MongoDB targets ‘massive’ revenue stream with new cloud-based management service

NoSQL database vendor MongoDB has rolled out new features of its MongoDB Management Service, or MMS, that it claims will vastly improve users’ abilities to manage and scale the popular database. If even a fraction of its users pay for the service, MongoDB thinks MMS also stands to make the company a lot of money.

The new features, which MongoDB Director of Products Kelly Stirman calls a “massive set of enhancements,” will let users deploy, upgrade and scale their databases all with a few clicks from inside the cloud service, wherever those databases are running. MMS will also automatically optimize Amazon Web Services instances when users deploy MongoDB servers on that cloud computing platform. MMS has been around for years, but previously could only be used to backup data and monitor users’ database clusters.

Addressing long-standing claims that MongoDB doesn’t scale very well, Stirman said it can scale just fine and there are plenty of examples of users running rather large deployments. “But,” he acknowledged, “the truth has always been that it’s hard to do. It takes a lot of work and a lot of expertise.” The new MMS should fix that problem, he added.

However, he was also quick to point out that the new-and-improved MMS is not a database as a service, similar to Microsoft Azure DocumentDB, Amazon DynamoDB (which also now supports JSON documents like MongoDB does) or any of the numerous managed MongoDB services. Users will still need to make decisions about stuff like capacity planning and resiliency (although MMS does provide the option of deploying across Availability Zones on AWS), and they’ll need to act when problems arise.

Source: MongoDB
Source: MongoDB

Asked why someone would choose to run their own MongoDB cluster with MMS as the management layer rather than just using ObjectRocket, MongoHQ or some other service, Stirman said it’s mostly about control. Users with no, or little, operational personnel might choose to go with a managed database, while companies with adequate operational resources often prefer to maintain control over their database.

MongoDB thinks the new MMS capabilities could help the company take in approximately $750 million more per year by monetizing an area it previously ignored. “There are a lot of companies that are never going to pay us a thousand dollars per server per year for one of our subscriptions,” Stirman said. However, he noted, “AWS proves that people are willing to pay for convenience.”

MongoDB is seeing “well over 10,000 downloads a day” and there will be 10 million MongoDB instances running by next year, Stirman explained, so even if the vast majority of users never pay for either the database or MMS, MongoDB still only needs to convert a fraction of its users. MMS is free up eight servers and costs $50 per server per month after that. Backup is free up to 1 gigabyte and costs $2.50 per gigabyte per month after that.

The MMS enhancements come just a couple months after MongoDB announced that users of its free database can now pay for the professional support that accompanies its enterprise-edition database. MongoDB is trying to ramp up revenue, presumably ahead of an eventual IPO, and it seems to think that monetizing even a small number of its many, many non-paying users is an easy way to do it.

Of course, it’s also competing against some other very hungry NoSQL companies, cloud providers and legacy database vendors that aren’t about to cede MongoDB anything, no matter how many users it already has. If the new features and options can help keep those companies at bay, all the better.

Correction: MMS is short for MongoDB Management Service, not MongoDB Monitoring Service.