What all these young vendors have in common is that they're the backers of open-source NoSQL databases. As we explain in this week's digital issue cover story, "When NoSQL Makes Sense," these databases have it all over relational databases when it comes to scalability and flexibility. What's more, they promise faster, cheaper development than enterprise stalwarts IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Database. But as our headline suggests, NoSQL doesn't always make sense and will not take over the database market.
One of MongoDB's most prominent enterprise customers (along with Goldman Sachs) is MetLife, which recently launched a service- and research-oriented 360-degree view of customers called the MetLife Wall. MongoDB was used to combine crucial customer data from more than 70 legacy systems, but the database's document-oriented, schemaless design was the key to pulling the project off in just 90 days.
[ Here's how one startup plans to use big data to make hailing a taxi easier. Read Hailo Taxi App Taps NoSQL Analytics. ]
"When we built the Wall, we didn't spend $1 million and take months to do it; we spent $20,000 and built a prototype in two weeks," said MetLife Global Business CEO Gary Hoberman, speaking at last week's InformationWeek CIO Summit at Interop NY.
MetLife's latest use of MongoDB is a customer-facing mobile app called Infinity. Now available in the Apple and Andoid app stores, Infinity lets MetLife customers and potential customers upload critical documents, images, movies and other digital content that they can automatically share with designated people at some future date. It's a digital time capsule that could be used to send somebody a birthday greeting, to send yourself a future reminder of what you cared about when you were 30 or to send loved ones key documents and memories when you're gone -- a more obvious connection to the life insurance business.
One thing notable about the app is that it was dreamed up by IT, according to Hoberman. "We presented the idea to the business as a way to emotionally connect with customers," said Hoberman, who added that the MongoDB-based app is set to scale on Microsoft's Azure cloud.