Feeds

MongoDB daddy: My baby beats Google BigTable

The web is built on objects. Not tables

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

After a decade as chief technology officer at DoubleClick – the internet ad giant he cofounded in 1995 – Dwight Merriman set out to build a "platform cloud" along the lines of Google App Engine or Microsoft Azure. But this was before people called them platform clouds, before anyone knew about App Engine or Azure.

It was late 2007, and the idea was to create an online service for developing, hosting, and automatically scaling web applications. "What we were building was very similar to what App Engine eventually became," Merriman tells us. But unlike App Engine, the service would be underpinned by an entirely open source software stack, and somewhere along the way Merriman and his team realized that no open source database platform was suited to such a service.

"We felt like a lot of existing databases didn't really have the 'cloud computing' principles you want them to have: elasticity, scalability, and ... easy administration, but also ease of use for developers and operators," Merriman says. "[MySQL] doesn't have all those properties."

So they set out to build a database of their own, one that would discard the familiar relational database model in favor of a distributed platform tailored for moden-day web applications. "By reducing transactional semantics, we could still solve an interesting set of problems, but we could also scale," Merriman explains. After a year of work, the database was in place, and they decided it had as much potential as the cloud service it was designed for – if not more. The cloud service was never finished. But the database was open sourced as MongoDB.

Dwight Merriman and his team, including ShopWiki founder Eliot Horowitz, built MongoDB under the aegis of the New York–based startup 10gen, and the company now offers support, training, and consulting services for the database in addition to serving as the open source project's primary steward. This week, 10gen held its second annual San Francisco developer conference, and with his Tuesday-morning keynote, Merriman described the origins of MongoDB and explained why the database was built the way it was.

The split from the relational model was essential, Merriman says, because you can't do distributed joins in a way that readily scales. "I'm not smart enough to do distributed joins that scale horizontally, widely, and are super fast. You have to choose something else," Merriman explained during his talk. "We have no choice but to not be relational."

It was equally important, he says, to limit the database's transactional semantics. "You can do distributed transactions, but if you do them with no loss of generality and you do them across a thousand machines, it's not going to be that fast."

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Get off the Table

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
Nimble's latest mutants GORGE themselves on unlucky forerunners
Crossing Sandy Bridges without stopping for breath
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?