Oracle announced the availability of the Oracle Database API for MongoDB. This service enables enterprise organizations to realize the benefits of Oracle Autonomous Database without sacrificing or altering their MongoDB environments. If you are an enterprise IT organization looking to drive the most out of the data in your organization – this is important. And, if you are a developer looking to continue to leverage MongoDB while gaining access to Oracle’s multi-model database, this is welcome news.
This move by Oracle does a lot to help the company reposition itself as the open cloud platform that can support the entirety of the enterprise. And it will support the continued strong adoption of MongoDB in the enterprise application space. I'll cover this in the following few paragraphs.
First, the setup – valuable data comes in all formats
We live in a world ruled by data. Data drives the operations of the largest corporations and the lives of individuals. Further, data is generated everywhere and in many different formats. Many can remember the rise of big data some time back – NoSQL was the database format to support these many types of data.
NoSQL is an umbrella term that refers to several non-relational database categories. One of those categories – document-oriented stores is popular among application developers that want an easy way to store and use data in applications. Think about e-commerce sites with a catalog of products – or an insurance company that easily stores insurance policies. These are use cases where a document database can be used effectively.
MongoDB is the most popular NoSQL document database. This popularity is partly due to the scale-out nature of MongoDB, partly due to the simplicity for app developers to integrate on the back-end, and partly due to its current position in the market.
The NoSQL family has been the cool kids of the database world for the last ten years, or so as big data took off. And MongoDB is the cool kid in those cool kids cliques. And for a good reason. It is easy to set up and use, is performant, and has good support across the industry.
But here’s the challenge. Enterprise organizations are not either/or when it comes to data management. The typical enterprise will have a variety of SQL and NoSQL data environments. And the data that resides in each of these data stores are valuable. Further, synthesizing the data across all data stores is critical to driving the digital business but not easy to do across the NoSQL-SQL chasm. It often requires a separate database and tools for analytics and moving data from one database to another.
Centralizing user management, ensuring the highest levels of security, and enabling access to all data for analysis are keys to success, again hard to do across the NoSQL-SQL chasm.
What was announced?
As mentioned, Oracle announced the availability of the Oracle Database API for MongoDB. But what exactly does this mean? First, it means that organizations can develop and run their MongoDB workloads in the Oracle Autonomous Database or Autonomous JSON Database using MongoDB tools and drivers by simply changing the connection string with an application to point to the Autonomous Database.
In the figure above, you can see Oracle's Autonomous Database, including three distinct optimizations – transaction processing and mixed workloads; analytics and data warehousing; and JSON document database. Through the Oracle Database API for MongoDB, an organization's MongoDB environment and associated data would reside in the JSON database or, if a customer prefers, any of the other Autonomous Database variants.
The significance of this is twofold. First, this bridges the tension between an IT organization tasked with managing and securing database environments and app dev groups that crave speed and simplicity in their processes. Application developers use the familiar tools, syntax, and schemas of MongoDB and benefit from the multi-model and automation of Autonomous Database, while IT hardens security for MongoDB collections and manages users centrally.
Second, utilizing Oracle Autonomous Database to stand up your MongoDB apps and data enables easier data sharing and analytics across the enterprise. And really, this is what matters to business users. As an analyst sitting in a business unit, I want to use my tried and true business intelligence (BI) tools to glean insights from my data regardless of where it resides or what format it’s in—document collections or relational tables. And this is the big win for customers - faster time to better-informed insights.
So, as you can see in the above figure, this service enables business users to access and analyze data generated from MongoDB-based applications through the SQL tools and solutions with which they are already familiar.
Bigger than an API
This announcement from Oracle is significant and delivers real benefits to the enterprise. No doubt. But to me, there's a bigger message – that is one of Oracle's transformation from a database company to a cloud company with world-class data management capabilities and equally world-class SaaS applications.
A few short years ago, Oracle was still banking on licensing fees from its RDMS offering. Every enterprise had (and likely still has) some Oracle footprint supporting a mission-critical application – and they were paying a significant royalty. Since that time, Oracle Cloud has taken off, designed from the ground up as a cloud service platform to customers of all sizes, with everything from automatic threat detection and remediation with the Autonomous Database to AI-injected SaaS applications for ERP, HCM, and CX.
If you wonder just how successful the company has been, check out this Oracle Cloud Lift Services announcement. Over 1,000 companies – a list of "who's who" moving workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
While the company is certainly not yet the size of AWS or Azure, I like its approach to the cloud. It is delivering on what it does best – data services. And it is doing so in an open and collaborative fashion. I suspect its approach will continue to see double-digit growth.
Talk to any enterprise developer about their database of choice, and MongoDB will be among the leaders. It ranks as the fifth most popular database platform and is overwhelmingly the most deployed NoSQL distribution in the market.
The popularity of MongoDB in the enterprise can create tension between the developers who love its simplicity and performance and IT folks that struggle with centralized management and the synthesizing of data across the enterprise.
Oracle's announcement relieves that tension, benefitting key stakeholders. Developers continue to utilize MongoDB; enterprise IT gains simplified management, and business users can now access and analyze all of the data across the enterprise from the tools they are accustomed to using.
In my view, Autonomous Database is the key to the API that MongoDB cannot match. Today, it provides what MongoDB application developers want to become more productive and make their lives easier: automation to reduce or eliminate manual tasks (tuning, patching, scaling, security, etc.) and in-database access to capabilities such as SQL for analytics, machine learning, and spatial graph.
Developer demand for these capabilities will inevitably force cloud database services to develop and offer them, but when? So far, MongoDB has not shown any signs of fully embracing automation and only a tiny step in including SQL. If you look at Oracle’s evolution, after forty years of experience in developing its mission-critical database, it culminated in the Autonomous Database; my guess is others will be playing catch up.
Based on a live e-commerce demo I saw of Oracle Database API for MongoDB, I imagine enterprise customers will realize the value of this offering. I will be curious to track adoption over the next couple of quarters.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.