed with the way people work here, and I had a feeling it would be hard for me to onboard. However, the ramp-up process is so well-done that it almost felt easy. The first weeks were dedicated only to training. First, we have to learn a lot about MongoDB. A CE is a database expert. Since almost every software needs a persistent layer, this expertise is very valuable. Second, we have to know our stuff when it comes to Linux, networking, cloud providers, architecture, coding, and more. Afterward, everything is done to gradually increase the level of difficulty; complex missions are not delivered by new hires. Management is really careful about that, which is reassuring. Once a CE is performing well in their role, they may be promoted to Senior and then Principal grades. Many of us also study to pass certifications. I will soon start studying for a Linux sysadmin certification. The management team is very supportive and encourages continuous learning. JD: How do you interact with other teams at MongoDB? PEB: The CE role requires a lot of interaction with teams such as Sales, Presales Engineering, and Product Engineering. Consulting Engineers can be leveraged to help Sales and Solution Architects before the sale happens, since we are seen as trusted advisers. We also often speak to product teams to discuss the inner workings of a product, feature, or system. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people within MongoDB. JD: What is one of the most interesting or challenging projects you’ve worked on? PEB: It is honestly difficult to choose, but I would pick a long project I worked on with a major container transportation and shipping company. It was challenging given the scope of the project and the number of interactions and subjects I had to deal with. The project was key for the customer, and it was technically demanding. We had to review the whole application architecture; analyze the front end to infer the requests and schema design needed on the database side; work with a wide range of professionals, including developers, solution architects, Linux engineers, and project managers; and test that everything would happen as expected. It was a great learning experience, from both a personal and professional perspective. JD: What makes someone successful in a CE role? PEB: Aside from sufficient knowledge of computer science, the CE role requires good communication and problem-solving skills. You have to know how to listen to and understand the problems customers encounter before you can think of a solution. Good customer contact is often the key to a mission’s success, and it makes the difference between a satisfied customer and a happy customer. JD: What advice would you offer someone looking to move into Professional Services at MongoDB? PEB: First, prepare well for the interviews — study up on algorithms, two programming languages, and basic database and hardware concepts. The interviews can be challenging, and there are a lot of rounds. Second, I would advise candidates to look at the beginners course on the MongoDB University website. The courses are free and they’re the best I have done on the web so far. Going deeper into learning MongoDB before joining the company saved me a lot of time. Last but not least, I would encourage candidates to contact CEs at MongoDB to get a clear view of the company and the role. My colleagues and I are more than happy to answer any questions that might help someone decide if this role is the right fit for them. Interested in a Professional Services career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our team and would love for you to transform your career with us!