AWS guns for MongoDB with DocumentDB service offering full compatibility

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has taken aim at MongoDB with the launch of DocumentDB, a database service that, it claims, is fully compatible with the widely used open-source NoSQL database.

As The Register points out, the launch comes just months after MongoDB introduced a new software licence intended to stop cloud computing giants from ripping off its hard work.

The release was revealed this week in a blog post by Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at AWS (‘evangelist’ being a fancy name for ‘marketing manager’). He described it as a “fast, scalable, and highly available document database that is designed to be compatible with your existing MongoDB applications and tools”.

In the release, the company continues: “Customers use MongoDB as a document database to store, retrieve, and manage semi-structured data.

“However, it is hard to build performant, highly available applications that can quickly scale to multiple terabytes and hundreds of thousands of reads- and writes-per-second because of the complexity that comes with setting up and managing MongoDB clusters at scale.

“Amazon DocumentDB is designed from the ground-up to give you the performance, scalability, and availability you need when operating mission-critical MongoDB workloads at scale.”

In October, MongoDB rejigged its software licensing legalese in a bid to head-off the risk that it could be ripped-off by cloud service vendors. It included a new clause obliging anyone offering MongoDB in the cloud must release the enabling code to open source.

At the same time, it introduced a new licence, called the Server Side Public Licence (SSPL), partly in response to China’s technology giants Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba already repackaging the company’s software as free cloud services.

Most open-source software license lack clauses covering cloud computing because the rise of open-source pre-dates cloud computing.

The AWS DocumentDB service therefore only promises compatibility with version 3.6 of MongoDB, which comfortably predates the licence change. That version of MongoDB is more than a year old, with the latest mainline version, MongoDB 4.0, having been released in June 2018. The stable release is currently at version 4.0.5.

MongoDB also announced its own database-as-a-service, called MongoDB Atlas, in June 2016. It now claims to have more than 6,200 customers for Atlas, accounting for around one-fifth of the company’s total revenues, according to its last quarterly accounts filed in December. It is also, coincidentally, available on the AWS marketplace.

Predictably, MongoDB co-founder and chief technology officer Eliot Horowitz declared that the company had nothing to worry about.

He told Business Insider: “More than anything, it shows how much developers love the MongoDB API and database, and how desperate Amazon was to have something in this case.”

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