Q&A with Steve Francia of 10gen

By Steve Francia (Profile)
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Wednesday, August 15th 2012
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VSM: Before we begin, can you tell us about MongoDB?

SF: MongoDB is an open-source NoSQL or non-relational database. Unlike relational databases, a record in MongoDB is modeled after a programming object so it maps really well to modern object oriented programming like Java, Ruby, .net and PHP. 10gen began developing MongoDB in 2007 and it’s grown quite a bit since then. It’s currently used by a lot of household names, including thousands of leading Web 2.0 companies as well as major enterprises such as Cisco, Craigslist, Disney Interactive Media Group, Foursquare, Intuit, The New York Times, MTV Networks, SAP and eBay.

VSM: What makes MongoDB stand out?

SF: It’s rare to have a product that is optimized for both developer productivity and scale. Most sacrifice one for the other. The beauty of MongoDB is that it’s really easy to get started with it and when the need arises for more capacity it’s even easier to scale. It’s really the only product on the market that addresses both needs, and as a result adoption is viral. A proof point of MongoDB’s popularity is job listings. The graphic below (featured on a popular job engine website Indeed.com) shows that job searches and job profiles with the word “MongoDB” in them have skyrocketed in the past couple years, and MongoDB searches are more popular than those for Android, Hadoop and iOS.

VSM: How was 10gen founded?

SF: Dwight Merriman and Eliot Horowitz – two veterans of application service provider DoubleClick -- started 10gen and developed MongoDB in 2007. Merriman and Horowitz wanted to create a modern database to solve contemporary development and IT problems that traditional databases cannot. With the rise of cloud computing, social and “big data” companies needed a way to store, manage and process massive volumes of data. Developers building new cloud and mobile applications need a database that can scale to manage peak and unpredictable traffic spikes, and that can handle service interruptions gracefully. MongoDB runs well on commodity hardware or in a virtual environment, and is a very attractive, cost-efficient database alternative for web, cloud and mobile applications that generate large volumes of data and support unpredictable traffic levels. In short, MongoDB simplifies development.

VSM: Who is 10gen’s competition?

SF: There are a lot of players in the database space, but as I mentioned earlier, none that are taking the same approach that we are. Of course you can’t ignore Oracle, but fundamentally we don’t see any as a direct competitor. Rather than being driven by a direct competitor, we are motivated by the challenge to change the status quo that’s lasted for the past 40 years and make the world a better place. It’s fundamental to our mission and one of the primary reasons we are open source. Over the past 3 years we’ve seen some amazing things happen as a result of the software we’ve built from indexing historic archives, to building a better family tree, to humanitarian efforts.