AWS Challenges MongoDB with New Cloud-Based Database

The cloud provider says its DocumentDB delivers greater performance and scalability.

Jeffrey Burt

January 14, 2019

4 Min Read
Cloud Database

Amazon Web Services has unveiled a cloud-based NoSQL database offering that is compatible with various versions of the MongoDB open-source database tool. But this has put it into greater competition with the company of the same name that not only developed the code but also offers a version that can run on multiple public clouds, including AWS.

In announcing DocumentDB, AWS says the new database will enable developers to use the same MongoDB application code and tools, and customers to migrate their MongoDB databases from their on-premises environments or Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to DocumentDB while benefiting from better performance, scalability and availability.


AWS’ Jeff Barr

DocumentDB adds to the broad array of databases available on AWS that range from relational and in-memory to graph, ledger and key-value databases, according to Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS.

With DocumentDB, AWS is delivering a “fast, scalable, and highly available document database that is designed to be compatible with your existing MongoDB applications and tools. Amazon DocumentDB uses a purpose-built SSD-based storage layer, with 6x replication across three separate availability zones. The storage layer is distributed, fault-tolerant, and self-healing, giving you the performance, scalability and availability needed to run production-scale MongoDB workloads,” Barr wrote in a blog.

MongoDB was first developed in 2007 by a company called 10gen, then went open source in 2009, when the company changed its name to MongoDB. The company claims to have more than 6,600 customers in 100 countries and more than 1,000 employees. The MongoDB platform has been downloaded more than 40 million times.

The company, however, took a hit after the announcement of DocumentDB, with reports of its stock price falling nearly 7 percent on Jan. 9.


MongoDB’s Dev Ittycheria

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it’s not surprising that Amazon would try to capitalize on the popularity and momentum of MongoDB; however, developers are savvy enough to distinguish between the real thing and a poor imitation,” said MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria.

AWS has been criticized in the open-source community for using open-source code and putting its brand on top of it without contributing anything back. MongoDB offers cloud-based MongoDB Atlas, which can run not only AWS but also Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Company co-founder and CTO Eliot Horowitz reiterated to TechCrunch that AWS’ DocumentDB is a weak alternative to MongoDB.

“In order to give developers what they want, AWS has been pushed to offer an imitation MongoDB service that is based on the MongoDB code from two years ago,” Horowitz said in the article. “Our entire company is focused on one thing — giving developers the best way to work with data with the freedom to run anywhere. Our commitment to that single mission will continue to differentiate the real MongoDB from any imitation products that come along.”

AWS, the most dominant cloud provider, with more than 34 percent of the market, according to Synergy Research Group, continues to build out its service offerings as it looks to hold off such competitors as …

Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and Alibaba.

AWS says its customers use MongoDB to store and access semi-structured data, and while they like the MongoDB API and other features, including expressive language query, the complexity of managing MongoDB clusters makes it difficult to build applications that can scale to multiple terabytes and hundreds of thousands of reads and writes per second. Performance and availability also are challenges as the applications grow, they said.

DocumentDB is said to bring with it MongoDB while shoring up the shortcomings. The database uses the Apache 2.0 open-source MongoDB 3.6 API internally, though developers will need to ensure that the drivers they’re using are for MongoDB 3.4 or newer, AWS’ Barr wrote. Version 3.6 was released in late 2017. Version 4.0 was released last year. DocumentDB can automatically scale storage from 10GB to 64TB per cluster and because the storage and compute are decoupled, each can scale independently. Performance is improved by storing database changes as a log stream, and leverages six-way storage replication for high availability. It’s fully managed with monitoring, fault detection and failover built in. Customers can encrypt their active data, snapshots and replicas.

DocumentDB is available now in parts of the U.S., including Northern Virginia, Ohio and Oregon. It’s also available in Ireland.

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