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Oracle's NoSQL nightmare MongoDB goes to version 2.6

Release represents 'a basis for continued innovation over the next ten years' crows company

SoftLayer's data center

Upstart database MongoDB has reached its 2.6 release armed with technologies that its backing company says represent "a foundation for the next decade of database innovation."

The 2.6 release of the NoSQL document-oriented database became generally available on Tuesday. With this version, the database's eponymous steward MongoDB Inc. claimed in a blog post that "with comprehensive core server enhancements, a groundbreaking new automation tool, and critical enterprise features, MongoDB 2.6 is by far our biggest release ever."

Before delving further into the release, it's worth pointing out that MongoDB currently has database-wide write locking, which means the entire system can accept only a single write at a time. This is a bad thing, as it means if the database has a very high rate of access, then multiple concurrent writes end up being serialized. The company says it hopes to make "massive improvements to concurrency" in MongoDB 2.8, so admins keen to gain this capability will be waiting for a while longer.

As for the new features: MongoDB 2.6 has made improvements in "three main categories – operations, developer experience and enterprise suitability," explained the company's chief technology officer Eliot Horowitz in a chat with El Reg.

What this means is the database has been provided with tech that gives people new ways to fiddle with it, that make its queries and writes faster, and that give it more stablity and security.

Some of the new tech includes insert and update improvements, a new protocol for write operations, a new security authorization model, geospatial enhancements, and query improvements.

One particularly new powerful query feature is "index intersection", which means "MongoDB can use the intersection of multiple indexes to fulfill queries," according to a FAQ. Previously, MongoDB was mostly restricted to single indexes for most queries.

The company has also made a number of changes to stop its developers doing the database admin equivalent of running with scissors and to help stitch them up should they fall.

These include a rolling backup feature in the "MongoDB Management Service" in both on-premises and cloud deployments. This technology will back up MongoDB replica sets and sharded clusters, then host this data in a secondary infrastructure in case of brownouts. This feature will then be exposed to admins via an "Automation" management console that will help them spin-up and watch over MongoDB sets and clusters.

These features are meant to deal with the perceptions people have had that MongoDB's architecture is "complicated" and contains "too many pieces," Horowitz says.

While many seasoned DBAs may scoff at these additional features, since tech like this has been available in traditional relational databases for a long, long time, it's worth remembering the fundamental difference between MongoDB/NoSQL technology and traditional systems: typical databases use a row/column format for storing information whereas MongoDB keeps information in nested JSON objects.

This gives the database its flexibility and ease of use, and is also the reason for its many performance drawbacks, some of which its steward has now finally got around to fixing.

What El Reg's data desk is really looking forward to is if Oracle's planned "NoSQL Standards Body" [Yes, really—Ed.] comes to fruition – just imagine the sparks when MongoDB finds its future is Oracle's past and vice verse! ®

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