MongoDB moves beyond the database with new cloud services

The new services include Data Lake, Full Text Search and Auto Scaling on MongoDB Atlas.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

With ambitions to go from a database player to a full-fledged data platform, MongoDB on Tuesday announced a series of new services and features for areas of the data layer that are database-adjacent. The new services include Data Lake, Full Text Search and Auto Scaling on MongoDB Atlas. The company also announced the general availability of MongoDB Charts, as well as its plans for the recently-acquired development platform Realm. MongoDB also announced new features in version 4.2 of its core database. 

The new products fit in with the vision for MongoDB that co-founder and CTO Eliot Horowitz shared with ZDNet late last year.

"It's about going from just being a database to being more like a platform," he said with respect to the company's future. "And, whatever you need to do with it, it just works. So, in transactional use cases and analytics use cases, it's really a sort of one-stop-shop for most of your data needs. It's back to that core concept that data should be easy to work with so that you can develop those applications, be they web application, a mobile application or an analytics application it should really, just work." 

With Atlas Data Lake, customers can quickly query data on Amazon S3 object stores, regardless of the format, using the MongoDB Query Language (MQL). It's a completely serverless service, run through the MongoDB Atlas console, with no infrastructure to set up or manage. Google Cloud Storage and Azure Storage compatibility are planned for the near future. The Atlas Data Lake effectively competes with offerings like Amazon Athena or Azure Data Lake.

Meanwhile, Atlas Full Text Search provides rich text search capabilities based on Apache Lucene 8 against MongoDB databases. Typically, developers will use third-party search engines such as Solr with their databases for rich search functionality -- this eliminates the need to manage any additional infrastructure or systems. Developers can run search queries using MQL once they have created indexes using either the Atlas UI or API.

MongoDB is also bringing automated capacity management to the core Atlas global cloud database with Auto Scaling. Atlas will track key resource utilization metrics in real time and adjusts database sizes up or down as needed. Just like manually triggered scaling, Auto Scaling will be executed in a rolling fashion across an Atlas deployment to ensure it doesn't negatively affect associated applications. The new feature can be easily toggled on or off using the API or UI.

MongoDB also announced the general availability of MongoDB Charts for real-time data visualization. Customers can use it as a managed service in MongoDB Atlas or download it to run on premise. This latest release includes powerful new features including embedded charts in external web applications, geospatial data visualization with new map charts and built-in workload isolation.

For mobile developers, MongoDB on Tuesday also revealed its plans for Realm, the development platform it purchased in May. While MongoDB is often used as the back end for mobile applications, it hasn't had a compact version suited for embedding on the device. Realm offers a lightweight database optimized for mobile device deployments.

Now, MongoDB says it plans to  merge the Realm platform with the serverless platform MongoDB Stitch under the Realm brand. Realm's synchronization protocol will connect with the Atlas global cloud database on the backend, letting developers connect data to the devices running their applications via Realm Sync. Developers should have access to the new Realm Sync in 2020, MongoDB said.

"By combining Realm's wildly popular mobile database and synchronization platform with the strengths of Stitch, we will eliminate a ton of work for developers by making it natural and easy to work with data at every layer of the stack, and to seamlessly move data between devices at the edge to the core backend," Horowitz said in a statement.

The company on Tuesday also the latest version of its core database, MongoDB 4.2. Key new features include field level encryption. MongoDB is taking a client-side approach to encryption. All encrypted fields on the server are rendered as ciphertext, making them unreadable to any party without client access and the right keys. At the same time, application code can  run unmodified for most database read and write operations.

Building on the introduction of multi-document ACID transactions in the MongoDB 4.0 release, version 4.2 introduces distributed transactions. This will extend multi-document ACID guarantees from replica sets to sharded clusters.

Additionally, an updated Kubernetes Operator gives users full management of their MongoDB deployment from a single Kubernetes control plane, as well as a consistent experience across private, hybrid or and public cloud infrastructure.

As MongoDB builds out it own services -- many for the cloud -- it's also deepening its partnership with Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Earlier this year, Google Cloud announced new partnerships with several leading open source-centric companies, including MongoDB.

With the intention of offering MongoDB Atlas as a "first-class service" on GCP, Google said customers would get a unified user interface for app management, with provisioning and management capabilities directly in the Google Cloud Console. The tight integration also means unified billing, with one invoice from Google Cloud. MongoDB Atlas is now supported in all 20 Google Cloud regions and available to customers via the GCP Marketplace. MongoDB Atlas also now works with Google's Cloud Key Management Service (KMS), which lets customers manage their own security keys for encryption of sensitive data.

According to Manvinder Singh, director of IaaS/PaaS Partnerships at Google Cloud, Google has seen a diverse set of customers taking advantage of the MongoDB/ Google partnership, including traditional enterprises in areas like retail and manufacturing. The positive feedback has prompted the two companies to invest further in their partnership, Singh told ZDNet, with more integrations to come.

In the meantime, some joint customers include Universe, an event ticketing and marketing platform that was acquired by Live Nation. Universe has gone all in with GCP and is using MongoDB in conjunction with Google tools like BigQuery, Cloud Pub/Sub and Cloud Dataflow.

Auto Trader UK, the used car sales site, has said that using MongoDB on GCP helped reduce complexity for developers by automating tasks such as managing resources in the cloud. This has let developers focus more on innovating for their platform. 

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