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.
Australian Start-Up Ynomia Is Building an IoT Platform to Transform the Construction Industry and its Hostile Environments
The trillion dollar construction industry has not yet experienced the same revolution in technology you might have expected. Low levels of R&D and difficult working environments have led to a lack of innovation and fundamental improvements have been slow. But one Australian start-up is changing that by building an Internet of Things (IoT) platform to harness construction and jobsite data in real time. “Productivity in construction is down there with hunting and fishing as one of the least productive industries per capita in the entire world. It's a space that's ripe for people to come in and really help,” explains Rob Postill , CTO at Ynomia. Ynomia has already been closely involved with many prestigious construction projects, including the residential N06 development in London’s famous 2012 Olympic Village. It was also integral to the construction of the Victoria University Tower in Australia. Link to Podcast Episode Here “These projects involve massive outflow of money: think about glass facades on modern buildings, which can represent 20-30 percent of the overall project cost. They are largely produced in China and can take 12 weeks to get here,” says Postill. “Meanwhile, the plasterer, the plumber, the electrician are all waiting for those glass facades to be put on so it is safe for them to work. If you get it wrong, you can go in the deep red very quickly.” To tackle these longstanding challenges, Ynomia aims to address the lack of connectivity, transparency and data management on construction sites, which has traditionally resulted in the inefficient use of critical personnel, equipment and materials; compressed timelines; and unpredictable cash flows. To optimize productivity, Ynomia offers a simple end-to-end technology solution that creates a Connected Jobsite. Helping teams manage materials, tools, and people across the worksite in real time. IOT in a Hostile Environment The deployment of technology in construction is often fraught with risk. As a result, construction sites are still largely run on paper, such as blueprints, diagrams and models as well as the more traditional invoices and filing. At the same time, there is a constant need to track progress and monitor massive volumes of information across the entire supply chain. Engineers, builders, electricians, plumbers, and all the other associated professionals need to know what they need to do, where they need to be, and when they need to start. “The environment is hostile to technology like GPS, computers, and mobile phone reception because you have a lot of Faraday cages and lots of water and dust,” explains Postill. “You can't have somebody wandering around a construction site with a laptop; it'll get trashed pretty quickly." Enter MongoDB Atlas “On a site, you might be talking about materials, then if you add to that plant & equipment, or bins, or tools etc, you're rapidly getting into thousands and thousands of tags, talking all the time, every day,” said Postill. That means thousands of tags now send millions of readings on Ynomia building sites around the world. All these IoT data packets must be stored efficiently and accurately so Ynomia can reassemble the history of what has happened and track tagged inventory, personnel, and vehicles around the site. Many of the tag events are also safety critical so accuracy is a vital component and packets can't be missed. To address these needs Ynomia was looking for a database that was scalable, flexible, resilient and could easily handle a wide variety of fast-changing sensor data captured from multiple devices. The final component Postill was looking for in a database layer was freedom: a database that didn't lock them into a single cloud platform as they were still in the early stages of assessing cloud partners. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation , which Postill had worked with in the past, suggested MongoDB , a general purpose, document-based database built for modern applications. “The most important factor was that the database is event-driven, which I knew would be difficult in the traditional relational model. We deal with millions of tag readings a day, which is a massive wall of data,” said Postill. A Cloud Database Ynomia is using MongoDB Atlas , the global cloud database service, now hosted on Microsoft Azure. Atlas offers best-in-class automation and proven practices that combine availability, scalability, and compliance with the most demanding data security and privacy standards. “When we started we didn't know enough about the problem and we didn't want to be constrained," explained Postill. "MongoDB Atlas gives us a cloud environment that moves with us. It allows us to understand what is happening and make changes to the architecture as we go." Postill says this combination of flexibility and management tooling also allows his developers to focus on business value not undifferentiated code. One example Postill gave was cluster administration: "Cluster administration for a start-up like us is wasted work," he said. "We’re not solving the customer's problem. We're not moving anything on. We’re focusing on the wrong thing. For us to be able to just make that problem go away is huge. Why wouldn’t you?" Atlas also gives Ynomia the option to spin out new clusters seamlessly anywhere in the world. This allows customers to keep data local to their construction site, improving latency and helping solve for regional data regulations. Real Time Analytics The company has also deployed MongoDB Charts, which takes this live data and automatically provides a real time view. Charts is the fastest and easiest way to visualize event data directly from MongoDB in order to act instantly and decisively based on the real-time insights generated by event-driven architecture. It allows Ynomia to share dashboards so all the right people can see what they need to and can collaborate accordingly. “Charts enables us to quickly visualize information without having to build more expensive tools, both internally and externally, to examine our data,” comments Postill. “As a startup, we go through this journey of: what are we doing and how are we doing it? There's a lot of stuff we are finding out along the way on how we slice and re-slice our data using Charts.” A Platform for Future Growth Ynomia is targeting a huge market and is set for ambitious growth in the coming years. How the platform, and its underlying architecture, can continue to scale and evolve will be crucial to enabling that business growth. “We do anything we can to keep things simple,” concluded Postill. “We pick technology partners that save us from spending time we shouldn't spend so we can solve real problems. We pick technologies that roll with the punches and that's MongoDB.” When we started we didn't know enough about the problem and we didn't want to be constrained," explained Postill. "MongoDB Atlas gives us a cloud environment that moves with us. It allows us to understand what is happening and make changes to the architecture as we go. Rob Postill, CTO, Ynomia