Finding Inspiration and Motivation at MongoDB University
For many people, across the globe, 2020 was a strange and challenging year. The new year has brought the hope of healthier and more prosperous times ahead, but inspiration to stay positive can still be tough to find. For MongoDB Certified Developer Kirk-Patrick Brown, the past months presented obstacles, but with perseverance he also experienced growth and even found ways to give back to his local community using what he learned at MongoDB University . Kirk-Patrick sat down with us virtually, from his home in Jamaica, to talk about his passion for MongoDB, getting certified through MongoDB University in the middle of the pandemic, and staying motivated. Can you tell us about yourself and your approach to software development? I’m Kirk-Patrick Brown, a senior software developer at Smart Mobile Solutions Jamaica. I consider myself an artist. I have a history in martial arts and poetry. I medaled in the Jamaica Taekwondo Championships and received the certificate of merit in a creative writing competition hosted by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. It was only natural to bring those artistic traits when moving into software development. For me, software development is also an artistic pursuit. It gives me a canvas to create and bring ideas to life, which in turn brings business value. When did you begin building with MongoDB? I had my first hands on-experience with MongoDB in 2018. I realized it was one of those rare gems that you see, and you're immediately curious about how it actually works, because it’s not like what you’re used to. In Jamaica there are a lot of organizations that run on some form of relational database. But once I learned about MongoDB and NoSQL I became a self-motivated evangelist for MongoDB. I understand that organizations may have used relational databases in the past, and that is understandable because there is a longer history and at one time that was the main type of database for your typical workload, but things have changed drastically. In this era there is more demand for data and all different types of unstructured data. With the advent of big data, systems that were designed years ago may not be able to provide optimal storage and performance. MongoDB is a better alternative for such use cases and enables built-in features such as auto-sharding to horizontally scale and aid in the efficient storage and retrieval of big data. MongoDB keeps being so innovative. The other day I was preparing for a multicloud accreditation with Aviatrix, and it was so funny--at the very same time, MongoDB came out with multicloud clusters. It was just beautiful. You don’t want to get locked into one cloud provider for your deployments. Even though these cloud providers offer availability zones for increased fault tolerance, things can still happen. Becoming multi-cloud allows you to become more resilient to disaster. Being in multiple clouds also lets you bring some of your replica sets closer geographically to your customers. By leveraging regional presences across multiple clouds, you can reduce in-network latency, and increase your ability to fulfill queries faster. That’s one of the main features of MongoDB replication--the ability to configure a member to be of higher priority than others, which could be driven by the location in which most of your queries originate. Multi-cloud clusters enable high availability and performance, and I think it was amazing of MongoDB to create such a feature. You call yourself a “self motivated evangelist” for MongoDB. We’re flattered! What has your experience been? I’m actively trying to get organizations to appreciate NoSQL. Recently I presented to a group of developers in the agile space. I spoke to them about replication, sharding, indexes, performance, and how MongoDB ties into advanced features of security in terms of authentication. I’m primarily pushing for developers and organizations to appreciate the Atlas offering from MongoDB. Right out of the box you can instantly have a deployed database out there in Atlas--with the click of a button, pretty much. You can get up and running immediately because MongoDB is a cloud-first database. Plus there's always customer support, even at the free tiers. You don’t feel alone with your database when you’re using MongoDB Atlas. There has been some resistance, because NoSQL requires a bit of a mental shift to understand what it can provide. But we live in a world where things continually change. If you are not open to adapting I don’t even have to say what’s going to happen, you know? You became MongoDB Certified through MongoDB University in the middle of the pandemic. Can you tell us about that experience? Even before the pandemic started I was studying courses at MongoDB University, and traveling 100 kilometers to go to work every week, while also caring for my family and three year-old son back at home. There were some delays, but I was able to become MongoDB-certified in July 2020. Becoming MongoDB-certified has impacted me in positive ways. I’ve met people I did not know before. It has also given me a level of confidence as it relates to building a database that is highly available, scalable, and provides good data reads via the different types of indexes and indexing techniques provided by MongoDB. I can create the database, perform and optimize CRUD operations, apply security and performance activities alongside a highly available and scalable cluster, all thanks to the knowledge provided by MongoDB University. The courses at MongoDB University covered those aspects very well. There is enough theory but also a great amount of practical application in the courses, so you leave with working knowledge that you can immediately use. What is the project you worked on during the pandemic that you’re most proud of? One of the things I’ve worked on intensely during the pandemic is helping to develop a video verification application for a local company and building out most of the backend functionality. For that project, there was a great deal of research needed into the technological tools and implementation to support recording verification videos of customers. I felt like it was my contribution to society at a time when it was dangerous for people to come into that local business. If I can develop something that allows even one person not to need to come into that physical location, that could be the difference between someone contracting the virus or not. A virus that has taken many lives and disrupted a lot of families this year. What advice do you have for other developers who are struggling right now with motivation to advance themselves and their careers? Don’t ever give up. In anything that you do. There is nothing that you’ll do that’s going to be both good and easy. Being a developer, you experience different problems that you have to solve but you have to keep moving forward. I don’t believe in failure, because in anything you do, there is always a win. You have your experiences and those experiences can guide your decision making. It’s just like machine learning. Machines need a lot of data and you can’t give the machine all positive data. It needs some negative data for it to become a good training model. You need bad experiences as well as good ones. If we had all good experiences our brains would not have the training models to make those correct decisions when we need them. Each day I make one definite step or positive decision. And that may be as simple as going onto the MongoDB University site and saying “I’m going to complete this one course.” You just have to keep going at it. You plan for a lot of things in life, but things most of the time don’t happen when you want them to. There's going to be some delay or something. But you can’t give up. Because if you give up then everything is lost. As long as there is time and there is life then there is opportunity to keep doing this thing. And it may take a little bit to get there but eventually you will. But if you give up, you definitely won’t!
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Néstor Campos Rojas
This week we’re talking with Néstor Campos Rojas , a Software Architect working at Metric Arts , a BI consulting company based in Santiago, Chile. Néstor is a MongoDB Certified Developer, and was excited to share the different projects he’s worked on since becoming certified, tackling everything from fraud and security management in public transportation, and even the Chilean wine scene! Eloise Giegerich : Hi, Néstor, thank you for taking the time to share your story today! Let's start by getting into your tech background. When did you first become interested in tech, and why did you decide to pursue the field? Néstor Campos Rojas : Hi, Eloise, thanks for this interview. My interest in technology first developed when I was 16. I felt that studying and pursuing a career in the area really fit with my mentality, since I have always been someone who likes to learn, and I like to work on different things at the same time. For instance, my current job allows me to work with databases, in Web programming, and much more. EG : That’s a good transition into my next question. Where do you currently work? What is your role, and what do you like about it? NCR : Currently, I work in Santiago, Chile, as a Software Architect at Metric Arts. I like working for my company because they support me in my professional goals, which include everything from aspiring to develop my own company (I have many ideas in my mind for this), to honing my speciality in advanced programming, specifically Big Data and Machine Learning. My colleagues are also excellent; I learn a lot from them every day and they help me develop new projects, as well as improve current ones. EG : How did you first discover MongoDB? What projects have you used or are you in the process of using with MongoDB? NCR : I discovered MongoDB when I was researching new technologies for Web development (NodeJS and MEAN stack). At Metric Arts, we understand that we can’t limit ourselves, or be “stuck” to one particular technology when tackling many different developments; each development and greater project needs to be covered by one or more technology. So, it was in my search for this something new that I started to develop Web services connected to MongoDB in order to test and check the database’s speed and flexibility with data manipulation. One of the successful test projects I worked on with MongoDB involved a notification delivery system. Through an API that I developed, outside systems and applications were able to connect and send various notifications by email or SMS, alerting users to upcoming events. Because these events were diverse, I needed something with a variable structure; that’s where MongoDB came in as the solution. EG : What other databases have you worked with, and how does MongoDB compare? If possible, we would love to hear about some specific features you like and/or dislike. NCR : I have worked with relational databases and MongoDB, but I do not like to compare them; although they both have certain similar functions, the approaches and means through which I address and work with each are quite different. In some projects when I need consistency and data relationship, I use relational databases; when I need flexibility and scalability, I opt for MongoDB. For example, for projects with data from sensors (Arduino, Raspberry, etc.), such sensors can send large volumes of information in a short period of time and the data are very varied from each other. We knew that trying to normalize the data would be too complicated, and therefore focus on saving the data regardless of its origin and structure, with processing later if needed. This particular use case needed both the flexibility and scalability of MongoDB; I see those as the key advantages of MongoDB with respect to other engines in the market. EG : What inspired you to become MongoDB certified? NCR : With the modeling approach offered through document databases and the many possibilities that are opening up in the Big Data world, MongoDB was the perfect gateway to new challenges. I also saw MongoDB as an innovator in the database world, and knew that if I perfected my knowledge of it, I could more easily prepare myself for technologies whose concepts were similar. EG : Could you share which courses you took to prepare for your exam? NCR : I studied directly from the MongoDB documentation, then did courses M102 , M101JS , and M101P . The courses were practical and gave very detailed instructions on the concepts that would appear on the exam. Because I am now involved in more Big Data projects where I need to apply database optimization and integration with other platforms (Hadoop, Spark), I am studying the M201 and M233 courses. EG : Since becoming certified, what have been some of the benefits – personal or professional – that you’ve experienced? How have you applied, or how do you intend to apply, what you’ve learned to your future projects? NCR : MongoDB certification has allowed me to participate in strategic projects in my company, and to lend my support to other projects, both by proposing architectures and offering advice to programmers. One of the projects where I’ve been able to apply my MongoDB knowledge is Metric Arts’s Video Analytics , due to its size and range of data possibilities; here, I’ve worked on supporting security issues through camera and fraud detection in public transport. I’ve also applied MongoDB to a couple of Web projects where I saw the need for a flexible and scalable data model. Presently, I am using MongoDB with Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart City projects to record the information of sensors in different areas and situations. One of these IoT projects involves implementing measures to control crops in Chilean vineyards; this is especially important, because Chile is one of the largest wine producers in the world. Here, where the data of the sensors is varied and lacking defined structure, a NoSQL database is fundamental; MongoDB fulfills the objective of storing and processing data in a more agile way. EG : For those about to take or retake their exam, do you have any advice or tips that helped you prepare? NCR : I have several certifications, but with MongoDB, I found the preparation much better – that is, the available material the strongest – since the documentation available on the website paired with the courses cover 100% of the certification subjects. This was not always the case with other certifications. EG : And finally, what has been your greatest takeaway from your certification experience? What advice or encouragement do you have for those considering pursuing certification? NCR : The experience was great! From a web development specialist standpoint, I was able to understand more about the databases I work with, and familiarize myself with the corresponding tools. I would advise those preparing for a MongoDB certification to not only read the documentation, but practice taking on projects that have been developed in a relational database environment, and apply it to MongoDB; this will give them a new perspective on the treatment of data, and it is an important step towards tackling Big Data. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us, Néstor! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process . If you’re already certified and would like to share your story, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org .
MongoDB Certified Professional Spotlight: Ulrich Cech
This week in our MongoDB Certified Professionals Blog Series we’re talking to Ulrich Cech , a Developer/Architect at Deposit Solutions in Hamburg who became certified as a MongoDB developer in 2016. A longtime lover of IT and programming, Ulrich discusses how he first discovered MongoDB, how it compares to relational models, and why he believes getting certified keeps you in the Big Data loop. ![Ulrich Cech, MongoDB Certified Professional](https://webassets.mongodb.com/_com_assets/cms/Ulrich-jtnur2yj11.png) EG : Hi, Ulrich! Let’s start by discussing how you got into tech; what interested you about the industry? What do you like about your role at Deposit Solutions and what inspired you to become a developer and architect? UC : IT and programming have always been my favorite hobbies; I like programming because with little environment and minimal limits, you can construct awesome things. It’s kind of like building your own small universe, which behaves according to your design and desire. My first job was at a software company that focused on foreign trade and German customs. It was a very cool company in Stuttgart, and I was able to learn a lot working there. Currently, I work at Deposit Solutions in Hamburg as developer/architect, specializing in the real estate bond area. Since moving to Hamburg, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some very cool projects. In my role, I try to help to think about using the right architecture and design for the given domain, project, or product. What most inspired me to become a developer and architect was a desire to avoid “cargo cult programming.” The latter has been one of the biggest problems I’ve encountered in projects; essentially someone says “we need framework A and library B and architecture C” because they’re new and exciting, but no one considers whether or not this structure will actually fit the current problems. This lack of planning results in tremendous code production, which in the end turns out to be completely useless. EG : How did you first discover MongoDB? In what projects have you used/are you in the process of using MongoDB? UC : I first discovered MongoDB at DreamIT GmbH in Hamburg, where it was used for a gaming platform. I had heard of NoSQL databases before, but my background was in the relational world. When I first saw MongoDB in action, my immediate thought was, "That cannot be real, that is too easy.” After working with the database, I grew to like it more and more; what specifically impresses me is that you don’t have to "convert" or change object-oriented thinking as you would with a relational database. At Deposit Solutions, I am interested in employing MongoDB for a new Microservices project. As for my private projects, I use MongoDB in conjunction with Morphia as a document-to-object-mapper; I like that MongoDB enables an easy setup and the perfect match with domain-driven design. EG : What other databases have you worked with, and how does MongoDB compare? UC : In my former projects I dealt with Oracle, but it was mostly abstracted via Java Persistence API (JPA). Currently, I have to deal with MySQL, which is not fun. PostgreSQL is also a database I’ve worked with, and it is my favorite database to use when I’m required to use a relational database. What I like about MongoDB is that it is incredibly easy to use. You can set it up in no time, even as a cluster on a local machine, since there is no complicated setup and installation process. Another great advantage is that you don't have to split your domain objects into relational thinking. Instead, you have your domain object and you can (nearly) insert this one-to-one into your database. And finally, you don't have this awful time-consuming process of schema updates, because MongoDB is schemaless. Sure, you should use some kind of structure, and shouldn’t put everything into one collection ;-). But if you decide to change a field for your data type, or add or remove a field, the operations don't require you to change databases. MongoDB does lack transactions across multiple documents. In most situation, the need for transactions is due to the relational design, so this can mostly be avoided in MongoDB completely. But in some situations, you need multi-document transactions. I hope these transactions will be introduced in upcoming releases – I know it is a high priority topic for MongoDB ;-) EG : What inspired you to become MongoDB certified? UC : I like to prove my knowledge. In general, certifications show one’s personal ability to constantly self-educate. Unfortunately, there are many certifications out there, which usually cost a fortune. But MongoDB’s certification prices are affordable. Plus, MongoDB is relatively new on the market, so a deep knowledge of the database can be helpful in the future when it comes to new job opportunities. EG : What was challenging about the courses and what was rewarding? UC : The course I took – M101J: MongoDB for Java Developers – was well structured and provided a good starting point to learn the basics; topics like the aggregation framework, for instance, though challenging information to absorb, can be extremely powerful. But the courses alone should definitely not be your only means of preparation. Those hoping to be certified need to read the official documentation for MongoDB and for the individual courses in order to ensure that they can work fluidly with the database. The more you query and play with data, the more familiar you can become with all the features of MongoDB. EG : Since becoming certified, what have been some of the benefits, personal or professional, that you’ve experienced? How have you applied – or how do you intend to apply – what you’ve learned to your future projects? UC : Well, on a personal level, it is always a good feeling to be certified ;-). Unfortunately, in my current work projects, MongoDB is not being used. But like I mentioned above, I am actively trying to introduce it into one Microservices project. When it comes to things like sharding and clustering, you have to understand how to correctly set up and employ these concepts. Because of this, the knowledge absorbed through preparing for MongoDB certification is a great benefit. But there is more to this, too. For successful MongoDB usage, you cannot adopt the old relational thinking.Thorough knowledge of domain design in the database comes with experience, either through projects or through playing around in a private environment, wherein you can test things and find the right solution for the right use case. MongoDB’s certification offers the necessary and fundamental platform to begin to gain this experience. EG : Looking back now, can you share any advice for those studying for (or retaking) their exam? Are there any specific preparation strategies you found useful? UC : Personally, I think the best strategy is to educate yourself and learn as much as possible. I know this sounds self-evident; it is. But the more you know and the more knowledge you have, the easier it is to answer questions. Like I touched on previously, you shouldn’t rely solely on the courses. They are a good starting point, but you need much more in-depth knowledge. It’s a must to read the official documentation; there are many use cases described in depth, which are very helpful. While preparing for the certification exam, I also read through the MongoDB Definitive Guide, which I found very helpful. The guide’s third and most updated edition is forthcoming this year. Finally, and perhaps my most important suggestion: Use MongoDB, query the database, and create indexes, analyzing if and how they perform. Use the Aggregation Framework, trying to think of some questions your datasets can answer, and build these queries and pipelines on your own. Model multiple domains and think about how the data will be best stored in MongoDB. Set up a replica set, even a sharded cluster, and add and remove nodes. The best strategy is to get hands-on knowledge of the database. EG : And finally, what has been your greatest takeaway from your experience getting certified? Why would you encourage others to pursue certification? UC : I think my greatest takeaway has been the confirmation that knowledge can never be bad. MongoDB is often used in the Big Data environment, and this domain is becoming increasingly important in the tech community. Because of this, demonstrating experience in this domain can be critical to finding a suitable job opportunity. And finally, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to become certified. As I mentioned, you don't have to spend a fortune, and if you prefer, you can take the courses and the exam at home and on your own time. For me, this was absolutely great and time-saving. Thanks for sharing your story, Ulrich! If you’re interested in getting professionally certified, you can learn more about the MongoDB certification process . If you’re already certified and would like to be featured in a future blog post, let us know at email@example.com .