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Reporting back from MongoDB World 2014, NYC, Planet JSON

Closely approaching the one year mark of when I first joined MongoLab (and the MongoDB community), I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural MongoDB World conference put together by the incredible MongoDB team. Second only to the excitement around major MongoDB feature announcements was the collective disbelief that this was MongoDB’s first multi-day conference ever.  A big congratulations to all those that worked hard to put on such a massive (did you see the Intrepid!?) event. All this planning would have been for naught if MongoDB leaders and engineers failed to deliver announcements and features that would meet and exceed expectations. From major public cloud announcements to the reveal of document-level locking in version 2.8, developers and conference goers had plenty to be excited about. There was a lot to digest from the conference… we’ll cover the major highlights in case you missed them. Continue Reading →

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MongoSF 2013 : scaling the hyperbola of evolution with MongoDB

Palace Hotel lobby, c. 1930

Palace Hotel, c. 1930

You know, I attend a fair number of MongoDB events, and frankly I keep expecting them to get stale. But after being at MongoSF this past Friday, I’m happy to say it hasn’t happened yet. The growth and vigor of the Mongo ecosystem was everywhere apparent, and it has never been more encouraging. Our sincere thanks go out to the 10gen team for putting together another fabulous and informative event.

If you were there and managed to stop by MongoLab’s table in the exhibit hall of the super-elegant Palace Hotel, then thanks! It was nice to meet you and/or see you again! Hope you got as much out of the day as we did. If you didn’t — or if you’d just like my personal take on the whole thing — well, please read on.

Ecosystem predicts viability

Setting aside any of the relative merits of MongoDB as a database for just a moment, I have to say my top takeaway continues to be amazement at the size and enthusiasm of the community around MongoDB.

[I]f an organism or aggregate of organisms sets to work with a focus on its own survival and thinks that that is the way to select its adaptive moves, its “progress” ends up with a destroyed environment. If the organism ends up destroying its environment, it has in fact destroyed itself. … The unit of survival is a flexible organism-in-its-environment.” [1]

History is littered with the scarcely recognizable fossils of good ideas, clever inventions, and even superior products that might have flourished save for one thing: adoption. The modern proving ground for technological species looks less and less like the traditional “marketplace” with pockets of asymmetric information and discrete “deals.”  Today, the landscape has evolved to include open-source transparency, synergies of technologies and ideas, and a globally interconnected (and often, informed) fabric of opinion. A vigorous ongoing conversation (and overlap!) among diversified populations of users and developers is now the surest predictor, I believe, of long-term survival.

So, more than the database technology (which is impressive) or the well-capitalized company devoted to developing it (which is formidable), it is the people and the strength of this community that inspire my confidence that MongoDB will continue to thrive, improving and growing in popularity as a viable or even preëminent database for an ever increasing number of applications.

MongoDB: the Next Generation

Eliot Horowitz, 10gen CTO & Co-founder, kicked things off on a strong note, clearly articulating his focus for the immediate future of MongoDB. In my opinion, these are exactly the right priorities for taking the platform to the next level:

  • Maturity
  • Innovation
  • Operations

If you peer into its internals today, you’ll see the evolutionary legacy of MongoDB: steadily improving and expanding functionality, accreted around a core of pragmatic and sometimes downright scrappy engineering — just what you might expect from a small, clever team with a product rapidly establishing itself in the marketplace. But many of the expedients that accelerate a large piece of software in the short term can eventually bog down development and become obstacles to its further progress. You want a larger team to be able to add and maintain a growing number of features, without commensurate increases in code complexity. At some point, once experience has shown where the grain boundaries lie, there comes a time to refactor (not reinvent!) the core, teasing out clear and minimal abstraction contracts that the new implementations of existing and future features can target.

This engineering story arc is not lost on Eliot. Cleaner factoring, he explains, will be a a key enabler to efficiently deliver capabilities that MongoDB has needed for a long time, to make it a more “mature,” fully-featured general purpose database. It will also form the groundwork for innovating and building on the strengths of MongoDB as a data substrate for modern applications. Specific examples Eliot mentioned included:

  • non-constant query constraints — e.g., find all documents where the values of fields “a” and “b” are equal.
  • inline aggregation operations — e.g., update each document to set its “total” field to the sum of the “dollarAmt” field of each element of its “lineItems” array.
  • index intersections — e.g., optimize a query like {a: 3, b: 6} by dynamically combining an index on “a” with an index on “b” to yield performance comparable to what today would require an explicit compound index comprising both fields.

So that’s the broad story around Maturity and Innovation — right on. What about the third item: Operations? This of course refers to the realities of keeping a database running and available behind a production system of any kind. Happily, there is another three-item list here:

  • Monitoring
  • Backups
  • Management

Eliot spoke to 10gen’s efforts on each of these facets: MMS, which became available some 18 months ago; the remote backup service, which is in Limited Release now; and a suite of management tools to be announced later this year.

Of course, the topic of production-class operations is near to our hearts: seamlessly handling these three facets for our customers is what MongoLab is all about!

You got your lagerstätten in my Burgess Shale!

Opabinia

Opabinia, c. 505,000,000 BC

Max Schireson, the 10gen CEO who claims to have been born the same year as the relational database, followed up with a pointedly evolutionary perspective on database technologies. He compared today’s landscape to the early part of the Cambrian Explosion, in which biodiversity increased by orders of magnitude in a small fraction of the total history of life on earth up to that point. Of course, the unstated implication was that hitherto more “established” databases (Oracle, MySQL) were the long-dominant single-celled organisms in this analogy, whereas MongoDB would be perhaps more like a sighted predator of some kind.

Schireson quoted some consumption figures from the top of the food chain (e.g., 3 of the top 10 global investment bank use MongoDB) and noted some recent shifts in environmental pressures (e.g., developer-driven decision making).  He also cited an amusing factoid: prior to this year’s report, the last Gartner Research update on databse technology came out in 2003. That’s right: a full ten years ago. Something new must be going on. (Can you guess what?)

In short, Schireson made it sound like a pretty exciting time to be in databases, with MongoDB figuring prominently on the changing landscape.

Okay, now back to your niche…

After this inspiring keynote, of course, there followed a full day of stimulating talks and sessions at all levels of the mongo-guru ladder — oceans of fresh, insightful, useful stuff.

My personal favorite was probably the session led by Charity Majors, who is responsible for the MongoDB servers at the heart of Parse.com. If you were lucky enough to catch her outstanding talk on the care and feeding of a grown-up mongo deployment, you’ll know that there’s a whole host of operational issues that you’d just rather not worry about — or at the very least, you’d very much like an experienced hand at the helm when you do. Why do I say her talk was outstanding? Because that stuff is our bread and butter. It’s what we do all day every day here at MongoLab: hook you up with the database of tomorrow, so you can use more of your energy to dominate YOUR product’s ecological niche today, and still get a good night’s sleep (assuming your species isn’t nocturnal).

There’s never been a richer ecosystem, or a better time to be a database consumer. And there are more reasons than ever today for your consumption preferences to be of the MongoDB phyla. Yummy! Why not try one right now?

T. Dampier, 2013-05-11

Notes

[1] Source: Gregory Bateson, “Form, Substance and Difference”, 19th Annual Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, 9 Januiary 1970, Oceanic Institute, Hawaii. From the book Ecology and Consciousness, edited by Richard Grossinger, North Atlantic Books, 1978. p. 32.

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MongoLab at PyCon US 2013

PyCon 2013

MongoLab is psyched to sponsor PyCon US 2013!  We’ll be at booth #246 during the expo days, March 15-16, at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Being pragmatists, we’re fans of getting things done.  Python is often accused of letting you do just that, and you may have noticed that Python is our language of choice for our open source projects dex and mongoctl.  We also use Python to build a lot of our internal automation tools.  We’re looking forward to meeting other Pythonistas and sharing a bit about how we use MongoDB and Python together.

Hope to see you there!

Team MongoLab

Automated Slow Query Analysis: Dex recorded presentation from MongoSV 2012

Automated Slow Query Analysis: Dex the Index Robot

On December 4th, MongoLab engineer Eric Sedor presented about “Automated Slow Query Analysis: Dex the Index Robot” at MongoSV 2012, an annual one-day conference in Silicon Valley, CA, dedicated to the open source, non-relational database MongoDB.

A well-indexed query improves performance by several orders of magnitude. The trick is to identify an ideal set of indexes for a particular use case. Even for experts, hand-crawling MongoDB log for slow queries is a laborious process. Introducing Dex: an open-source automated tool for analyzing the slow query log or system.profile collection. Dex’s primary author Eric Sedor demonstrates Dex’s usage and elaborates on indexing topics from the basic to the advanced. Includes how to pick indexes in an elegant, practical way. You learn how Dex categorizes slow queries and recommends indexes to help keep your application running smoothly. Eric is an engineer at MongoLab, cloud-hoster of MongoDB, where Dex is used daily to optimize customer indexes.

Check out the recording below and please be sure to check out 10gen’s page for the presentation which has links to Speaker Deck slides and an alternate video link.

Here’s Dex’s github page, and the latest version (0.5) announcement

MongoLab sponsors Node Knockout hackathon 2012


We’re fans of Node.js and so we’re happy to be sponsoring the Node Knockout 48-hour hackathon and to be providing two prizes!

We host MongoDB at JoyentCloud with 500MB free plans.  JoyentCloud is where Nodejitsu hosts Node Knockout apps.  If you select JoyentCloud’s us-east-1 (Virgina) datacenter, you’ll have a low latency connection between your Node Knockout app and your database.

Instructions on how to provision a MongoLab server on the JoyentCloud (UPDATED):

  1. “npm update -g jitsu” OR “npm install -g jitsu”
  2. “jitsu databases create mongo”

We’ll have a person on-site at Joyent’s San Francisco headquarters for the kickoff on Nov 9.  As always, we have engineers at support@mongolab.com at the ready to answer questions.

We are offering the winners of the Team category and the Innovation category each a dedicated replica-set cluster with 2 GB RAM for 6 months.  May the best apps win!

updates: 2012-11-09 clarification on prizes, official Node Knockout URL added.  Old draft URL here: https://gist.github.com/4042395.  Updated instructions.

MongoLab Discount for JS.everywhere() 2012

MongoLab is happy to be sponsoring the JS.everywhere() conference in Silicon Valley at the end of October. If you’re interested in joining us, please use this discount code on the registration page: “mongolabJS”.  You’ll get 50% discount on attendance. We are looking forward to seeing you there.

MongoDB’s native support for JSON of course makes it a natural fit to work with Javascript.  Javascript’s growing popularity beyond browser clients is driving the need for a scalable JSON persistence layer.  Having that cloud persistence layer at MongoLab, we get to see many interesting new projects in enterprises large and small.  So we’re excited to be reaching out to meet new users.

Details on our events page:

URL: http://www.jseverywhere.org/
Registration URL: http://jse2012.eventbrite.com/
Discount Code: mongolabJS
Dates: October 26-27, 2012
Location: San Jose, CA

Nodestack


We’re excited be part of the Oct 17 Nodestack.org online conference with Joyent, Clock Ltd, 10gen, and Nodejitsu.

What is Nodestack?

If you’re a Web developer you may have felt the same thing in the last year or so: Javascript is winning. More precisely, Joyent’s Node.js, supported by 10gen’s JSON-centric MongoDB database for persistence is winning. And by using SmartOS as the host for Node.js, Joyent offers the inspectability, performance, and debuggability capabilities of DTrace and ZFS to Nodestack.

Parochially, I’ve included a Google Trends widget above comparing “node”, “ruby”, and “java” when searched with “mongodb”. As of this writing, “node” had just crossed “ruby”s trend line and was headed up to challenge “java”.

Why Nodestack?

There are many reasons why Nodestack is emerging as a leading developer choice, including:

  • developer familiarity with Javascript from front-end browser domains
  • the battle-tested underlying Google V8 Javascript engine for high performance
  • a harmonious non-blocking asynchronous IO environment resulting in efficient CPU utilization
  • good fitness for demanding near real-time dynamic web and mobile applications
  • effortless JSON-awareness across the stack means fewer developer cycles wasted on data translation
  • a well-supported package management system with growing library of components for basic and advanced needs
  • a deep-bench ecosystem of infrastructure, platform and consulting services from vendors like Joyent Cloud, Nodejitsu and Clock Ltd. for even easier design, development, and production.
  • mdb_v8, DTrace and flame graphs (visual temporal call graphs) on SmartOS for fast root-cause analysis / debugging.

Nodestack Conference

At the Oct 17 online conference, you’ll talk with:

  • Nodejitsu’s Nuno Job on “Crazy, Cool Things You can do with Node.js”
  • 10gen’s Aaron Heckmann on “Node.js + MongoDB = Love” and why these technologies fit so well together.
  • Joyent’s Bryan Cantrill on “Stack Foundation = SmartOS” on SmartOS’ hypervisor benefits for Nodestack including flexibility for KVM virtualization
  • A panel including 10gen’s Jared Rosoff, Joyent’s Jason Hoffman, Clock Ltd’s Paul Serby and yours truly on the economic benefits of Nodestack.

So please sign up here to join us. The webcast is scheduled to start at 9am PT on Oct 17, 2012.

*If you are local in San Francisco, CA, we’re also inviting a few folks to join us as part of the studio audience. Email ben at mongolab dot com if you’re interested. See our Events page for other events.

Updated: 2012-09-28 with exact start time. Grammar fix ^less^fewer. Added link to Aaron’s preview post; mdb_v8, David Pacheo deck.

2012-10-01 fixed broken SmartOS link.

MongoSeattle 2012 with talk on Dex

(update: slide deck here https://speakerdeck.com/u/ericsedor/p/dex-the-index-bot)

We’re attending and sponsoring MongoSeattle 2012 on September 14!  Eric Sedor will be presenting his recent work on Automated Slow Query Analysis: Dex the Index Robot our open source tool at 11:30am in the “Sound” hall.  Source code and instructions available here on github.

We’ll have our booth to talk to folks about our MongoDB offering in the cloud and with PaaS providers.

Location: Bell Harbor International Conference Centerq 2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66, Seattle, WA 98121 206.441.6666

Registration: here.

We have a few community discount passes left.  Email ben at mongolab.com if you’re interested.