10gen, the creator and commercial entity behind the popular MongoDB database, has raised another $42 million and wants to take the technology to an application near you. New Enterprise Associates led the round, with 10gen’s existing investors also participating. The round brings 10gen’s total funding to $73 million, which should help 10gen double down on research and development so it can cement MongoDB as the NoSQL database of choice for businesses of all types and maybe even make it a household name.
By any count, it appears that MongoDB is by far the most popular of the non-relational NoSQL class of databases. (This survey from BI vendor Jaspersoft is probably an accurate microcosm of NoSQL adoption overall.) 10gen has already reaped the rewards of its work on the technology, with its sales growing by about 50 percent each quarter and its headcount growing by 400 percent in the past 16 months.
“Business is fantastic,” 10gen President Max Schireson told me. “We keep outperforming every goal that we set for ourselves and the market just feels like it’s huge.” In fact, he said, new sales people pay for themselves almost immediately upon joining the company.
But MongoDB isn’t perfect, which is why 10gen is putting the new money toward R&D to help improve MongoDB and make it more accessible to broad world of users beyond its web roots. Among other things, it has been criticized for being rather difficult to manage at scale. This is somewhat ironic, as scalability, along with the flexibility that comes with being schemaless, is among the driving factors behind the NoSQL movement. One would expect the most-popular of the bunch to scale with ease.
However, Schireson explained, 10gen has invested heavily in ease of use and functionality early on rather than just speed and scalability. Because it’s so easy to use, MongoDB has attracted lots of web developers who don’t mind working around its scalability shortcomings, as well as a growing number of more-traditional (although not for a NoSQL database) uses such as operational intelligence, content management and even revenue reconciliation for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Many users, Schireson said, run single-server MongoDB deployments because it’s so much easier than even running an Oracle database at that scale.
When looking at the growth of the MongoDB community (Schireson says MongoDB has a four-to-one lead over the rest of the NoSQL world in terms of adoption and community size), it’s difficult to argue with 10gen’s development strategy up to this point. A product people want to use means a large community of developers, which means a self-feeding ecosystem. In the NoSQL world, MongoDB looks a lot like Hadoop in the big data world, with a growing number of partners and startups popping up around it to fill in technological gaps (e.g., analytics or search) or to add new value via hosted services. And then there are the investors looking to feed everyone involved, millions of dollars at a time.
Even under the broad NoSQL banner, the database world is diverse enough that MongoDB doesn’t have to be all things for all people, it just has to be a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. And 10gen’s latest $42 million could go a long way toward improving upon whatever flaws it has.
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user fortuna777.