10Gen, the company behind the popular open source MongoDB database, is about to move out of its maxed-out startup headquarters in Manhattan's trendy SoHo neighborhood and into spacious, newly renovated offices just off of Times Square in midtown.
The move is a perfect metaphor for a 10Gen/MongoDB move upscale. With the database gaining adoption among (and features aimed at) large and midsize corporations, the company is moving uptown (literally and figuratively) into more of a corporate neighborhood. With the release of MongoDB 2.4, announced Tuesday, the company also is introducing a commercial software edition that should help pay those pricey midtown rents.
10Gen already offered a subscriber edition as a way of selling its commercial support services. But MongoDB Enterprise, the new commercial edition, also includes proprietary security and database monitoring features aimed at midsize and larger organizations. The security is provided by Kerberos authentication, a protocol widely embraced by big companies.
"We tried very hard to correlate the Enterprise Edition features with things that only large enterprises would need and not things that three people in a garage doing a startup would need," company chairman Dwight Merriman told InformationWeek during an interview in 10Gen's soon-to-be-vacated SoHo office. "Kerberos support seemed like a very logical example of that."
[ Want more on 10Gen's latest big deployment? Read Carfax Selects MongoDB To Drive 11 Billion Records. ]
Customers added within the last six months by 10Gen have included top-tier investment and commercial banks and insurance companies, and they're deploying mission-critical applications, according to Merriman. (10Gen's co-founder, Merriman, is also moving up, having recently shifted from CEO to chairman. He said the move will allow him to continue to stay hands-on in developing the technology while new CEO Max Schireson, formerly president, will lead business operations.)
Missing from Merriman's large company versus three-person startup analysis are the many midsize companies that very likely would be interested in the on-premises monitoring software also included with MongoDB Enterprise. The company introduced a cloud-based MongoDB Monitoring Service (MMS) last year, but according to Kelly Stirman, 10Gen's director of product marketing, "almost every company" will want to deploy the on-premises monitoring software now available only in MongoDB Enterprise.
"Cloud monitoring is still free, and even if you're hosting Mongo yourself, you can use it to monitor the database," Merriman said. "We are selling the [on-premises] software, but I think people understand that it's pretty traditional to sell things like monitoring with an open source project."
10Gen competitors including Couchbase and Riak-database-backer Basho sometimes knock MongoDB as not highly scalable, but Stirman disputes those claims, citing deployments by customers including Disney, Craigslist, Carfax and Viber Media. Disney is said to be running 1,400 servers of MongoDB in a gaming application. Craigslist has a MongoDB document store holding some 5 billion documents. Carfax is storing 11 billion records. Viber Media is a European voice-over-IP company (like Skype) that supports some 18 million active users.
"The performance and scalability of MongoDB is one of its strengths, and customers deploying across racks and across data centers find that they can scale the system out very easily," Stirman said.
The upgrades to MongoDB 2.4 will no doubt appeal to customers whether they're using the commercial or open source software. New built-in text search capabilities, for example, give developers the basics -- or text searching in 15 languages that will be "good enough for many applications," according to Stirman, with the added benefit that text search is always up to date with the database indexes. More sophisticated search applications will continue to require separate and more sophisticated search engines such as Solr or Lucene, Stirman said.
10Gen introduced an aggregation framework with last year's MongoDB 2.2 release in order to support SQL-style analytics. That feature has proven to be very popular, and in version 2.4 supports three to five times faster querying than the previous version, Stirman said. The update also adds advanced geospatial analysis features aimed at oil and gas firms, government agencies and other organizations that demand precise distance calculations.
Hash-based sharding added with release 2.4 is aimed at high-scale deployments. MongoDB previously relied exclusively on range-based sharding, but that's not ideal if you don't have deep knowledge of your data and queries because you might not allocate resources appropriately when sharding the database. The hash-based approach ensures an even distribution of resources because all data is distributed evenly across the cluster.
The key appeal for all MongoDB customers is its "fall in love" ease of use, according to Stirman. The database's document model does away with complex joins and complex transactions. "We've passed the 4 million download threshold, the number of people using MongoDB is vastly larger than any other NoSQL technology, and developers can be enormously productive and get projects done," he concluded.