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With the replatforming of MongoDB in its rearview mirror, the company is now seeking to grab a piece of the cloud hosting pie, which until now has been the domain of third parties. After two to three months of closed preview, MongoDB is starting the rollout of its own database-as-a-service (DBaaS), which is branded as Atlas. It is entering with aggressive pricing to draw in larger deployments. Beyond the obvious home-court advantage (MongoDB runs the MongoDB database open source project), MongoDB is positioning Atlas as a more scalable service that provides more enterprise-grade replication, backup, and disaster recovery options. We expect this will shake up a market that until now has been comprised of three independent providers.

It finally happened

Until now, MongoDB, the company, has approached the cloud as the means for deploying peripheral product-support and product management–related services. It offered Cloud Manager, a cloud-based service for monitoring and backing up customer deployments, but it has not gone the rest of the way in offering a full-blown DBaaS. It is not for lack of demand; the company believes that up to 75% of the estimated 300,000-strong global production base (most of which is the free open source download) is running in the cloud. And it already has about 50,000 customers for Cloud Manager and a subset of that base for its automated cloud backup service. But until now, if users wanted to run MongoDB in the cloud, they could either procure space from a cloud hosting provider and run it themselves, or subscribe to third-party MongoDB-as-a-service cloud providers such as ObjectRocket (on Rackspace), mLab, or Compose (formerly MongoHQ, now owned by IBM). The obvious question was when MongoDB would finally claim a piece of this business for itself.

MongoDB, the company, was preoccupied with migrating the core platform to the more scalable, robust WiredTiger storage engine. But with the bulk of the paid installed base migrated, the company could shift its attentions. After a private preview that drew roughly a thousand paying customers, MongoDB just announced general availability of Atlas, its new DBaaS service, at its annual MongoDB World user conference in New York. Atlas will initially run on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, starting with North America and then rolling out to other regions; release on Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Platform in various regions will come later. Because Atlas is a vendor-led open source project, MongoDB claims that Atlas customers will have faster access to the latest versions of the platform. MongoDB also differentiates Atlas with support of sharding, more flexibility regarding the number of replicas maintained for disaster recovery, and continuous point-in-time backups. As for pricing, this is an area where we expect heavy competition as third parties counter MongoDB's home-court advantage. For now, MongoDB claims that its pricing will be up to 5x cheaper for instances exceeding a few hundred gigabytes, but we expect rival pricing will be fluid. As an open source project, MongoDB's advantage in the long run will depend on the uniqueness of the cloud management, performance optimization, and security features that are outside the core platform.


Further reading

"MongoDB 3.0 makes the database extensible," IT0014-002984 (February 2015)

What's the Appeal of JSON Document Databases? IT0014-002931 (July 2014)


Tony Baer, Principal Analyst, Information Management

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