MongoDB held their fifth annual "DB Days" event in San Francisco earlier this month, featuring presentations from some of their bigger name partners and customers such as eBay, Teradata, and Rackspace, but they also provided further evidence that they are poised to take full advantage of the big data revolution.
The company is a document database and is one of the pioneers in the "NoSQL" movement. SQL or "structured query language," is the programming designed to manage large amounts of data, and since the early days of computers, this language has been used in relational databases. NoSQL is an alternative database technology and MongoDB has emerged as the highest-ranked non-relational system in the world.
It's not a household name, but the move of bigger companies in the past year to seek solutions for managing larger amounts of data has propelled it into the mainstream of the technology conversation. At their first global developers conference held last summer in New York, MongoDB users heard case studies from major players such as Citibank, Verizon, Forbes, and the British government.
"We are the provider of the core componentry that drives all kinds of production today," says Kelly Stirman, director of products for MongoDB.
The company was founded as 10gen in 2007. Both Microsoft and Google have added MongoDB's NoSQL as a managed service, and between 40 and 50 percent of Amazon Web Service customers access their database.
Stirman attributes the rise in sensor-driven networks that collect infinitely vast amounts of data as a key factor that is driving the need for more robust database management tools. "Everyone is trying to figure out how to make money off the data being captured," says the MongoDB executive.
One example of this trend can be found in the announcement earlier this year that MongoDB and Bosch had formed a partnership to develop new applications that will analyze data collected from sensors and other connected devices. It shows the growing interest in how document databases like MongoDB can play a role in the Internet of Things (IoT).
Another example involves managing the flow of city operations information for Chicago. The city runs a real-time geospatial platform called WindyGrid that captures emergency and non-emergency calls, crime statistics, building permit information, and up-to-the-minute location of government vehicles. MongoDB is now the data store for all of that information.
At the NoSQL Conference in San Jose, California last year, then MongoDB CEO Max Schireson delivered a presentation that described the frustration encountered by MetLife, one of the world's largest providers of insurance and employee benefits programs. The company had over 70 different systems to store their policy data and sought help from MongoDB. According to Schierson, his firm consolidated MetLife's systems into one in 90 days.
Schierson himself was not a presenter this month at the MongoDB event in San Francisco. That's because he voluntarily stepped down this fall in a highly publicized story of CEO fatigue. The top executive had been travelling constantly between MongoDB's headquarters in New York and office in Palo Alto. When the exhausted Schierson slept through an emergency landing during a cross-county flight, he decided it was time to make a change.
He was replaced by Dev Ittycheria, but the lead presenter this month in San Francisco was CTO and co-founder Eliot Horowitz. The MongoDB leader summed up the progress of his firm at the fifth annual gathering by saying, "We've come a very long way in the last five years, but there's still a very long way to go."
As the top non-relational database in the world, MongoDB has climbed a tough competitive ladder to be fifth overall. Undoubtedly their goal now is to make their NoSQL technology number one.