Carfax Selects MongoDB To Drive 11 Billion Records - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Software // Information Management
10:01 AM
Connect Directly

Carfax Selects MongoDB To Drive 11 Billion Records

Vehicle-history service switches to open source, NoSQL database with an eye to exploring its massive data set in new ways.

There's a 30-year-old relational database up on blocks at Carfax's Columbia, Mo., office.

On Tuesday, the Web service, which supplies used-vehicle history reports to millions of consumers and 30,000 dealerships every year, announced plans to retire its VMS-based RDBMS and switch to MongoDB, the open source, document-oriented database developed and supported by 10gen.

"VMS has been a very valuable OS for us," Carfax CTO Joedy Lenz told InformationWeek in a phone interview. "Unfortunately, with our data volumes, it became fairly expensive to operate and maintain." The production VMS system will be retired within 12 months, he said.

Carfax's Vehicle History Report, created in 1986, is the largest vehicle-history database ever assembled, with nearly 11.5 billion records and growing at 1 billion new records a year. It comprises information from more than 75,000 sources, such as U.S. and Canadian motor vehicle departments, service and repair facilities, insurance companies, and police departments.

[ For more on database vendors, see InformationWeek's Big Data 101: New Vendor-Neutral Guide. ]

When it takes over the driver's seat, the MongoDB will run across 50 servers. Lenz declined to name the hardware vendor. But 10gen CEO Max Schireson told InformationWeek on the phone: "Using inexpensive commodity servers means they can scale out," Schireson said.

While an open source product, 10gen claims some 500 customers worldwide who pay for its consulting and services. This customer list includes marquee Web brands like eBay and Craigslist, but traditional businesses as well, including three of the top 10 global banks and telcos, among others.

Another advantage of using MongoDB is its built-in redundancy. If a node fails, work is picked up by one or more secondary nodes.

In fact, Carfax already uses a seven-node VMS system. However, Lenz shared that in early performance testing, MongoDB ran transactions up to four times faster. But speed and cost savings weren't the only reasons Carfax decided to migrate to a NoSQL architecture.

Unlike their relational predecessors, NoSQL databases like MongoDB, Cassandra and Riak use a flexible, schema-less design that is especially well suited for massive amounts of variable data.

"Mongo does [transaction processing] with the added benefit of analytics and data mining," he said. "The sky's the limit ... we're just scratching surface."

As NoSQL products like MongoDB win new adherents, relational database vendors haven't been sitting still. Just last month, Oracle announced a major upgrade, MySQL 5.6, which includes features for high-scale deployments. For example, Oracle announced it would support direct access to data through the Memcached API, which is up to nine times faster than accessing data through SQL parsing.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll