Note: This article was originally published in March of 2015. A link was recently updated.
NoSQL databases have been embraced by early adopters of technology, trendy start-ups, and high-tech firms. Despite the promise of these new technologies, most enterprises have good reason to be wary of adopting them. Enterprises need confidence in reliability, a supply of skilled employees and great tools to ensure productivity. Two recent announcements by MongoDB and 3T could signal it’s time for a change.
Relational databases such as Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle have been at the heart of businesses for decades. The technology is robust and reliable and trusted to back many critical services such as financial transactions, and there’s a large pool of experienced professionals and excellent tools. So it isn't surprising that NoSQL, which lacks a long history and forgoes cornerstones of the relational database like ACID compliance, has been treated with skepticism in many quarters.
Nevertheless, NoSQL databases like MongoDB have been widely adopted because they offer important advantages over their relational cousins such as speed of development, the ability to scale-out, and superior performance on many workloads. Adoption is being driven by two factors: the push towards shorter development cycles from the Agile & DevOps movements, and the increasing volumes of data that companies are having to deal with.
MongoDB’s reimagining of the solution to age-old problems has won over many fans and early adopters, who have been prepared to face a steep learning curve using basic tools. A lot of them have been trying to follow Amazon’s example, which kicked off the move from relational databases when it developed the highly-available key-value store, Dynamo, to resolve a latency issue on its website, and gained significant advantages over its competitors.
Companies putting their faith in NoSQL technologies have been rewarded time and again with a competitive edge. The upsides are impressive and many enterprises have looked longingly from the sidelines, but stricter corporate governance and the necessity to be more conservative in technology choices have held them back. While the enthusiastic early adopters of this new NoSQL world have been content to explore the possibilities of non-relational databases using command lines, enterprises want the reassurance of practical tools they can depend on.
This difference between appealing to early-adopters and to the mainstream is described by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm. He argues that there is a chasm between the adoption of a product by visionary early-adopters and the more pragmatic majority. Crossing the chasm marks the mainstream’s readiness to adopt the new technology. In the last two weeks, there have been two announcements that signal MongoDB is ready for mainstream adoption.
This week, well known SQL Server tool vendor Redgate, announced in a recent press release that it's investing serious money in NoSQL tool startup, 3T Software Labs. 3T’s best-known tool is Studio 3T a GUI for MongoDB (formerly known as MongoChef) that allows any MongoDB data type to be edited with ease. The combination of Redgate’s experience and background in ingeniously simple tools and 3T’s passion for MongoDB will be a force to be reckoned with. This should give IT managers the confidence to invest in MongoDB and the right tools for their workforce.
Simon Galbraith, CEO of Redgate, compares 3T to PagerDuty and explains that the decision was an easy one. “3T Software Labs are doing in the NoSQL market what we've been doing in the SQL market for years — and they're doing it extremely well. We're investing in them because we can use our long experience to help them do more, faster, in a market that's growing for both of us.”
And this week, MongoDB announced the release of v3.0. This builds on MongoDB’s now mature platform and introduces new management tools and Wired Tiger, a storage engine with the performance and features enterprises demand. [Studio 3T] is one of the only user interfaces that already supports MongoDB v3.0.
With various sources predicting that the amount of data being generated worldwide will reach 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020 — a tenfold increase on 2012 — both the relational and non-relational database markets are set to grow significantly. Expect similar investments, alliances, and cooperation from both sides of the relational and non-relational database worlds in the months ahead.