10Gen, the developer behind MongoDB, lands $42 million in venture money to fund development of enterprise-oriented features and upgrades.
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"We're never certain what kind of data we'll be dealing with, but with MongoDB we can just dump it into the database and then very easily write proof-of-concept applications or develop analytics," said Deep Kapadia of New York Times Labs, which he described as the development incubator for the media company.
Kapadia demonstrated Cascade, a MongoDB-based application now in production use at The New York Times. The app tracks every Twitter tweet and retweet tied to each story published online by the news organization. Analysts, editors, and writers can then use a visual analysis interface to track traffic trends and uncover influencers.
For example, Cascade uncovered that tweets tied to the story "Mexican Youth March Against Old Ruling Party" skyrocketed after a well-known Mexican columnist with more than 100,000 followers tweeted about the story. This helps the news organization follow the hottest topics and spot potential sources tied to key issues.
To provide this insight, Cascade tracks the intersection of the fire hose feed of Twitter tweets and retweets with a custom Bit.ly stream of URLs for NYTimes stories. This big-data stream of all tweets and retweets related to times stories is then presented in tree-and-graph data visualization that shows trending topics and the tweets that spawn the most retweets.
MongoDB is "far easier than managing a MySQL cluster or an Oracle cluster," Kapadia said, noting that NYTimes Labs doesn't need a dedicated DBA to manage the product--developers can handle required administrative tasks in their spare time. In massive production settings, MongoDB administration might be a part-time job, Kapadia acknowledged.
Next steps for MongoDB include a 2.2 release set for this summer that will improve control over database concurrency. The release will also introduce an aggregation framework, for better ad-hoc query support, and location-aware sharding, a feature needed in multi-data-center deployments. All of the above are capabilities that 10Gen's most demanding customers are asking for, Schireson said. And it's the kind of development that this week's infusion of cash will support.
With Oracle and Amazon wading into the NoSQL game with the Oracle NoSQL Database and DynamoDB service, respectively, there are clearly bigger fish in the market--which is growing 21% per year and is expected to reach $3.8 billion in annual software and services revenue, according to Market Research Media. But Schireson says that the Oracle and Amazon products are closer to simple key-value store-style NoSQL databases that don't compete head on with MongoDB.
"What we support that key-value stores don't support is querying against lots of different fields," Schireson said, citing the example of an order management system. "With a key value store, you could query for a particular order, whereas with MongoDB, you could query for all orders placed by a particular customer that are more than a week old but that haven't shipped yet."
10Gen is a dwarf compared with the likes of Oracle, but with NoSQL adoption on the rise and MongoDB riding the wave, Schireson says he's optimistic that many more enterprises will give the database a try.
"Oracle had enormous resources and for the last couple of decades they've been a kind of default choice," said Schiereson, himself a former Oracle employee. "We'd like developers to think about what's the right fit for their project before they select a technology, and if they do, we think a lot of them will select MongoDB."
The database that has the most to lose from MongoDB and other NoSQL databases is MySQL, the open source database now owned by Oracle. MySQL has a large and dedicated following of developers, but it's a scale-constrained conventional database that's now growing much more slowly than the burgeoning, big-data friendly NoSQL community.
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