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Maximum Uptime: DocumentDB Introduces MongoDB Compatibility to the Amazon Cloud

Author: Charleste King | | February 5, 2019

Great news for NoSQL fans in Amazon cloud: If your business prioritizes scalability, performance and maximum availability, you can now run your Amazon Web Services (AWS) applications with a MongoDB-compatible document database cluster, known as DocumentDB. Amazon just released all the details on this significant advance, which is should be especially exciting for anyone running mission-critical ecommerce and mobile components. Here’s what you need to know now:

What’s So Great About MongoDB?

MongoDB is a NoSQL database that handles Big Data better than relational databases because it stores unstructured and heterogeneous data in documents instead of rows and columns. MongoDB processes massive amounts of data that is typically messy, unpredictable, and impossibly fast. Storage and compute are decoupled so developers can scale up your application’s read capacity to literally millions of requests per second by easily provisioning low-latency replicas—no matter how massive your data source or how fast the pipeline. The point is that MongoDB’s clients represent a who’s who of five 9’s (99.999% availability). Big fans of this open source applications and tools from MongoDB include Google, eBay, Cisco, and Facebook. From flexible ecommerce master sites to geospatial data that’s updated in real time, next gen web development depends on platforms like MongoDB. Now, DocumentDB can offer the same kind of back-end SSD-based storage layer, with 6x replication across 3 separate Availability Zones.

Why Did AWS Give It a Different Name?

To be clear, this is not MongoDB. The announcement specifies: “Amazon DocumentDB implements the Apache 2.0 open source MongoDB 3.6 API by emulating the responses that a MongoDB client expects from a MongoDB server, allowing customers to use their existing MongoDB drivers and tools with Amazon DocumentDB.” In other words, if your applications are already using MongoDB, you should be able to run them on AWS with few or no changes.

Why Is AWS Introducing DocumentDB Now?

Due to a licensing change at MongoDB, Amazon is no longer able to provide any RDS-type of MongoDB environment. Their solution is to provide a Mongo Query Language compatible environment in AWS, thus DocumentDB is from the GPL for MongoDB 3.6.

What Does MongoDB Have to Say About All This?

This debate represents another turning point in the ongoing battle between open source and commercialization. MongoDB’s CEO Dev Ittycheria responded to the news by saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s not surprising that Amazon would try to capitalize on the popularity and momentum of MongoDB. However, developers are savvy enough to distinguish between the real thing and a poor imitation.”

What Are the Numbers That Matter?

AWS can now offer developers storage scalability from 10GB up to 64TB in increments of 10GB, with no need to preallocate storage or monitor free space. In terms of performance, as mentioned above, you now have access to millions of reads per second with millisecond latency. In terms of reliability, the built-in 6-way storage replication ensures the kind of maximum availability that users demand. On top of that, you get AWS database support, which means everything is fully managed, with built-in monitoring, fault detection, and failover. In terms of securing the cloud, AWS gives you the ability to encrypt active data, snapshots, and replicas with the KMS key of your choice.

How Does MongoDB Atlas Compare to DocumentDB?

The whole question rests on how much freedom matters to your developers. MongoDB Atlas is actually free, at its lowest tier. The lowest AWS DocumentDB can go is $200/month plus I/O. In a larger sense, the question is whether open source matters. DocumentDB means locking into the AWS ecosystem, while MongoDB Atlas or Cloud Manager go anywhere, such as Azure or Google Cloud. It takes a careful review of DocumentDB’s supported APIs, operations and data types to find any differences, so you may need expert advice before making the jump to AWS if that’s the way you decide to go.

Can’t You Just Sum It Up?

AWS database support already included instances of relational, key-value, in-memory, graph, time series, and ledger databases. Now, with DocumentDB, they are going after the market for Big Data, rapid scalability, high-speed logging and mobile applications in a big way. Open source proponents are worried about what this means for MongoDB, but AWS clients are delighted to gain maximum availability and flexibility along with everything else the Amazon cloud offers. Ready to make the move? Contact us today to explore your migration options.

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