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AWS Takes Aim At MongoDB With New Database Service

Amazon developed the compatible document-oriented database service after MongoDB introduced a more-restrictive license to the open source project it leads. One partner told CRN the license ‘is one that no cloud vendor would willingly agree to.’

Amazon Web Service's launch of a new NoSQL database sent shares of MongoDB plummeting Thursday as investors feared the world's largest public cloud would undercut adoption of the extremely popular open source document-oriented database.

Amazon DocumentDB, which organizes semi-structured data, introduces a document store that emulates an older version of the MongoDB API to achieve full compatibility with that release.

The MongoDB stock plunge after publication of an AWS blog revealing the new service—from a closing price Wednesday on Nasdaq of $86.62, to $75.20 at publication of this article—illustrates the tremendous muscle AWS has in the market and impact development of its services can have on independent software vendors.

[Related: Infosys And MongoDB Expand Business Transformation Partnership With Joint Mainframe Solution]

But an AWS partner specializing in data technologies said despite investor jitters, DocumentDB really doesn't pose a significant threat to the New York City-based database company, which saw an IPO in October 2017 and has been steadily increasing market capitalization since then.

John Schulz, principal consultant at Pythian, said the instigator of Amazon's latest database was the SSPL—a new license from MongoDB that imposed a more-restrictive requirement as to how cloud providers could incorporate its open technology into their hosted database services.

The Server Side Public License essentially mandates any cloud provider that offers MongoDB as a service must open source all the code related to that service offering.

That license "is one that no cloud vendor would willingly agree to," Schulz told CRN.

But the latest offering from AWS only adds to a rich selection of document stores on the market that benefits customers, he said.

AWS already offers DynamoDB, its existing NoSQL database; and Microsoft offers Cosmos DB, which is also somewhat compatible with MongoDB.

"More variations on the theme are good for the community and help all the players produce a better product," Schulz said.

It's not so different from what's happened in the MySQL community, with MySQL, MariaDB and AWS Aurora; or the Cassandra community with Apache Cassandra, DSE, Scylla, Cosmos DB and YugaByte all supporting the Apache Cassandra API.

Amazon is simply trying to offer a more feature-rich document database, Schulz said. And the cloud giant is carefully using words like "emulated" to make sure customers understand that they're not using any MongoDB code beyond the 3.6 release.

Joe Dickman, senior vice president at Vizuri, a MongoDB implementation partner, said Amazon wants to expand its share of the customer wallet by enabling organizations to not have to look outside Amazon for cloud services.

"But until the technology can be proven at scale with a large customer, organizations will continue to use MongoDB," Dickman told CRN.

AWS, however, has to be taken seriously in that bid. "They've proven that they can introduce, educate, and secure market share in technological offerings," Dickman said.

MongoDB also offers a hosted version, called Atlas, based on MongoDB 4.0, the latest version of the database project it leads now positioned to compete more-directly against Amazon DocumentDB.

In a statement to media outlets, MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria said developers will be savvy enough to see through Amazon's "poor imitation" of his company's product.


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