10gen CEO: Why we're the NoSQL leader

An interview with Dwight Merriman examines the genesis of MongoDB, the first popular document database -- and where the dynamic NoSQL trend will go from here

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Q: A while ago, Andrew Oliver, one of our contributors, wrote an article called "Ill-informed haters go after MongoDB." His point was that due to the popularity of MongoDB a lot of unrealistic expectations were raised. Where do you think some of that backlash came from?

A: We did see some of that, especially a year ago, but a lot less lately. I think it's a combination of the product getting better and the knowledge base of developers in the world increasing constantly. All the best practices and design patterns that are good for MongoDB, the best ways to use it in a design, are not going to be automatic. With MongoDB it's very easy to get started, so I think there's a little bit of temptation to dive in and read how to fly the airplane, but we see less of that now.

In the spirit of that, in the fall, we launched MongoDB free online education classes, which are these kind of massive online open course model-type classes, kind of similar to a Coursera or the Stanford classes, and it went really well. After two weeks we had 30,000 enrollment in that semester for those two classes we did. We did a developer class and a DBA class, and they were super well received and there was tons of participation. We're just beginning semester two now. We're doing a new class for Java developers. If you put information in people's hands you can help them be successful.

Q: Do you hire your best students?

A: Yeah, we'd like to.

Q: It's getting to be a pretty competitive landscape out there, with Couchbase's offering a document database version. What's your strategy in competing in such a chaotic, fast-growing area?

A: It feels a little bit to me like the early days of relational bases, where you had Oracle and Sybase and...

Q: Right. You don't want to be Sybase.

A: Yeah. But it's early days. There's lots of competition and lots of big projects and companies are doing really well and growing superfast. The most unique thing about MongoDB is the combination of scale with developer productivity: scalability and agility. I think we're unique in giving you both at the same time.

Q: Who do you find that you actually compete with?

A: Cassandra, Couchbase, and HBase would be the first three that come to mind.

Q: Do you see Oracle NoSQL at all?

A: I don't see it.

Q: One last question. What should we expect from 10gen in 2013?

A: We're the makers of MongoDB. Every time we do a big release, we increment by 0.2; there'll be a 2.4 release coming soon, then a 2.6 release. We're doing some work in the area of full-text search. We're adding a lot of new security features, along with lots and lots of performance-tuning features. Improved cluster management for very large clusters is something else we're working on. If you have a 500-server cluster, MongoDB is pretty easy to administer, but when you multiply times 500, that's quite a bit of work, and we want to make sure that's as easy as possible. Those are some of the things we'll be releasing over the next 12 months.

This article, "10gen CEO: Why we're the NoSQL leader," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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