We're gathering up this week's MongoDB News a bit early for the holiday. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
MongoDB News: Topps Modernizes Trading Cards With Apps Built on MongoDB
Information Week: Big Data Profile-Eliot Horowitz of MongoDB
Inc.: The Hottest Startup You’ve Never Heard Of.
OpenLife: Translating Reliably Between XML and JSON
ObjectRocket Blog: Tapping Scalability (And Good Beer) With ObjectRocket and MongoDB
Laura Czajkowski: MongoDB MUG March Madness
MongoDB Blog: Why iBE.net Chose MongoDB
Antoine Dollmaier: Storing Syslogs with MongoDB and Syslog-NG
LeanStack: How Authy Built A Fault-Tolerant Two-Factor Authentication Service
Employee Profile: Will LaForest
As part of a series showcasing our wonderful employees, we're featuring interviews each week. You've already met Brendan Coleman , our director of Business Development, and Barrie Segal , the the Project Manager for the Development Experience team. We're excited to introduce you to Will LaForest, the Senior Director of US Federal Sales. What is your role at MongoDB? What department do you work in? I head up the Department of Tax Reclamation, based in Washington, D.C. When I started, I told Dwight I would sell the government enough software to get his tax money back. I think I have a lot of work left to do. Officially my title is the Senior Director of US Federal Sales, but that doesn’t sound nearly as cool. Where were you before MongoDB? Why did you choose to come to MongoDB? Previous to my stint at McDonald’s as head fry chef, I worked at MarkLogic as a Principal Technologist. When Max (Schireson, the former COO of MarkLogic) joined MongoDB, I decided to re-evaluate the NoSQL space. I felt Dwight and Eliot made three really smart bets and I could easily see MongoDB dominating the space in the tech community. Using a document-based model and JSON specifically, native language drivers, and an open source business model (a no brainer in my opinion) all led me to talk to MongoDB about a position. But ultimately it was the people here the made the choice easy. After spending an hour interviewing with Dwight, who was the CEO at the time, I knew I had found a new home. He totally called me out on my weak Lisp skills and we spent 20 minutes talking about inverted indexes. What’s your hometown? I grew up in Queeche, Vermont until I was five. Then my family moved to D.C., but no self-respecting Washingtonian actually admits they’re a Washingtonian Did you have previous experience using MongoDB before you arrived? If so, how are things different now that you work at MongoDB? If not, how did you learn MongoDB and how was the education process? I downloaded MongoDB and played around with it for a few hours, but didn’t have any substantial technical experience with it. The domain and the principles of MongoDB were very similar to MarkLogic, so absorbing the concept of MongoDB took little time. It was harder to adapt to the open source business model. It’s a dramatically different approach than if you’re selling commercial software, where you spend massive amounts of resources on a relatively small number of deals. With the government in particular, there are many more hoops to jump through. Convincing people to use new open source software in production is challenging. There are mountains of certification and accreditation requirements, approvals, etc. The model of engagement was very different than what I was used to, and resources were much more limited. But it’s worth it. Have you had any personal projects where you’ve used MongoDB? My only personal project with MongoDB is trying to use it to finance my private island. I have been working on some Minecraft mods with my son but haven’t found a plausible excuse to make him use MongoDB. How do you get to work? I usually opt for a rickshaw pulled by a low-paid congressional intern. It’s great for the environment. When that’s not available, I’ll usually drive. There was a time when my family only had one car, so for some of my meetings I would put on my nice clothes, ride my razor scooter to the bus, take the bus to the metro, and then razor scooter through the metro to get to meetings. What’s a typical day (or week) for you? When I have a typical day or week, I’ll take some notes and let you know. It will likely involve a polygraph, congressional lobbying, and a shady business lunch in a subterranean restaurant. What do you love most about MongoDB? Definitely the people. I love everyone I work with, except for Dan Pasette. He’s taller, smarter, and better looking than me, and it’s just not good for my self-esteem. DISCLAIMER: Will and Dan get along great, and Will does not harbor any hard feelings towards Dan based on his appearance or intelligence. What’s the most challenging project here at MongoDB that you’ve worked on, and how did you succeed? I’d say our last deal with a not-for-profit venture capital firm. With most deals you’re only selling to one customer. But we had to convince several secret agencies to buy. Each one had to be sold to individually, and they had to agree how they would cooperate, how the subscriptions would be split, etc. It's especially difficult to get these groups to work together, let alone make a deal. We couldn’t even meet some of our end customers face to face and had to work with them via proxy. Ultimately we closed the deal, but it was definitely a challenge. What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had working here so far? I don’t know if there’s one experience or one moment, but growing the federal team has been extremely rewarding. Every time we close a deal or deliver something on the technical side, I get an adrenaline rush. Ultimately one of the reasons I joined MongoDB is because there’s a real opportunity to help the government do things that are very difficult to do, while remaining cost effective. What’s your favorite lunch? I love a good Fiber One bar. They’re super quick and portable. My favorite flavor is the one they sell at Costco: chocolate chip, I think. I also drink a lot of milkshakes; chocolate malt is my favorite. Interestingly, I and four other members of the federal team are vegetarians so there is a lot of vegetarian food consumed. I’m a bit of a pizza aficionado; D.C. has terrible pizza, so every time I’m in NYC I try to get even a mediocre slice. Name one secret skill you have, unrelated to work. I’m actually a legendary dungeon master. Sometimes I roll a combination of 20 sided and 12-sided dice. Kindle or book? What’s your favorite book? I read books. My favorites are The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinsky and 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Describe your perfect weekend. A lot of sleep, some ping-pong and video games What are your plans for Thanksgiving? We are flying up to the Adirondacks to celebrate with the rest of my family. My parents aren’t that bright and they actually retired to upstate New York. I think they must have been holding the map upside down when they made their decision. There’s supposed to be 30 people at dinner; sounds like a nightmare. What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? Do you cook at all? It’s not Tofurky. Normally I cook the turkey for my carnivorous family. I layer bacon all over the bloody turkey. Bacon is one of the few things I still crave as a vegetarian so I have to live through others. My favorite part is the pies. If you're interested in joining the MongoDB Team there are a number of open positions available in Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and Business Development. To learn more about open roles at MongoDB, please visit the MongoDB Careers Page.
MACH Aligned for Retail (Microservices, API-First, Cloud Native SaaS, Headless)
Across the Retail industry, MACH principles and the Mach Alliance are becoming increasingly common. What is MACH and why is it being embraced for Retail? The MACH Alliance is a non-profit organization fostering the adoption of composable architecture principles. It stands for Microservices, API-First, Cloud-Native SaaS and Headless. The MACH Alliance’s Manifesto is to: “Future proof enterprise technology and propel current and future digital experiences" The MACH Alliance and the creation of this set of principles originated in the Retail Industry. Several of the 5 co-founders of the MACH Alliance are technology companies building for retail use cases: for example commercetools is a composable commerce platform for retail (built completely on MongoDB). MongoDB has been a member of the MACH Alliance since 2020, as an “enabler” member, meaning use of our technology can enable the implementation of the MACH principles in application architectures. This is because a data layer built on MongoDB is ideal as the basis for a MACH architecture. Members of our Industry Solutions team sit on the MACH technology, growth and marketing councils, and actively are involved with furthering the adoption of MACH across the Retail Industry What is MACH, why is it important for retail? The retail industry has long been a fast adopter of technology and a forerunner in technology trends. This is because of the competitive nature of the business leading a drive towards innovation- its vital that retails are able to react quickly to new technologies (e.g. NFTs, VR, AI) to capture market share and stay ahead of the competitors. Retailers have realized that to be able to deliver new and value-add experiences to their customers, they have to cut back on operational overhead that leads to increased cost and build standard functionality that can either be bought or re-used. This is where the benefits of MACH comes in- it's all about increasing the ability to deliver innovation quickly while lowering operational costs & risk. Microservices: An approach to building applications in which business functions are broken down into smaller, self-contained components called services. These services function autonomously and are usually developed and deployed independently. This means the failure or outage of one microservice will not affect another and teams can develop in parallel, increasing efficiency. API-First: A style of development where the sharing and use of the data via API (application programming interface) is considered first and foremost in the development process. This means that services are designed to aid the easy sharing of information across the organization and simple interconnectivity of systems. Cloud-Native SaaS: Cloud-native SaaS solutions are vendor-managed applications developed in and for the cloud, and leveraging all the capabilities the cloud has to offer, such as fully managed hosting, built-in security, auto-scaling, cross-regional deployment and automatic updates. These are a good fit for a MACH architecture as adopting them can reduce operational costs and frees up developers for value-add work like new unique customer experiences. Headless: Decoupling the front end from the back-end so that front ends (or “heads”) can be created or iterated on with no dependencies on the back end. The fact that the layers are loosely coupled decreases time to market for new front ends, and encourages the re-use back-end services for multiple purposes. It also de-risks change in the long term as services can function independently. Where does MongoDB come in? MongoDB is an enabler for MACH, meaning that using MongoDB as your data layer helps retailers and retail software companies. achieve MACH compliance. Our data model, architecture and functionality empower IT organizations to build in line with these architecture principles. During a digital transformation, where a retailer is modernizing a monolith into a microservices based architecture, they're looking for a data layer which will enable speed of development & change. MongoDB is the "most wanted" database 4 years running on Stack Overflow's developer survey- this is because our document model maps to the way developers are thinking & coding, and the flexibility allows for iterative change of the data layer. When looking at API based communication, the standard format for APIs is JSON, which again maps to MongoDB's document model. The idea with API-first development is to develop with the API in mind- why not store the data the way you're going to serve it by API. This reduces complexity and increases performance. Cloud Native and SaaS products have become the norm as retailers wish to reduce maintenance and management work. MongoDB Atlas, provides a database-as-a-service, guaranteeing 99.995% uptime, automatic failover and self-healing and allowing DevOps engineers to spin up databases in minutes or by API/ script. Many retail software companies are also built on MongoDB Atlas- for example commercetools, which provides an ecommerce solution as a SaaS product. Headless architectures require a data layer that is able to adapt and change for new workloads. The ability to change the schema at runtime, with no downtime, makes MongoDB's document model ideal for this. Performance and the ability to scale for new "heads" is also important. MongoDB is known as a high performance database and can scale vertically automatically or scale out horizontally seamlessly. So MongoDB becomes a great choice for retailers choosing to adopt a MACH architecture (see figure 1 below). As a general purpose database with high performance, a rich expressive query language and secondary indexing, MongoDB is a really good fit as a data layer as it is capable of handling operational and analytical needs of the application. FIgure 1: Example of a MACH architecture Want to know more? Are you interested in a transition to MACH? Dive into our four part blog series exploring each topic in detail and how MongoDB supports each of these principles: Microservices API-First Cloud-Native SaaS Headless