How Database as a Service Boosts Front-End Development

When MongoDB launched Atlas, its managed database-as-a-service offering, six years ago, managed cloud databases were still a hard sell to about half of business executives with legacy systems, a said Andrew Davidson, who oversees Atlas as senior product president.

“Probably two years into our Atlas journey – so four years ago – I hardly felt like I even had to have the elevator and gearshift conversation,” he said. declared.

Back then, companies moved data to the cloud but still managed databases in virtual machines that ran on public cloud infrastructure, he said.

“What they quickly realized was that they weren’t really benefiting from migrating to the cloud,” Davidson told The New Stack. Yes, they were in the cloud, but they were managing a bunch of virtual machines and that created unnecessary complexity, he explained.

“In a self-managed paradigm, whether it’s on-premises or in the public cloud, you always have layers of that iceberg under the waves that you might not think of at first glance,” he said.

Cloud not so simple

A layer above virtual machines or bare metal resources, companies managed the distribution system over the many compute resources, he said. And a layer above that, they had to manage the operating systems that relied on each of those compute resources. Another added layer became the database software, which also needed to be maintained, patched, and managed. It took a lot of DevOps muscle to handle that, he added.

But as MongoDB, Amazon Web Services, Google, Azure, and others began offering managed databases and telling a similar story, organizations began to embrace the idea of ​​managed databases as a service. , did he declare.

Now MongoDB Atlas has 150,000 signups every month, he said, of which 100,000 are rolling out to the free tier because they’re building small apps or learning.

Data has always been the hardest part of IT systems to manage, from security to data lifecycle management, Davidson said. Having a vendor with dedicated database management experience makes sense for many organizations, he said.

The benefits for front-end developers

Developers, in particular, have realized the benefits of databases as a service, Davidson said.

“You can use a database service that lets you manage all the plumbing securely, making sure you use encryption everywhere, making sure you use authentication everywhere,” he said. . “Then, as a frontend developer, you can build by focusing a lot more on what differentiates your app from your competitors, and spending a lot less of your scarce energies on all those layers of plumbing”

MongoDB differentiates itself from its competitors with its document database model, which it pioneered and which, according to Davidson, is “built natively for developers to allow them to go faster than ever before”.

The document database uses JSON, explained Tony Baer, ​​founder and CEO of data management research firm dbInsight.

“It really liberated the developers,” Baer told TNS. “You look at MongoDB, which has come up with great developer tools for their database, and then their second act was to come up with a really great user experience in the cloud. And that’s really the secret to their success. is why the document database is so popular with developers and why MongoDB just killed it.

The document data model is easier for developers than relational databases, which require developers to manage the database with key value stores and search engines, Davidson said.

“All of a sudden, you had to learn to deal with three different things. They can be provided as a service or you manage three different services,” Davidson said. “Each has a different API and type of lifecycle management that you need to learn to specialize in as a builder or developer. And they’ll tell you that’s what you want to do, they’ll try to convince you that it’s a good thing.

How MongoDB differentiates itself

Davidson argued that this approach of other vendors leads to a fractured developer experience across services, as developers add layers of services, such as caching, to improve speed or other “plumbings”, did he declare.

“Going back, what you find yourself in, if you naively adopt tons of managed services, is that you can still have this complicated proliferation,” he said. “It can get shaky because you’re syncing data across all these different services. And frankly, you can find yourself a little boxed in, because you rely on so many different things.

Overturning this experiment has been a key thesis for MongoDB with Atlas, he added.

“What we’ve tried to do is make sure that as a general-purpose document database that can express the full variety – rich, transactional use cases that you might traditionally have used a relational database, the full power of search, instead of having it requires a bolt to bring it as Atlas search,” he said.

It offers scalability and availability without the need for a key-value store, he added, “but without the drawbacks of giving up rich query capability.” It operates at a cache level, he explained, so developers can have it all in one system. It also helps developers avoid lock-in by providing a consistent experience across cloud providers, he noted.

This approach reduces developers’ workload and makes it easier to modify their applications without downtime, he said, which “allows for this incredible mass proliferation of people creating software and applications.”

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