Why MongoDB isn’t worried about AWS
Why MongoDB isn’t worried about AWS

MongoDB’s latest earnings call reveals that it’s getting bigger all the time.

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Image: solarseven, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Most people don’t participate in the earnings calls of public companies. Within the tech industry, while we may care about the products sold by public companies, we tend not to be too fixated on the financial numbers they report. Even so, as MongoDB’s latest earnings call reveals, there’s a great deal we can learn about our current technology landscape from tuning in.

Panic at the disco

For years, MongoDB lived at the crest of the hype cycle, constantly lauded or trashed by developers. More recently, MongoDB has seemed to fade from public discourse—or, it had until the specter of “death by AWS” became the topic du jour.

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SEE: Open source vs. proprietary software: A look at the pros and cons (Tech Pro Research)

On that topic, which has become a bit tired of late, MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria was asked about the impact that AWS has had on MongoDB’s financial fortunes. (To those who have somehow managed to not be inundated with the onslaught of opinion, there has been a persistent prognostication that AWS is sucking the life out of open source projects by building services to monetize them and, more specifically, has recently launched DocumentDB as an API-compatible alternative to MongoDB.) When asked about potential deleterious effects from AWS’ alleged incursion, Ittycheria replied:

We see no impact…. In fact, I think it’s frankly raised MongoDB’s awareness. I have to remind people that 98% of the market today is built on relational databases [with] technology that’s over 40 years old. So, when you have people now trying to emulate MongoDB, what are really signals is one that we’ve become incredibly popular and the reason we’ve become incredibly popular is that the document approach is now being viewed as the best way to work with data.

And so, now, our customers are starting to say, well, instead of using relational databases, I want to use document databases and they want to do a bake off. We feel very confident about our ability to go head-to-head with any other alternative out there. And so, we think that actually this has been great for awareness and great for customer education and we see no impact on a negative basis whatsoever.

To review, AWS has had no negative impact, but it has had some positive impact, by pointing more enterprises to consider document databases. Ittycheria is, of course, a CEO and, hence, duty bound to be a bit of a cheerleader, but his confident declaration is also borne out by MongoDB’s earnings. The company’s database service offering (Atlas) now represents 34% of the company’s revenue (up from 10% in Q4 of 2017), and topped $100 million last year. That’s particularly impressive when we consider that Atlas grew 400% quarter-over-quarter.

That’s amazing, and an indication that MongoDB is more than capable of competing with AWS, Microsoft Azure, and other would-be cloud competitors.

But this isn’t all we learned from MongoDB’s Q4 2018 earnings call.

Fitter, happier, more productive

Years ago I ran MongoDB’s community and, briefly, marketing efforts. At the time we were hard-pressed to convince the world that MongoDB was a serious enterprise database capable of the most demanding, mission-critical workloads. Given typical enterprise unwillingness to speak publicly about technology decisions, especially in the sensitive area of data, it was a difficult chore coming up with a page that told the story of how companies were achieving serious scale with MongoDB.

SEE: Amazon Web Services: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Today, that problem is gone. As Ittycheria told analysts, MongoDB is increasingly viewed as a “very strategic partner to many customers.” Let’s quantify that. As noted on the earnings call:

  • Companies keep spending more with MongoDB. Across the board, MongoDB’s net annual revenue with customers expanded by more than 120% for the 16th consecutive quarter;
  • 557 customers spend at least $100,000 in annual recurring revenue with MongoDB (up from 490 in the previous quarter);
  • 39 organizations spend at least $1 million annually with MongoDB, up from 22 last year;
  • MongoDB now has 13,400 customers, up 5,000 in its fourth quarter (up from 5,700 in Q4 2007); and
  • Over the last year, developers downloaded MongoDB more than 20 million times, bringing MongoDB cumulative downloads to more than 60 million.

Companies don’t spend $1 million (or even $100,000) with a vendor unless they’re running significant workloads with that vendor.

SEE: MongoDB Q4 revenues surge on cloud business (ZDNet)

While, again, a certain amount of any earnings call is spent positioning to would-be investors (and customers), Ittycheria got specific on the types of organizations embracing MongoDB, and the diverse workloads they’re running. For example, he called out several financial services companies— BBVA (37 applications including a customer data hub), IHS Markit, Nationwide (banking mobile app), Mizuho International (trade platform and risk reporting)—using MongoDB, along with others like Ulta, LINE, and more.

MongoDB, in short, is no longer the king or queen of hype—that crown goes to GraphQL or other upstart data infrastructure options. Instead, MongoDB has become a grown-up tool used by large (and small) enterprises to capture and channel their data. It’s not “sexy” anymore. Just useful, and in a big way.

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