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January 10, 2019updated 11 Jan 2019 9:53am

MongoDB Lets Rip at AWS After Amazon’s DocumentDB Launch

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, says MongoDB

By CBR Staff Writer

AWS has launched a fully managed document database service, Amazon DocumentDB that supports MongoDB workloads, with instance prices starting at $0.277.

The company said it was launching the service – which aims to poach customers away from New York-based MongoDB’s own offering – as its users found MongoDB’s database service “challenging” to build highly available and scalable applications on.

The release – the latest instance of a cloud provider controversially packaging open source-based offerings into a managed service – was immediately derided by MongoDB as “an incomplete imitation” of its own database service Atlas.

What is MongoDB Again?

MongoDB and DocumentDB are non-relational databases that store documents in flexible, binary representations called BSON (Binary JSON). This means fields can vary from document to document and data structure can be changed over time; as opposed to relational database management system like Oracle’s MySQL, which store data in tables and use structured query language for database access.

Read this: Is It Time for Cloud Native Open Source?

Amazon DocumentDB, released this week, uses MongoDB’s 2017 open source-licensed 3.6 API to ape the responses that a MongoDB client expects from a MongoDB server. This allows customers to use their existing MongoDB drivers, AWS said.

(MongoDB itself is now on 4.0 and is no longer fully open source, precisely because it didn’t want cloud providers to keep doing this kind of thing… )

Amazon: MongoDB is Challenging, Doesn’t Scale Well

Developers can use the same MongoDB application code, drivers, and tools as they do today to run, manage, and scale workloads on Amazon DocumentDB, AWS claimed.

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Its offering automatically scales up to 64TB of data per cluster, so customers don’t need to worry about capacity planning, Shawn Bice, AWS VP of non-relational databases, said in a release on Wednesday. (“Enjoy improved performance, scalability, and availability without having to worry about managing the underlying infrastructure.”)

He added: “Customers spend a lot of time and expense managing MongoDB clusters at scale, including dealing with the undifferentiated heavy lifting of securing, patching, and operating MongoDB. Amazon DocumentDB achieves twice the throughput of currently available MongoDB solutions.”

“Additionally, with Amazon DocumentDB’s architecture, the storage and compute are decoupled, allowing each to scale independently, and developers can increase the read capacity to millions of requests per second by adding up to 15 low latency read replicas in minutes, regardless of data size.”

Amazon DocumentDB: A Pale Imitation of the Real Thing, or More Powerful, Faster?

A MongoDB spokesman told Computer Business Review: “Customers want the real thing rather than some feature-limited imitation, and no customer is demanding to be locked into a single vendor’s ecosystem… Our initial testing shows that DocumentDB has the same shortcomings in functionality as similar imitation products that have been on the market for years, and those have not slowed the growth of MongoDB.”

“Important recent MongoDB features such as multi-document ACID transactions, change streams and global clusters are all absent, as are a host of older core capabilities, such as joins and even schema  support–features MongoDB has had for years. Ironically, while it was the massive popularity and momentum of MongoDB that drove AWS to make this announcement, we believe this announcement will only… drive other AWS customers to the real MongoDB global cloud database, MongoDB Atlas.”

mongodb, amazon documentdbMongoDB just three months ago changed its licensing structure in a bid to prevent cloud platform providers from offering managed services of its tools.

Read this: Meet the Apache Software Foundation’s Top 5 Code Committers

As Eliot Horowitz CTO and co-founder of MongoDB commented at the time: “Unfortunately, once an open source project becomes interesting, it is too easy for cloud vendors who have not developed the software to capture all of the value while contributing little back to the community.”

AWS’s launch comes approximately six weeks after it also launched a managed version of the open source data streaming tool Apache Kafka, which it also described as “challenging to setup, scale, and manage in production.”

Critics say it is poaching open source-based products without giving back to the OSS community.

See also: AWS Launches Managed Kafka: Is It “Strip Mining” Open Source?

MongoDB’s database is used by enterprises such as Adobe, Cisco and KPMG.

Three months ago MongoDB changed their licensing agreements from a GNU AGPLv3, (companies who wish to use their code for commercial reasons should open source their software), to a Server Side Public License (SSPL).

The SSPL stipulates clearly that anyone who wants to use MongoDB as a service needs to get a commercial license from MongoDB, or, “if you make the functionality of the program or a modified version available to third parties as a service, you must make the Service Source Code available via network download to everyone at no charge, under the terms of this License.”

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