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IBM throws its weight behind MongoDB for mobile apps

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IBM(S IBM) helped propel SQL, Linux and Java into the mainstream, and now it’s looking to do the same for MongoDB. The company said it’s working with MongoDB creator 10gen on a new standard that will let mobile apps built atop the NoSQL database connect with data stored in business-critical systems.

At its core, the new standard — which encompasses the MongoDB API, data representation (BSON), query language and wire protocol — appears to be all about establishing a way for mobile and other next-generation applications to connect with enterprise database systems such as IBM’s popular DB2 database and its WebSphere eXtreme Scale data grid. MongoDB is already immensely popular among web and mobile developers who must deal with semi- and unstructured data, but its lack of transactional integrity (among other things) means MongoDB isn’t often deployed for “mission-critical” applications that require ACID compliance and consistent performance.

In theory, the new standards would MongoDB-based applications easily and securely access mission-critical database systems. This could usher in a new wave of flexible applications that add significant value by spanning multiple data systems. According to a press release, “Customers can begin to use these new features later this summer by pairing eXtreme Scale with MongoDB, and by running their MongoDB applications on DB2 directly.”

The companies are also seeking participation from other parties interested in developing standard methods for interacting with MongoDB.

However, there’s a bigger shift at play here than the development of a new database standard, and it has everything to do with IBM’s planned acquisition of cloud provider SoftLayer, also announced on Tuesday. If IBM wants to remain relevant as server sales and application platforms move to the cloud, it has to embrace the new business and application-development models that come along with cloud computing. IBM’s stable of enterprise developers might not be deploying mobile apps on Parse or Google any time soon, but they will look for alternative platforms if IBM doesn’t at least try to keep up with a changing landscape.

Coincidentally, SoftLayer and 10gen already have a strong partnership around hosting MongoDB applications in the cloud.

If IBM is still an IT kingmaker, that bodes very well for MongoDB, as well as for the OpenStack cloud computing platform that IBM is also backing. If IBM’s influence in this realm is slipping, though, one could argue that IBM needs MongoDB and OpenStack more than they need it.

I am awaiting comment from IBM and/or 10gen for more details on the scope of their partnership and this standard, and will update when I hear more.

11 Responses to “IBM throws its weight behind MongoDB for mobile apps”

  1. brian bulkowski

    IBM has finally realized developers are let down by 10gen’s NoSQL implementation, and IBM can provide an enterprise solution to address 10gen’s failings. This API needs standardization – but make no mistake, this is IBM’s move to cannibalize 10gen’s enterprise sales effort by offering DB/2.

    At Aerospike, we’ve delivered a fast and scalable ACID NoSQL solution, and seen huge market uptake – we understand IBM’s interest in playing catch up in this market.

    The fact that Aerospike has several ex-DB/2 engineers and advice from Don Haderle has helped.

    • When thinking of it that way, it makes sense. They can use their brand name to steal clients away from smaller startups and consultants. It’s not IBM backing MongoDB, it’s them supporting it enough and constantly convincing you to shell out cash for a license for something else.

    • Let me get this straight: You mention the failings of an open source project, and instead of pitching in to produce the features you think are lacking, you instead start a company to produce a proprietary, competing product. Then pan the open source project for letting down developers and having failings.

      If anything I’d be expecting IBM to be targeting Aerospike, as buying FOSS projects simply make no sense (see Sun Microsystems, Oracle). Having former IBMers on board further makes that a far more likely proposition, based on the track history of both IBM and existing market activity.

      Yelling at a hammer because it makes a lousy screwdriver does not look good. Doing it as a corporate shill looks even worse to me. If you can’t allow other developers to vet your own code, you don’t deserve the right to criticize those that do.

    • Reposting comment, got lost in the infinite loop of social integration! :-)

      Brian, lemme get this straight: First you pan an open source project for letting developers down and failing to meet their needs. And instead of contributing to said project, you start a company that produces a proprietary, closed and competing product.

      Complaining that a hammer makes a lousy screwdriver is disingenuous; but doing it as a corporate shill from a competitor is just weak.

      Aerospike has a far greater likelihood of getting acquired by IBM, having former IBMers on board and being a closed source product. Companies are finally starting to realize you can’t really buy open source software (see Sun Microsystems, Oracle). Unlike your insinuations, this is based on real-world events from the past twenty years.

      If I had the authority, I would have flagged your comment as spam.

  2. Larry Garfield

    MongoDB is not a NoSQL database. It’s a document database.

    There is no such thing as a NoSQL database. “NoSQL” is a term made up by ignorant fanboys who never bothered to learn what data modeling is, so don’t know why SQL is useful for many (but by no means all) applications. Anyone who uses the term “NoSQL” non-ironically is demonstrating their own ignorance of the topic being discussed.

    That’s not a slam on MongoDB at all; it’s a nice document database. But “NoSQL” is not a technology; it’s a crybaby movement.

    • Boris Ivanov

      Funny enough you demonstrating something you blaming others for – ignorance to NOSQL databases. Visit

      NoSQL DEFINITION: Next Generation Databases mostly addressing some of the points: being non-relational, distributed, open-source and horizontally scalable.

      NOSQL has its own niche.
      1. yes SQL databases lacking horizontal scaleability,
      2. yes there no need in every APP create many tables simply because Human knowledge is not only tables.

      • Larry is right in that NoSQL is a stupid name. The problem is that is is well known name now. Soooo just like the name “Cloud”, there is pretty much going back.

        Boris, by SQL database, do you mean RDMBS? You can use SQL with many things, to include spreadsheets.

    • NoSQL is widely recognized term and technology. Many popular NoSQL databases have already SQL front ends, including MongoDB. Some NoSQL databases manage 100’s of TB – low petabytes data sets in production. Do not piss against the wind.

  3. Jaimie Sirovich

    …. but its lack of transactional integrity (among other things) means MongoDB isn’t often deployed for “mission-critical” applications that require ACID compliance and consistent performance.

    @Derrick. See the recent developments on TokuDB’s storage engine + Mongo. That just changed.