The latest managed database to emerge from Amazon Web Services is based around MongoDB, setting up a new confrontation between the cloud giant and the company behind that open-source project.
DocumentDB is a new database from AWS that “is designed to be compatible with your existing MongoDB applications and tools,” AWS evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post Wednesday. It works with MongoDB version 3.6, which was introduced in November 2017, and “implements the MongoDB 3.6 API by emulating the responses that a MongoDB client expects from a MongoDB server,” Barr wrote.
The new database arrives a few months after new licensing policies from MongoDB and others added to the growing debate around the future of open-source enterprise technology in the era of cloud computing. Last October, MongoDB announced that forthcoming releases of the eponymous open-source project would be covered by a new license called the SSPL, which stipulates that anyone offering MongoDB as a cloud service must release the code written to enable that managed service as an open-source project of its own.
Given that DocumentDB is designed to work with a version of MongoDB released before that license went into effect, the SSPL doesn’t appear to apply to DocumentDB. But AWS thinks that it will be able to help companies that have tried and struggled to implement MongoDB on their own achieve better performance and scale than MongoDB (the corporation) can provide.
MongoDB offers its own managed version of the open-source database through a product called MongoDB Atlas, which accounted for 22 percent of the company’s $65 million in revenue during its third fiscal quarter, it said in December. Companies that are already using AWS for some of their cloud services might find it easier to work with AWS compared to MongoDB if they decide they need help implementing the database in their applications.
According to Infoworld, AWS isn’t promising that its managed service will work with all applications that use MongoDB. At launch, DocumentDB is supporting the most widely used MongoDB services, said Shawn Bice, vice president of nonrelational databases at AWS, in an interview published alongside the announcement.
But it’s not clear how the “emulation” described in the blog post will actually work in practice, and it’s also not clear how new MongoDB features introduced after the creation of the SSPL will flow into future versions of DocumentDB. For now, MongoDB users can find a list of features supported in DocumentDB here.
Reports before the annual AWS re:Invent spectacle in Las Vegas last November suggested that AWS had been thinking about introducing a managed MongoDB services at the event, but paused after the company’s licensing changes. During that week, MongoDB executives said that AWS had yet to contact them about a managed MongoDB service.
“In order to give developers what they want, AWS has been pushed to offer an imitation MongoDB service that is based on the MongoDB code from two years ago,” MongoDB co-founder and CTO Eliot Horowitz said in a statement Wednesday. Soon we’ll find out whether that’s good enough for MongoDB users who have already made substantial investments in AWS, or are thinking about it.
[Editor’s note: This post was updated several times with additional information, and to remove incorrect information provided by a MongoDB representative.]